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7. Victorian Fiction II: Victorian Realism Comes into Its Own in the Intensely Structured Work of the Three Memorable Women Writers: Charlotte Brontė, Emily Brontė and George Eliot

Including a Brief Demonstration of the Ways in Which the Victorian LOW–MIMETIC Realism Projects from BE–LOW (sic!) the Conventions of Romance and the High–Mimetic Modes in Fiction and Pours the Archetypal Mythoi and Imagery into Realistic Molds in ”Wuthering Heights”, ”Jane Eyre” and ”Middlemarch”.

7.1. Characteristics Shared by the Three Feminine Novels as Low–Mimetic and Realistic Fiction .

      If  the first lecture on the Victorian novels written by Dickens and Thackeray applied for unifying purposes Northrop Frye’s combined algorithms of the comic mode (in the first essay of the ”Anatomy”) and of the mythos of comedy (as described in the third essay of the same book), in this lecture, as the long title indicates, what is attempted is an explanation of the way in which the low–mimetic mode lowers the high–mimetic and the romance modes by ”weakening” the applicability of the mythos of summer (or romance) in the process of writing fiction intended as realistic.[1] The novels ”Jane Eyre”, ”Wuthering Heights” and ”Middlemarch” shall serve as illustrations of this tenet.

     On the other hand, it is necessary to anticipate on the main presuppositions of fictional realism as it will appear when analysing the novels by the three feminine authors as major fiction writers in the Victorian Age. Realism presupposes a respect for the dignity of living in reality which respectful attitude can be termed organicism. This is also associated with a descriptive accuracy that obviously transfers into the realm of fiction the empirical assumptions connected to the positivistic practices of science in the 19th century. Thirdly, realism is currently associated with a lucid criticism of stale, received ideas which consequently reveals what is just faulty illusion, whatever is morally condemnable but people choose to hide from themselves and from others in ordinary, everyday social existence. Fourthly, and  by applying Matthew Arnold’s systematic ideas, realism amounts to ”a criticism of life” – a deepened understanding of life since literature offers humanity an enhanced ”interpretive power”; in this respect, the task of realistic fiction is to lead readers towards conclusions that are the same as in real life. Thus, when literary realism applies to the individual psychology and to the collective environment, it can be said to recreate, reveal in detail and in action what lies beneath the conventional, inert life that hasty or indifferent people share quite unreflectively: the inner conflicts and the hidden metamorphoses underlying individual or social existence. This further implies that in realistic fiction the plots have the fluidity of life and the characters are endowed with psychological, social or natural authenticity. There are two important consequences of the first and the second part of this statement respectively, which are maybe less obvious than this otherwise common previous statement. The first consequence  introduces two brands of realism, from this point of view. We can call spritual realism the realism centred on introspection and the understanding/interpretation of human sensibility when it is grounded in the mimetic intention of capturing the hardly controllable impulsivity or the unconscious in their own terms, as Freud or Jung would have it in the 20th century. And we can call scientific realism that brand of realism which is grounded in either the elevating  ethics of the consciously controlled and controllable beautiful souls, on the one hand and/or in the liberal beliefs prompted by the ideal of  harmonious, perfectible social living, on the other hand.The second consequence of the statement about the fluidity and authenticity of realistic fiction is more rhetorical and theoretical. If the realistic plots manifest the fluidity of life, then they obviously work according to what Northrop Frye calls in his fourth essay of the ”Anatomy” the rhythm of continuity, or prose. This ”rhythm” tends to lose its continuity when intense poetry or dramatism are applied to it, as it happens in so many Victorian low–mimetic romances, e.g., Charlotte Brontė’s ”Jane Eyre”. In the difference between the two ”rhythms”, of continuity, or prose and of association, or lyric, as Frye’s rhetoric calls them, we can follow and, in our turn ”anatomize” the way in which Victorian realistic fiction moves from social comedy ( with the mythos of spring) to poetry (with the mythos of romance). In the first lecture on the novel, we looked at this first, sociological hypostasis of Victorian fiction informed by comedy, and appearing, for this reason to be more amorphous because it imitates the social totality that is disorderly, more chaotic; consequently we described as  ”garrulous” and more digressive the narrative method inspiring Thackeray’s panoramas and Dickens’s symphonic observation of human nature in its social manifestation. In this lecture we shall look at the effects the mythos of summer or romance has over fiction, owing to its enhanced lyricism or poetic intensity that breaks the amorphous flow with punctual associations.

