Middlemarch by George Eliot

The Victorian age presented contravening issues about the church in England. The already established Church of England no longer enjoying dominance it once had. There were other upcoming churches in the society; Catholics, evangelist and other liberal churches were already a great force in country. The same drive of religious contradiction might have inspired George Eliot to write in Middlemarch.  Eliot builds the plot of the book around a Briton society that was deeply embedded in religion.

In this novel, Eliot discusses the broad and the Low Church, the evangelism and the Anglicanism, but did not include touch on the high church. The high church was not developed before the writing of this novel. The story line of the novel revolves around religious life of a village called Middlemarch that was presided over by Reverend Causabon. Towards the beginning of the book, Eliot describes the church as “hardly larger than a parlor” (Eliot 7). This is church was the main worshipping centre of the Middlemarch and followed the doctrines that were taught by the revered Causabon (178). However, there were other two parsons that delivered sermons in same parish besides revered Causabon; Mr. Tyke and Mr. Farebrother.

Eliot does not duel so much on the practices of the preachers but the tradition of the Sunday sermons as elaborated in later chapters. In the church there was a box that was used by the revered preacher during sermons, pews where the congregation sat and a choir that let the church during worship moments. The church parishioners were described as being evangelical in the society.

Bulstrode was rigid and not understanding in his sermons. He did not consult with his parishioners even when situation demanding. His character deflected many who thought he despised their attention and presence in the church. Those who followed the church doctrines liked him but the liberal part of the congregation disliked him. The close attention that Bulstrode gave to members of the church and the society was largely repelled his description of the congregation as having evangelical part and Pharisees (209). The feeling of the society did not alter the discourse path of preaching of the preacher.

Evangelism is again encountered alter in the book when Eliot makes a mention on Vincy’s. Vincy’s were a unique group that had the ability to absorb abuses and rejection by the society and cherish life. The evangelical characteristics of the lot made them behave like a lot that was infected with plague after enduring amusements in the provinces. Eliot writer created an unimpressive picture of the evangelicals (312).

Low Church has dominated most part of the religion mention in the book; the Anglican is not given a great part in the book as the church was still developing in Middlemarch during writing of the book. In chapter 47, her mention of Lowick might have implied the developing church, "Even in 1831 Lowick was at peace, not more agitated by Reform than by the solemn tenor of the Sunday sermon" (345). These statements were a prediction of the disintegration that befell Oxford movement which is supposed to mean the higher church (Anglican).

Amongst the liberal church leaders that are mentioned in the book is Mr. Brooke. Eliot has portrayed the liberals as having both positive and negative aspects in the society; in chapter 6 Mrs. Cadwallader shows her detest for Mr. Brook in his effort to represent the Middlemarch society as a liberal. She states that Mr. Brook dispels his stupidity and is not careful to correct his mistakes and build a positive impression in the public. These statements were placed in the text to show displeasure of the writer in the liberal decrees. Eliot also showed some positive side of the liberals in chapter two. Mr. Brooke was telling Mr. Causabon that Reformers that had quit the roman teaching were not a unit, some liberals had a positive intent when they left while other libeled for just free themselves from Catholicism (556). Mr. Brooke categorically describes himself as a true Protestant who believed that people required a church that would address the after death life but not following scheduled teachings that are regulated form some quota of the church.

In conclusion, the Middlemarch religions have been highlighted in varying facets. Eliot described various aspects of the church, which served to either show strength or weakness of the churches. She used clergymen, parishioners and other characters in the society to deriver her message about the churches. Differences that existed between evangelicals and Anglicanism were displayed by the church leaders in their preaching and believed that they tried to pass to the parishioners. The differences highlighted in the novel served well in displaying existing differences in church foundations.

Order now

Related essays