Marriage in Middlemarch: The Becoming Effect of Gaining Outward Perspective

George Eliot writes that a marriage is either a "gradual conquest or irremediable loss of union" (Eliot 832). In other words, marriage is a joint venture that has the goal of eventually culminating into the union of two separate persons. In Middlemarch, the "gradual" advancement towards union can be seen in the marriage of Mary Garth and Fred Vincy that only occurs when Mary forces Fred to become sufficiently developed as a person and chose a career that suits him. If either participant refuses to add to the functioning of the marriage, the marriage will become one of mutual enmity such as that of Lydgate and Rosamond Vincy. In this novel, a happy marriage can be said to encompass a perspective that is broad enough to know what another feels and a willingness to work together. The couples who are still together and happy at the end of the novel are the success stories, such as Fred Vincy and Mary Garth and Ladislaw and Dorothea-all of whom have matured enough to thoroughly know both themselves and their partners. Through the novel's couples, Eliot shows that marriage is an endeavor requiring a perspective that is inclusive of one's partner and provides adequate knowledge of the self.

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