Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Middlemarch - George Eliot

It has happened a few times, that when I finished a book I'd have the feeling that I should hug it dearly so that we can part so. Middlemarch gave that feeling to me like no other book did. It was everything I hope a classic should give and so much more.
The characters are divine. I can't even begin to understand the talent Eliot had to write such a novel. Middlemarch has everything; love, despair, hope, family, marriage and friendship.
It is a long book, and having been written so beautifully it'll take you to places you've never been to with a book before. At least, it was the case with me. I loved the characters, and I'd like to dwell on them for a moment. Everyone plays a part in Middlemarch and although throughout the book I changed my liking between characters, one character remained with me. This was Dorothea.
She is a young woman with high hopes for herself to make the world better for others. Life stands in her way in so many trying hours, yet her character stands firm. Of course most of us have the notion of changing the world, going to forsaken places to give a hand. This is all very noble, yet these opportunities never come easy. We wait for them but they never come. We think perhaps this is not the way such things happen, that we must somehow try to reach out and look for such opportunities ourselves, the thought lingers yet is seldom turned into action.
Dorothea has notions of helping others, yet she has real notions. She plans for them, and helps those around her. It was part of the reason why I loved her character. She was very simple and honest. Something I always wanted to be. She suffers grief, yet it doesn't hinder her from doing good. And she has a clear vision of what is right and wrong, and believes in humanity.
This all may seem like a perfect character, too good to be found on earth, yet the realness of Dorothea makes her character even more appealing. I found the attempt to draw such a character very genuine. Eliot, as far as I'm concerned, succeed very well with her characters, and I soon found myself greatly attached to most of them despite their flaws.
It has been a while that a novel was interesting enough for me to stay awake to finish it. I knew it had to be finished, I was struggling with emotions as I turned the last few pages. And I have to admit that I was crying. Tears rolled down my face easily, perhaps it was because of the hopelessness some characters were in, the hope others entertained, and the sad thought that I must part with this novel that has become very dear to me.

There were many lines I loved, and these are the few I took the time to write down:

"We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, "Oh, nothing!" Pride helps; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our hurts -- not to hurt others."
Page 51

"One can begin so many things with a new person! – even begin to be a better man."
Page 102

""He only feels confident that you will do it," said Dorothea, in a voice as clear and unhesitating as that of a young chorister chanting a credo, "because you mean to enter Parliament as a member who cares for the improvement of the people, and one of the first things to be made better is the state of the land and the laborers. Think of Kit Downes, uncle, who lives with his wife and seven children in a house with one sitting room and one bedroom hardly larger than this table!--and those poor Dagleys, in their tumble-down farmhouse, where they live in the back kitchen and leave the other rooms to the rats! That is one reason why I did not like the pictures here, dear uncle--which you think me stupid about. I used to come from the village with all that dirt and coarse ugliness like a pain within me, and the simpering pictures in the drawing-room seemed to me like a wicked attempt to find delight in what is false, while we don't mind how hard the truth is for the neighbors outside our walls. I think we have no right to come forward and urge wider changes for good, until we have tried to alter the evils which lie under our own hands."
Page 321

"That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil--widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower."
Page 323

At the end I have to thank my friend Mohammed who encouraged me to read for George Eliot. This is just the kind of book that makes you believe in yourself and the things you can do for others. I really can't say anything more, for I'm afraid I've already said too much already but Middlemarch is absolutely worth reading.

1 comment:

Mohammad said...

Wonderful review, as usual! next suggestion: Birginia Woolf's Night and Day