This book uses the story of a village and its inhabitants in Victorian England as the background for the theories and philosophies of this time. Thus there is always an intricate connection between big theories and the situation in everyday life they appear in -almost like a clash of big theories with the typically English focus on ‘getting on with it’.
If there is any red threat woven into the book (but it also might simply be the red threat of my life right now) how the desire for power or money, or actually any desire turns easily destructive.
In the beginning a various range of theories, mostly personal, is given:
„the great safeguard of society and of domestic life was, that opinions were not acted on. Sane people did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.7).
„’She says, he is a great soul. – A great bladder for dried peas to rattle in!’ said Mrs. Cadwallader.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.47).
„On the contrary, having the amiable vanity which knits us to those who are fond of us, and discinclines us to those who are indifferent, and also a good grateful nature, the mere idea that a woman had a kindness towards him spun little threads of tenderness from out his heart towards hers.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.50).
„’Why? What do you know against him?’ (...) Sir James paused. He did not usually find it easy to give reasons: it seemed to him strange that people should not know them without being told, since he only felt what was reasonable.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.56).
„Brooke is a very good fellow, but pulpy; he will run into any mould, but he won’t keep shape.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.58).
„But Fielding lived when the days were longer (for time, like money, is measured by our needs.)“ (Eliot, 1994, p.117).
„people were so ridiculous with their illusions, carrying their fools’ 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.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.261).
„his farming conservatism, which consisted in holding whatever is, is bad, and any change is likely to be worse.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.326).
„He was simply a man whose desires had been stronger than his theoretic beliefs, and who had gradually explained the gratification of his desires into satisfactory with those beliefs.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.510).
Gradually the focus shifts on Romaticism and how it clashes with the English world:
„the gigantic broken revelations of that Imperial and Papal city thrust abruptly on the notions of a girl who had been brought up in English and Swiss Puritanism, fed on meagre Protestant histories and on art chiefly oft he hand-screen sort a girl whose ardent nature turned all her small allowance of knowledge into principles.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.161).
„but I so seldom see just what I want – the idealistic in the real.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.179).
„’I fear you are a heretic about art generally.’ (...) ‚I should like to make life beautiful – I mean everybody’s life. And then all this immense expense of art, that seems somehow to lie outside of life and make it no better for the world, pains one.’ (...) ‚I call that the fanaticism of sympathy. (...) The best piety is to enjoy – when you can. (...) And enjoyment radiates. It is of no use to tra and take care of all the world; that is being taken care of when you feel delight – in art or in anything else.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.182).
And while these theories mostly lead to failure, unhappiness and bankruptcy in the middlemarch, towards the end a solution is being offered:
„’We should not grieve, should we, baby?’ said Celia confidentially tot hat unconscious centre and poise oft he world, who had the most remrkable fists all complete even tot he nails, and hair enough, really, when you took his cap off, to make – you didn’t know what: - in short, he was Buddha in a Western form.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.405).
„I have always been thinking of the different ways in which Christianity is taught. (...) It is surely better to pardon too much, than to condemn too much.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.409).
„’I used often to wish I had been something else than a clergymen,’ he said to Lydgate, ‚but perhaps it will be better to try and make as good a clergyman out of myself as I can.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.422).
„It must be remembered that by ‚business’ Caleb never meant money transactions, but the skilful application of labour.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.453).
Caleb „felt himself to be saying something deeply religious. ‚You must be sure of two things: you must love your work, and not be always looking over the edge of it, wanting your play to begin. And the other is, you must not be ashamed of your work, and think it would be more honourable to you to be doing something else. You must have a pride in your own work and in learning it to do well.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.461).
„I believe that people are almost always better than their neighbours think they are.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.603).
„The presence of a noble nature, generous in its wishes, ardent in its charity, changes the lights for us: we begin to see things again in their larger quieter masses , and to believe that we too can be seen and judged in the wholeness of our character.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.627).
„he was recovering his old self in consciousness that he was with one who believed in it.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.627).
„With her tendency to over-estimate the good in others.“ (Eliot, 1994, p.656).