Publisher: The Copyright Group Ltd.
Date: May 2017
Duration: 2 hours 25 minutes
George Eliot opens her complex study of life in the provincial Midlands with a brilliant portrait of Dorothea Brooke in all her strengths and weaknesses. Dorothea's misguided marriage is only one of the many, at first seemingly quite separate, stories of thwarted ideals, passions and ambitions. In the end the 'web of relationships' comes together as every character meets an appropriate fate. The story links the struggles of the individuals with the problems of society as a whole, as it wrestles with the disturbances that are approaching through industrialisation and a changing social order. 1. A BETROTHAL. Dorothea Brooke, high minded and puritanical, is bored by the limited horizons of most men in Middlemarch. Only the scholarly, if far older, Casaubon appeals; he, for his part, is lonely. Dorothea's easy going uncle Mr Brooke contests to their hasty marriage, although Celia, her conventional but perceptive sister, is dismayed by what seems a mismatch - a view which is shared by most in Middlemarch. Meanwhile, Tertius Lydgate, an ambitious young doctor, arrived in town. 2. FAMILY AMBITIOUS. The Vincys are revealed as a well-established Middlemarch family. The daughter, Rosamond, is socially ambitious, while the son, Fred, is bone-idle, but with expectation of an inheritance from his uncle, the elderly Mr Featherstone. Rosamond is attracted to Dr Lydgate, who appears almost heroic to her when compared to the ordinary Middlemarch young men. Well-bred and intelligent, he is an idealist who longs to become a great doctor. When they meet, at Featherstone's sickbed, Lydgate finds Rosamund beautiful but he is not thinking of marriage yet. 3. ROMAN HONEYMOON. On their honeymoon in Rome, Dorothea discovers that her learned husband is neither a companion nor a great scholar. He also refuses her help with his studies. Depressed by his coldness, she finds comfort in the company of Will Ladislaw. A young artist and second cousin of Casaubon, whom she has already briefly met. He falls hopelessly in love with her. 4. TRIALS OF LOVE. When Dorothea and Casaubon return home, their marriage is further troubled by a letter from Will asking if he may visit them. Casaubon's distrust of Dorothea upsets her and throws him into a passion. Soon afterward, he suffers a heart attack. Dorothea passes the letter to Mr Brooke, who tactlessly issues his own invitation to Will. Celia meanwhile marries Sir James Chettam, a local landowner. Lydgate, finding Rosamond in tears, proposes to her in a moment of weakness. Old Featherstone dies at last, surrounding by his would-be heirs. 5. STRANGE INHERITANCES. When Featherstone's final will is read out, most people are amazed, for almost everything goes to Joshua Riggs, a stranger to Middlemarch, and Fred is desperately disappointed. He had been hoping that legacy would enable him to marry Mary Garth, his childhood sweetheart. Will Ladislaw, who is staying with Mr Brooke, calls on Dorothea when Casaubon is out. Rigg, however, has a less welcome visitor, the dissolute Raffle, his stepfather. 6. A POISONOUS WILL. Casaubon, wrongly convinced that Will has returned to Middlemarch with Dorothea's knowledge, is tormented by jealousy. He asks her to promise to do only as he decrees, even after his death. She is dismayed by his request, and does not know how to answer him. His sudden death frees her from making the promise, but his will includes a clause disinheriting her if she ever marries Ladislaw. This codicil is kept from Dorothea by her protective family, and from Will by his friends. 7. BLACKMAIL AND REVELATIONS. Bulstrode, the local banker and a pillar of society, buys Stone Court from Rigg but has little time to enjoy it before Raffles return and is surprised to find the house has changed hands - to another acquaintance of his. Raffles and Bulstrode knew each other years before, and Raffles recalls past crimes and misdemeanours, and demands money from the banker. Lydgate also faces money problems, to which Rosamond is unsympathetic. Will is shocked when Rosamond reveals the truth about Casaubon's legacy. Meanwhile, Fred finds useful work. 8. THE SHADOW OF THE PAST. Bulstrode is now haunted by his early dealings in stolen goods, which started his rise to wealth. Raffles, returning once too often and in ill-health, is nursed by Bulstrode under Lydgate's instructions. Lydgate, desperately in debt, appeals to Bulstrode for a Loan, which he receives after he has attended to Raffles. Later that night, by allowing Raffles to have brandy against Lydgate's orders, Bulstrode contrives to ensure his death. 9. DEPARTURES. News of Bulstrode's early dealings leaks out, along with that of his association with Raffles. His reputation ruined. He resigns his posts and leaves Middlemarch. Lydgate, unjustly believed to have hastened Raffles' death to effect a loan from Bulstrode, is also under suspicion, not least from his wife, and they also move away. Will and Dorothea at last declare their love and go to London, where the pursuit of their ideals culminates in Will's election to parliament.