Secrets are the integral driving force behind the plot of George Elliot’s Middlemarch. From the first paragraph when a young girl and her brother try to leave to save the world, to when Rosamond tries to sabotage Dorothea and Will, secrets abound. The time period Middlemarch was written about seems to be fraught with the keeping of secrets. The idea of wives keeping secrets from their husbands, husbands from their wives, parents from children, and vice versa is not a foreign thought, but the amount of surreptitiousness is astounding. Secrets drive every decision made in the town of Middlemarch. Dorothea keeps the truth from Casaubon about the reason she married him. Rosamond keeps the secret that she only married Lydgate to get away from Middlemarch, while Lydgate hides most of his past, as well as massive amounts of debt from all he knows.
Dorothea Brooke is a very bright and beautiful young lady that does not much care for frills or getting ahead in society. She wants more than anything to help those around her, starting with the tenants of her uncle. She desires to redesign their cottages, but Arthur Brooke, her elderly uncle with whom she and her younger sister Celia Brooke lives with, does not want to spend the money required. So Dorothea shares her dream with Sir James Chettam, who finds her fascinating, and encourages her to use the plans she has drawn up for the tenants on his land instead. He falls in love with her, but does not share his feelings for her quickly enough. Edward Casaubon, an older scholarly clergyman asks Dorothea to marry him, she does not accept until she finds out Sir James means to seriously court her, then turns around and tells Casaubon yes. What she does not te...
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...help, like the Saint Theresas of the world, the kind that hurt, whether by design or accident, like Rosamond and to some degree like Dorothea, and the kind that help, though those are few and far between. Rosamond was not trying to hurt Dorothea by trying to take Will Ladislaw from her. She was only thinking of herself, but whether she was trying to hurt Dorothea or not it had the same effect. Edward Casaubon does not keep his feelings of insecurity from Dorothea and everyone else to hurt them, but because he is ashamed that he feels the way he does. Secrets only confuse things, and ultimately, can ruin what was so hard to build. Life is much simpler and less perplexing when the truth is told.
Middlemarch. Bibliomania: Free Online Literature and Study Guides. Bibliomania. 15 Apr. 2009
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