Sunday, February 10, 2013

Middlemarch Character Guide, #NaNoReMo Update #2

For my second #NaNoReMo update on Middlemarch, I'm sharing my character list. This has been vastly helpful going through the residents of Middlemarch, who have sprawled out for 400 pages so far, and have 500 more to go. While the journeys are distinct, there are at least a dozen key players amid a booming cast, and I have the worst memory for names.

Beats Downton Abbey.

Dorothea Brooke (sister): Christian, conservative; loves Pascal, perceives herself as logical. Doesn’t understand art. A focused lens through which Evans is clearly going to fire satire.

Celia: Dorothea’s sister. First awakened lady, starts questioning things and thinks she likes it.

Rev Edward Casaubon: stuffy misogynist, a fixer-upper of a man. No passion about him. Kind of a tool. So naturally, he marries Dorothea.

Rosamond Vincy: Is so used to being pursued that she thinks everybody is in love with her. Well-read but not particularly bright. Sometimes the strawman. At one point falls in love with the idea of a man falling in love with her, even though she doesn’t like him very much. He is not in love with her. Favorite description: “She found time also to read the best novels, and even the second best, and she knew much poetry by heart.” Something about "even the second best" slays me.

Mary: Rosamond’s buddy; shrewd, judgmental. Best quote: “It is the blameless who are most exasperating.”

Fred Vincy: Rosamond's brother. Romantic, might love Mary; down on his luck, a debtor; probably screwed.

Mr. Lydgate: swears he’s going to be rational about women. Didn’t see a black widow coming. Is probably screwed. Low social standing since he’s only a surgeon, not a proper doctor. Very progressive, seems like he might have the closest to Evans/Eliot’s point of view on social issues like skepticism and compassion.

Mr. Bulstrode: Middlemarch powerbroker. Can be meanspirited, very political. Doesn’t eat much or indulge in many vices, yet I can’t stop imagining him as huge, usually as Hardy from Laurel & Hardy.

Mr. Farebrother: Mr. Lamppost Name. Gambles only to support his sick mother, a preacher people from other neighborhoods visit to watch, almost religiously pluralistic or deistic, and so nice he won’t be mad if you vote against him for a job he needs. This guy is screwed.

Mrs. Garth: Mary's mom. Smart lady, probably leader of her household; harder on women than men. Strong female characters who hates women?

Mr. Garth: He’ll have to ask his wife for a personality.


  1. I have a hard time with names too, particularly if they flit in for brief appearances, then disappear for a while, only to pop back in for a nightcap later. Drives me buggy, but then, many things do.

  2. I'm right there with you in struggling with the names in Nickleby, but I don't try as hard to keep them all straight. There are four characters that are so see-though I imagine them all as emanating from the same broken radio. Like if your radio got stuck on one channel with an annoying morning talk show that played all day long- save that they speak poorly for the 19th century, which is far too advanced for a modern-day radio talk show.


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