Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Jerry W. Yarbrough


George Eliot's Middlemarch depicts a community of men and women searching for self-actualization through vocation and marriage. While nearly all of the characters in Middlemarch are pursuing relationship and self-knowledge, Middlemarch portrays how nineteenth century gender stereotypes unjustly limit individuals in their quests for identity and relationship. In the novel's depiction of gender conventions restricting men and women from achieving their true potential, Eliot challenges the gender expectations of Victorian England. Middlemarch criticizes the Victorian ideal of passive and reticent women by showing that women require an autonomous identity, a legitimate means to contribute to the world, and a sense of self-realization. Middlemarch also undermines the nineteenth century stereotype that men were entirely independent by unmasking the vulnerability beneath men's self-sufficient facade and by depicting how reality often contradicts men's confident expectations of success.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Eliot, George, 1819-1880. Middlemarch
Sex role in literature
Women in literature




South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright