Will Ladislaw as Artist George Eliot's Middlemarch

Fujita, Gayle
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
A complete understanding of Will Ladislaw is necessary to understanding the difference between. Dorothea's and Lydgate's tragedies, which is the essence of Middlemarch. No doubt the depth of Lydgate's tragedy tends to remain with us most vividly, but Eliot's prologue summarizing the fates of would-be St. Theresas establishes Dorothea's story as primary. Dorothea is a product of Middlemarch society, but she is a fluke, a cygnet among the ducklings. Her experience illustrates what society does with such flukes and how their destinies are worked out by their interaction with others. Dorothea certainly never becomes a St. Theresa, and that is her tragedy. But unlike Lydgate, who fails equally to realize his ideals, she is not completely destroyed. The main point in juxtaposing their fates is to understand why Dorothea achieves the happiness she does, why she escapes partially the leveling force of the provincial mind which wrecks Lydgate's career.
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