The Heroism of Happy Compromise: George Eliot's Middlemarch

In Chapter Twenty of Middlemarch, Dorothea Brooke realizes that she has made a grave mistake in marriage: ÃÂÂ...for that new real future which was replacing the imaginary drew its material from the endless minutaiae by which her view of Mr. Casaubon and her wifely relation, now that she was married to him, was gradually changing with the secret motion of a watch-hand from what it had been in her maiden dreamÃÂ? (178). In considering the future of her relationship, DorotheaÃÂÂs shifting perspective is compared to the insidious motion of time measured on a watch. The ÃÂÂimaginaryÃÂ? hopes of DorotheaÃÂÂs youth yield a more realistic mind-set as she gains life experience. Thus, selfhood is not fixed, but changes with timeÃÂÂs progression. DorotheaÃÂÂs vulnerability to time is emphasized by the narrativeÃÂÂs focus on her inner lifeÃÂ"her attitudes rather than her actions. Judging Dorothea to be a mock-heroic figure whose ambitions are trounced by timeÃÂÂs inevitable passage, we might be tempted to read Middlemarch as a chronicle of defeat; this conclusion is unfair. In actuality, George EliotÃÂÂs creation of Dorothea Brooke is an attempt to create a viable epic hero. In grappling with the problem of time, it is evident that...

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