Oh, if only we could all see and accept the people around us as Eliot sees her characters, the good folks of Middlemarch. We, the readers, grow to accept and appreciate the flaws and strengths of each member of the community, usually feeling quite alone, as they struggle with their individual challenges. I grew to know these characters, to consider them friends. As I looked into their eyes, focusing on the motes that Eliot unapologetically floated before me, my inner eye cleared and I could see reflected there my own beams.
The question I must answer now is which bookshelf do I put this on? Do I put it on simply books that I have read? Does it become one of my life-changing books? Was it for sheer enjoyment? Middlemarch can be much more than a mere read for a rainy day or enjoyment for a few undisturbed moments. George Eliot is a master — I guess that’s why this is often required reading in university courses. It should not, however, be required reading only for Humanities or English Literature courses but could be text for Sociology (how to get along with your neighbor), Community Development (how to build strong communities), Personal Finance (live within your means), Political Science (how to disagree without being hateful), and Religion (faith, hope and charity).
This is an exercise in love, the loving one another as fellow human beings that will sustain us as a society.