Freedom and Determinism in 'Middlemarch', or Dorothea, the Lunatic

Moira Gatens


In a recent monograph, Pauline Nestor asks if George Eliot continues to be relevant to us today. Contrary to some, who argue that Eliot “lives in a distant and unrecoverable country of her own.” Nestor insists that Eliot’s fiction “forms an extended, particularized and dramatic investigation of fundamental ethical problems”, especially those concerning ethical responsibility. I am in broad agreement with Nestor’s treatment of Eliot and in this paper will focus on the ethical problem of freedom and determinism as presented in Middlemarch.

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