Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by English author George Eliot, first published in eight instalments (volumes) during 1871–2. The novel is set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during 1829–32, and it comprises several distinct (though intersecting) stories and a large cast of characters. Significant themes include the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism, self-interest, religion, hypocrisy, political reform, and education. Although containing comical elements, Middlemarch is a work of realism that refers to many historical events.
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One of the most accomplished and prominent novels of the Victorian era, Middlemarch is an unsurpassed portrait of nineteenth-century English provincial life. Dorothea Brooke is a young woman of fervent ideals who yearns to effect social change yet faces resistance from the society she inhabits. In this epic in a small landscape, Eliot's large cast of precisely delineated characters and the rich tapestry of their stories result in a wise, compassionate, and astute vision of human nature. As Virginia Woolf declared, George Eliot "was one of the first English novelists to discover that men and women think as well as feel, and the discovery was of great artistic moment."
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