When Will Ladislaw is first introduced to the reader, he appears to be a foil for his cousin and benefactor Mr. Casaubon. Mr. Casaubon is “noted in the county as a man of profound learning, understood for many years to be engaged on a great work concerning religious history” (7). Dorothea notes that “his manners [were] dignified; the set of his iron-grey hair and his deep eye sockets made him resemble the portrait of Locke” (11). In stark contrast, Will Ladislaw is first described as a youthful artist with “long black curls.” Eliot juxtaposes these descriptions to dramatize the difference between these characters. Since Will Ladislaw is introduced to Dorothea within the context of Lowick Manor, and therefore Mr. Casaubon, he appears to be a foil for Mr. Casaubon himself. Mr. Casaubon complains about Will’s “general inaccuracy and indisposition to thoroughness of all kinds” (52). These conver...
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... an ardent public man, working well in those times when reforms were begun with a young hopefulness of immediate good […], and getting at last returned to Parliament by a constituency who payed his expenses.” (513) Will Ladislaw dedicates himself to reform-oriented political writing, combining his need for artistic expression and social welfare with his need to provide for a family. By the end of the book, Eliot hasn’t destroyed the Romantic in Middlemarch, but merely made him more respectable. To the end, Ladislaw still lays on the ground instead of on the couch, and Eliot celebrates his candid emotionality instead of ridiculing it.
Greenblatt, Stephen, Deidre Lynch, and Jack Stillinger. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print.
Eliot, George, and Bert Hornback G. Middlemarch. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000. Print.
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