We can state that with the longer fictions published after the middle of the Victorian Age, i.e., for the novels  ”Jane Eyre”, ”Wuthering Heights”and  ”Middlemarch” that appeared respectively in 1847, 1848 and 1871–2, realism comes into its own and to terms with himself; or, it becomes by 20th century structuralist standards, structured. In the work of these women–novelists it is the functional design and the… narrative ambition that make the difference –especially as compared to the implied author Dickens’s magnetism, which was mainly due to the power that his imagination and humour had of ”simply” transfiguring the common world of his day. The art of this lecture’s protagonists resides more in the idea which they skilfully invite the reader to contemplate: the confrontation of strength and weakness which the encounter between (human) nature and society occasions. And this in itself is a task or theme compatible with the romance literature of sensibility or with the high–mimetic, demonstrative ideology; or, at any rate, this kind of literature is by no means compatible with comedy, which works with larger, coarser, more externally defined and impersonal blocks. The personalised pledge at the heart of the femine sensibility  informs these authors’ fiction with a functional, systemic construction. The plot and the characters, more often than not the setting or the dominant symbol, together with the narrative method chosen, perfectly motivate each other. Thus, the functional or systemic form of these tightlyknit, acribious novels demonstrates the point which the feminine writers make, and this point has to do with presenting experience as a whole, revealing in its impact upon the sensibility, revealing in the amount of intellectual or symbolic lucidity, intensely compelling and expressive of, ultimately, one person’s lifeworld, the feminine implied author’s illuminated experience. Regarded from the inside, this narrative eloquence or talent amounts to ambition. Outwardly regarded, it is simply a realism of the sensibility, or spiritual realism, as it has been called earlier. The feminine sensibility as ambition seems to focus the fictive lens on something that is not just, and often not really, low or common mimetism of existence but a subjective transcription of experience whose result is a kind of more intense meaning, a strong (because felt) radiation or beam of meaning, very different from casual significance (cf. Gottlob Frege’s distinction between Sinn (sense) und Bedeutung (significance); also cf. the more recent twentieth century opposition between the paradigm of strong logic versus the paradigm of weak logic – which Horia Roman Patapievici applied at length in his description of modernity during the course of lectures he gave at the English Department of the University of Bucharest in the academic year 1998/9) .

7.2. Forms of Confrontation between Opposites and the Forms of Plots in the Three Novels Studied. Romance Functions and Archetypal Associations

