George Eliot’s Classic Pattern of Characterization in Middlemarch

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Dr. Sandhya Tripathi


George Eliot’s complex art of character portrayal has drawn wide-applause. Critics have analyzed her profound and subtle psychological probing into the psyche of her fictional personae, besides drawing their parallelism with actual persons she might have come in contact with. They have also studied the spiritual and ethical solidity or emptiness as well as the moral, mundane, intellectual and transcendental concerns of her characters. To this already adequate and varied studies on Eliot’s art of character portrayal I wish to add another dimension, a structural one, which has hitherto escaped critical scrutiny. In the present paper an attempt has been made to show that sometimes Eliot uses, unconsciously though, the structural pattern of classical tragedy in her delineation of some of her chief protagonists. The theoretical critical framework for this presentation has been taken from Francis Ferguson,1 and the character chosen for analysis is Dorothea Brooke in Eliot’s fictional masterpiece, Middlemarch.


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Dr. Sandhya Tripathi. “George Eliot’s Classic Pattern of Characterization in Middlemarch”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 2, no. 2, June 2017, pp. 95-100,


'Francis Ferguson, The idea of a Theater (New Jersey, 1949)'


Aristotle's Poetic, Chapters VII-XVI

K.S. Misra Henrik Ibsen: A study of His Six Major Tragedies (New Delhi Raj Prakashan, 1993)

George Eliot, Middlemarch (Oxford University Press, 1988) p. 238

Ibid ., p 299.

Ibid., p. 644

Ibid., p. 2

Ibid., p. 8

Ibid., p. 18

Ibid., p. 10

Ibid., p. 21


Ibid., p. 22

Ibid., p. 24


Ibid., p. 36

Ibid., p. 47


Ibid., p.48

Ibid., p. 31

Ibid., p. 160

David Caroll, "Introduction" to Middlemarch, p.4

Henry James, "Review of Middlemarch," The Future of the Novel (New York : Village Books, 1956), p. 85

Middlemarch, pp. 224 - 25

Ibid., p. 173

Ibid., p. 392

Ibid., p. 601

Ibid., p. 643

Eliot's "Letter to Charles Bray," George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters & Journals,. Vol. I (ed). A.W. Cross (Boston: Dana Estes Co., 1929), p. 141

Middlemarch, p. 644