Using the subtleties that have won her much acclaim, George Eliot describes her character with her unmistakable style and brilliant articulation - Middlemarch introduction. In the description of Miss Brooke, Eliot describes her as remarkably beautiful with an elegance that is unmistakable. Miss Brooke’s grace and charms are alluring, but her presence is uninviting. Eliot manages to get across to the reader a character which is compellingly clear, though slightly repellent, and the descriptions of her are admirably written to show readers all her personality flaws.
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Dorothea’s tragic problem is the fact that she was simply born into an age which valued different traits than those which she possesses. Eliot subtly pokes fun at both the customs of these times as well as her heroine as she speaks of Dorothea’s serious attitude and intellectual pursuits, mentioning these in phrases that seem to regard the attributes as problematic. During the time period of Middlemarch, men seldom wanted a wife who knew as much or more than they did; it was considered to be unfeminine and unattractive to be seriously committed to ideas.
Dorothea, to sum it up succinctly and clearly, is an uncomfortable sort of person for people to be around. She makes those with whom she speaks feel slightly annoyed and inferior; she takes herself very seriously and her beliefs even more seriously. These were not valuable characteristics for a female of her day and age. George Eliot is able to portray both her grave intellectualism and her passionate convictions in several well-chosen alliterative phrases: “Dorothea knew many passages of Pascal’s Pensees and of Jeremy Taylor by heart”. Using this indirect characterization, Eliot conveys Dorothea’s intellect without blatantly expressing it. She uses this technique and uses direct characterizations as well exampled by: “[Dorothea] was open, honest, and not in the least self-admiring.” Eliot is merciless in defining her protagonist by the very ideals by which Dorothea lives. It is unkind, but beautifully written, and has the ultimate effect of making Dorothea extremely lifelike to readers of all ages.
Although seemingly contradicting herself, Eliot intersperses descriptions of Dorothea’s unmistakable beauty, intellect and allure while also depicting her as unapproachable and uncomfortable. Eliot’s general attitude towards her character seems slightly cruel, as if she views beautiful women as intimidating and resents them slightly for it. George Eliot is a great writer because she has the ability to show compassion for her characters even as she shows their faults in brilliant but glaring prose. Never has this been shown more compellingly than in her characterization of Dorothea in her beloved work ‘MiddleMarch’.