· What is the significance of the nature of Casaubon’s work A Key to all Mythologies? If Casaubon’s abortive magnum opus had been, say, a survey of soil composition in England, how would that have affected the novel?
· Jerome Thale in The Novels of George Eliot (Columbia University Press, 1959) writes “Aspiration in Middlemarch is both noble and ridiculous.” Is this valid? What aspirations do the many different characters have?
· In Jennifer Uglow’s George Eliot (Virago, 1987), she points out that Eliot poses the question “why we never tire of ‘telling over and over again how a man comes to fall in love with a woman and be wedded to her, or else be fatally parted from her’ yet are comparatively uninterested in an intellectual passion like Lydgate’s?” What is your answer for Eliot?
· The last sentence of Middlemarch:
“But the effect on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” Of this, Rebecca Mead (My Life in Middlemarch) says, “A vein of melancholy runs through the sentence.” Do you agree?