George Eliot’s characters in the novels discussed here fall within the range of normality of the kind of people among whom she grew up. She does not deal with extremes of good or evil, wealth or poverty, and avoids the extreme ends of the social spectrum, preferring to describe the modest aspirations, moderate habits and average acumen of the rural communities of the midlands; the very title of Middlemarch points unambiguously to her intention. Significantly broader than Jane Austen’s, Eliot’s field of vision is nevertheless restricted. The rich, glittering variety of London life with which Eliot was familiar makes no appearance in these novels. Only in Middlemarch do the protagonists travel farther than locally.
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