Confrontation scenes in Middlemarch

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Larry Talmadge Queen (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Randolph Bulgin

Abstract: Critics, while generally praising George Eliot's Middlemarch, cannot agree on what makes the novel great. Some say the greatness of the book lies in the characterizations. Others say the novelist reveals her central genius in aesthetic unity. My thesis, however, is that the real secret of her genius in Middlemarch is her use, as a philosophical and psychological novelist, of great scenes of confrontation between characters upon whom the gradual action of ordinary causes comes to bear, producing Intense drama. First, I examine what some critics have said pertinent to my thesis and follow this with an assessment of what George Eliot has said about dramatic writing. Then I assess the woman herself and the confrontations in her own life from which she could have drawn knowledge for creation of her powerful dramatic scenes. Against this background of information, I explicate eight major confrontation scenes, showing some techniques she employed, including the pyramiding of scenes or building of dramatic tension scene-upon-scene, the depiction of the effects of gradual action of ordinary causes upon the lives of all the characters through their interrelationships, the use of irony, peripety, myth, contrast between movement and stasis of characters, the choice of names, the application of ego motives, the use of shifting points of view, the depiction of tragic figures and the use of philosophical themes and understatement.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1970
Eliot, George, $d 1819-1880 $x Criticism and interpretation
Eliot, George, $d 1819-1880 $x Characters
Eliot, George, $d 1819-1880. $t Middlemarch

Email this document to