Saturday, 10 December 2011

George Eliot's ideal?

George Eliot - from Wikipedia

This quote from George Eliot's Middlemarch describes Mary Garth, a young woman not physically attractive in a traditional sense, but with a strong and quietly appealing character. She is usually seen as a deliberate contrast to two of the main, but flawed characters, Dorothea Brooke and Rosamond Vincy. But Mary surely gives us some pretty strong hints of George Eliot's view of herself.

Mary was fond of her own thoughts, and could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in her lap; for, having early had strong reason to believe that things were not likely to be arranged for her peculiar satisfaction, she wasted no time in astonishment and annoyance at that fact. And she had already come to take life very much as a comedy in which she had a proud, nay, a generous resolution not to act the mean or treacherous part. 

Mary might have become cynical if she had not parents whom she honoured, and a well of affectionate gratitude within her, which was all the fuller because she had learned to make no unreasonable claims.

She sat tonight resolving, as she was wont, the scenes of the day, her lips often curling with amusement at the oddities to which her fancy added fresh drollery: people were so ridiculous with their illusions, carrying their fool's caps unawares, thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else's were transparent, making themselves exceptions to everything, as if when all the world looked yellow under a lamp they alone were rosy.


Sam Vega said...

I have to confess I've not read a single novel by Eliot. But these little quotes that you drip feed us certainly make me want to! Where has all the free time gone?....

A K Haart said...

SV - her novels aren't all equally good, but I rate her as one of the greats. Her insights into human psychology can be very profound.

Sam Vega said...

When I get some time, where should I start?

A K Haart said...

SV - I'd advise anyone to start with Middlemarch, but all are worthwhile. The only novel I'm not too keen on is Romola.