• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A Study of the Character of Lydgate in George Eliot's Middlemarch

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Hebrew University Faculty of Humanities Department of English To Dream the Impractical Dream A Study of the Character of Lydgate in George Eliot's Middlemarch Presented to Dr. John Landau In the course Moral Representations of Courage By Joe D. Brown 01544696-13 One of the most important aspects of defining a character as courageous in George Eliot's novel Middlemarch is self-recognition. In this novel, one of the keys to such recognition is through an understanding of one's surroundings, the environment in which that character operates. When one looks at the character of Dr. Tertius Lydgate, one discovers that, although he comes close to being considered courageous, he comes shy of the mark. I believe, and I hope this paper shall show, that Lydgate is an idealist who, unlike the protagonist of the book, Dorothea, is too much of a realist to be able to give in to one of the most material aspects of the real world - money. Another way of putting it would be to say that through the character of Lydgate, Middlemarch explores a junction of spiritual and social forces which can produce horrendous results. In Chapter 15, the text presents Lydgate as someone who "felt the growth of an intellectual passion" and as "an emotional creature, with a flesh-and-blood sense of fellowship which withstood all the abstractions of special study." This is a seemingly heroic portrait, of an aspiring scholar who maintains feelings for his fellow man. However, the text is framed by two interesting quotes. Before this portrait appears the following: "he had no more thought of representing to himself how his blood circulated than how paper served instead of gold". ...read more.

Middle

In Middlemarch, this lack of an appropriate appreciation of money is linked to a problem of understanding oneself. As Franklin says, "the falsity of romance, as in the case of Dorothea or Lydgate...arises from a dual mis-valuation. It involves an over-valuing of the other, which is tantamount to a negation of the intended partner through self-projection, and an under-valuing or negation of one's self." Thus, extending Franklin's argument, by not seeing the true value of money, you cannot see the true value of yourself. And, to compare, at the end of the novel Dorothea knows what money is worth, and can give it up in favor of Will; Farebrother is always aware that money is just a means, and not an end. Lydgate "mis-values" this tool, and thus loses sight of himself as well. In examining the way Lydgate loses this inner perspective, one must examine his relationship with Bulstrode. On the one hand, we are told that he "did not mean to imitate those philanthropic models who make a profit out of poisonous pickles to support themselves while they are exposing adulterations, or hold shares in a gambling-hell that they may have leisure to represent the cause of public morality." (Middlemarch, p. 143) However, later in the novel, as Franklin points out, "this is a chillingly accurate description of Bulstrode, who, we discover, "won his fortune" through a speculative marriage and foul play and is attempting to absolve himself through a combination of hospital charity and self-righteous condemnations of others' lack of religious zeal (Middlemarch, Chapter 74, pp. 701-4)." And so, through the novel, Lydgate slowly moves away from the model presented by Farebrother. ...read more.

Conclusion

The point I wish you not to mention is the fact of disobedience to my orders. That would soon get distorted. After all, there is no evidence for me but people's opinion of me beforehand. You can only repeat my own report of myself." (Middlemarch, pp. 729-30) The way Lydgate views his courage, i.e. the way he faces himself, relies on someone else believing in him. He faces up to the reality of money not by prescribing pills and continuing his research, but by setting up a clinic for rich people in London. He gives in to the reality of money as Bulstrode and Rosamond see it, not as a tool to achieve greatness but as an end unto itself. In running away from Middlemarch, Lydgate is not brave at all. In fact, he is a coward for he avoids the future he could have had if he had thought about it in the proper terms. If he had really wanted to perform the research, he should have acquired the funds for it through prescription from the start, and not gone and wasted the money on furniture. His biggest "spot of commonness" which block his inner perspective is his own defiance of viewing his surroundings, and therefore himself as well. He wants the world to work for him, not vice versa. Unfortunately for the young physician, the "paper which serves as gold" has to be understood just as well as how the blood circulates within his body. Understanding the world without is a key for understanding the world within, and it is precisely that which Lydgate misses. And so, by "mis-valuing", as Franklin puts it, Lydgate does not dream the impossible dream, as does the Don of La Mancha, but rather only an impractical one. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE George Eliot section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE George Eliot essays

  1. To what extent do you agree that social and moral analysis is required of ...

    From reading through other critical evaluations of her previous novels I can see that George Eliot was extremely interested in social and moral analysis, and I think that in "Middlemarch," this is clear. Through the course of "Middlemarch" we analyse the actions of individual characters, and the opinions of society as a whole, without even realising it.

  2. A brief literary analysis of the relationship between Rosalind and Lydgate in George Eliot's ...

    Instead of being a wholeheartedly joyful occasion, their wedding is mixed with death and greed (related to the will of the deceased). Inevitably, the positive side of their relationship would be touched by this greed. Like Rosamond would prove to be, "Mr Larcher's sale was the more attractive in the fine weather".

  1. Examine The Treatment Of Alienation And Prejudice In George Eliot’s ‘Silas Marner’ and Harper ...

    His catalepsy is a mysterious rigidity of consciousness. However this pallid young man, with prominent, short sighted protuberant brown eyes, whose appearance once would have no affect on people of average culture and experience, but for the narrow minded ignorance of the people of Raveloe it had mysterious peculiarities which

  2. Middlemarch Essay

    I also believe that the fact the labyrinth is walled-in is of significance. It suggests that Dorothea feels trapped by society, and sees no way of escaping this. Society and Class is not a factor which Dorothea could determine. It was decided before you were even born, a result of the behaviours of our ancestors.

  1. Contemporary drama has the potential to educate and entertain an audience. How does the ...

    George constantly listens to the radio to listen out for news on the war, which is a device to keep the audience informed. Ella suddenly becomes suspicious about something George says: "he have two daughters you know same age as Abdul and Tariq."

  2. Explore One theme from George Eliot’s novel “Silas Marner”

    This fate is devastating for Silas, disappointed in friendship and love, and therefore opting to depart Lantern Yard and society as a whole. His gold now becomes the object of his work, and nothing but weaving his loom day and night in order to earn more of the gold matters.

  1. Compare and contrast the approach taken by the two poets, George Bilgere and Diane ...

    He tells them about his past one night and then carried on eating his dinner, this might show how he wanted his family to understand how he has let the past affect his life as an adult and as a parent.

  2. EAST IS EAST Explore how the conflicts and tension in the play are dramatically ...

    This changes as we begin to slowly find out. In Act 2, Scene 2, the cross-cultural conflicts created by the tension slowly built throughout the play up to this point is finally resolved. Sajit is opening up to his older brother, Abdul, and Abdul is seeing Sajit in a new light.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work