I am so glad that I don’t throw ‘Middlemarch’ away during eight years I immerse myself in other titles. I suddenly want to read the masterpiece after I stumble upon an article about minimalism. The article cites the book so I take it again after two failed attempts and I enjoy reading it very much.
It takes almost two months to complete reading it. The period which I think is kind of short given the almost 700 pages it runs. Throughout the reading process, as I write in previous posts, I can’t help being bedazzled by George Eliot’s story technique, her brilliant ways of giving a life to each of its character, describing the places and emotions, and finally guiding readers to gain so many lessons for the sake of their own interests. The book is full of many life lessons. What makes it sticks into the hearts of so many people is that it doesn’t preach, it doesn’t instruct to do or don’t do specific things.
In fact, Eliot portrays memorable characters that you may find yourself part of their overall traits. If you are a social person, you can be like Dorothea or Caleb Garth. If you find yourself love learning you can look at Edward Casaubon. If you are very easy going person, then may be Will Ladislaw suits you best.
Each and every character in the book carries problems. Eliot mentions their ways of handling the problems according to their given traits and perspectives in such beautiful ways. Hence, readers can embrace many knowledge and even put their feet in the characters’ shoes. With the strong characters in the book herewith I share with you my friends, three values about life that make the book remains so profound. And for me, I can learn a lot and apply them in my personal life:
1. You don’t have to save the world to consider yourself a worthy human being.
It’s completely fine if you have certain mission in your life, be it being a humanitarian worker, beneficial technology inventor, international public speaker/motivator etc. Modern world seems require us to attain specific things or goals in life then show them to the world. For instance, certificates to prove something or meeting important people in your chosen fields. Then you will expect ‘likes’, ‘loves’ and bunch of comments to affirm that you are a ‘successful’ human being. It’s good if you can be one of the people but what if you aren’t?
If you find yourself questioning this sort of thing then Dorothea and Tertius are very good examples you can look at. Both are very kind, idealistic people, who want to contribute a lot of things to the society. Dorothea’s preliminary goal is providing homes for poor people at cheap cost while Tertius’s wish is taking care sick people while enhancing his medical skills in a hospital. As such, he works with Mr. Bulstrode whom he actually dislikes.
But life doesn’t go according to their plans. Their responses are what make the two living happy or unhappy one.
2. It takes years to build a good reputation and only seconds to destroy it
The case of Mr. Buldstrode serves special thing to review. Though he is considered by some, including by his relative, as a cold, wicked person, I am still surprised learning about his past via Raffles. That is why public scorns at him when they know when he gets his wealth and what he does with Raffles in his last days even though he doesn’t kill him.
But rumors and gossips are very deadly. They don’t care anymore about the money the banker puts for the public cause because they immediately consider his deed serves like ‘a money laundry’ for the bad things he does in the past.
What makes me hating the public is their perception about Tertius. They believe the money he gets from Mr. Buldstrode acts as a kind of compensation for helping him killing Raffles without actually having convincing evidence.
At this point, Tertius’s reputation is at stake. Will his care for the unfortunate sick people be helping him out of the mess? Who will actually believe he is innocent?
3. Love can be redefined
The love life of Dorothea is interesting to be talked about. It isn’t about her marrying twice but it’s how she acknowledges her feeling for each of the man whom she marries with.
When Dorothea falls in love with Edward, she is a highly idealistic woman. As much as she admires Edward, a smart, sharp man with good reputation, I think her decision to be united with Edward in a matrimony is partly to her dream of making herself useful.
At this point, she wants to be a useful wife. Their marriage is often marked with reading together, working at the library, trying to submit herself to the study of her husband.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Because I think marriage aims at making each couple becoming more excellent in their respective fields. But the problem is Dorothea and Edward’s good intention is not enough to save their marriage. Or to be precise, their motive to be as one isn’t that strong. Marrying each other for the sake of helping one another isn’t adequate.
As such, Dorothea says she doesn’t fully submit herself to Edward because her definition of love hasn’t been solid. Sometimes it doesn’t any explanations why you love someone, you just feel it, you just know something unexplainable is brewing inside your heart. It’s you yourself who can feel it.
Such is the feeling Dorothea has with Will, and the former feels the same way, too. She can now whole-heartedly love Will and the other way around. Through pain and death she previously suffers, Dorothea can renew her definition of love, which is indescribable after all.