     In Charlotte Brontė’s ”Jane Eyre”, the confrontation between strength and weakness takes the positive form of an exemplary progress and metamorphosis involving basically the reciprocal transformation of interiority into strong, exemplary exteriority. Here, through the device of the intimate first–person narrative of interiority, an externally insignificant because ill–favoured person, an orphan girl, is followed, in stages, during her internal growth which amounts to ever stronger outbursts of interiority. The narrative of mutual integration of the interior (Jane’s soul, mind and spirit) with the exterior (Jane’s social milieu) is effected by a corresponding progress in  internal (spiritual) power and external (social) power. Jane’s internal individual strength acting as obstinacy at first, as sharper and sharper virtue, later, is gradually and increasingly validated  as moral charisma or legitimate power over the other inhabitants of the public space. At the heart of the book ”Jane Eyre” is an epiphany of purified power, obtained by the purification in the internal, spiritual order as a pre–condition for the subsequent purification in the external, social space. By fastidious, careful design, individual experience is presented first, then successfully transmitted as a form of initiation and growth. This is formally achieved by the implied author’s building of provisional wholes to be demonstrably and didactically broken only in order to build superior, wider wholes, wholes capable of yielding ever ”stronger” meanings.  Internal and external progress as illustrated by the plot is symbolically (i.e., poetically and so, discontinously, lyrically ) presented as a staged journey whose formative stages correspond to some intiatic steps/stages . Thus, first at Gateshead and Lowood, Jane Eyre’s soul is made and perfected as within a sanctuary, from whence she emerges strengthened in all her human faculties. In Gateshead, where she is kept, as it were, outside the house(hold), at the gate, she develops her imagination in loneliness and she is pushed to the limits of her identity in fear, terror of death and of herself. (As a little girl of ten she is held culpable for every trace of her individuality by the fairy–tale like ”step–aunt”, she is daily tortured by her step–cousins, then she is exceptionally tormented in the gothic story dungeon of the savagely red Red Room. Fear and revolt mark or maim her, threaten to break her self in a kind of ritual death. Then in Lowood she is restored and brought back into the fold of shared humanity with/by Helen Burns who burns with godly lovingkindness and by Miss Temple, whose name itself points to the sacramental effects of Jane’s stay at Lowod. Next, the newly acquired, serene, powerful and optimistic because spiritualised personality of the young governess at Thornfield Hall will be further subjected to the fire–test of temptation in the symbolically ambiguous paradise/hell of the wealthy mansion, whose significance appears to be ”the field that seems peaceful only to work as an excruciating crown of thorns”. For Jane, Thornfield is, socially speaking, a potential ”pleasure dome” , to paraphrase Coleridge’s phrase at the beginning of ”Kubla Khan”. Here she finds pleasure in complete fulfilment as a governness with power over the young (Adèle),  the mature (Rochester) and the old (Mrs. Fairfax) alike. Here, therefore, her feminine identity has best prospects of being made whole in a social paradise. But the Puritanical obsession, the Biblical analogy, prompts the Victorian implied author with a detour. The reader will have a chance of observing Jane re–enact with a difference the story of man’s fall. Rochester will be cast for a moment as a mere tempter, having another, mad wife hidden in the attic even while proposing to Jane. When, therefore, after he has whispered the magic spell of his declared love in Jane’s ear and asked her in marriage, and after she has accepted him, he is proved to be just like the serpent who can only make promises greater than he can keep; Jane realizes in time and gives thanks to the voices of her conscience awoken in the night–time that she has to leave unoccupied the position of legitimate power over the household as its mistress. The reader will not be given time to doubt the heroine and wonder if she will exceed the mark, like Adam when prompted by Eve who set her eyes on and gave her ear to the serpent. (Here the gender roles are reversed, of course, with the male as the weaker of the pair!). No, Jane does not yield to the external temptation of deserved, but impossible external power. Instead, on realising what kind of mistress she could only become with Rochester already married to a former wife, Jane chooses to flee not fall. She runs for her life through a self–imposed wilderness beyond the Eden that she does not lose by falling. The social wilderness she is courageous enough to confront will not crush her but reward her. Another set of founding, archetypal stories of the old world are echoed at this point in the story; and their purpose is to provide an external, social counterpart to the internal adventure in the heroine’s powerful soul. First, like Moses and the chosen Jewish people, the trying exodus undertaken by Jane will be crowned by eventual triumph in Canaan, the land of milk and honey. Here the Canaan is called Moor House. It will make for Jane the best household  that she had ever lodged in, being both genteel and peaceful, and even more, providing a brotherly and sisterly family much more genuine than the Reed family of cousins Jane had had according to ordinary ties of blood or kinship at Gateshead. Secondly, Jane can be seen to flee from Thornfield Hall as if pursued by the Erinies, the furies of Greek tragedy. Only, these are not her own furies, but rather the shared furies of the rabid titans enchained together at Thornfield Hall: Bertha Mason and Edward Rochester. Because Thornfield had actually been a household secretely ruled by disaster and  fiery, secret rage in Jane Eyre’s absence. (It would also be literally consumed by its fire after Jane’s departure from  – ”the Thornfield …Hell”). By contrast to fiery Thornfield, Moor House will remain dominated by ice once the warm–hearted feminine figures of Mary and Diana Rivers leave it to become, just like Jane Eyre earlier, governesses in a big town of the south. The cause of this formerly harmonious household’s freezing will be the apostolic parish priest St. John Rivers, Jane’s new suitor. Just like many a martyr in ”The Lives of  Saints”, Jane will be subjected to the test of ice, after having been subjected to that of fire. In resisting St. John River’s missionary appeals to her for becoming his companion in a brotherly marriage devoid of love, Jane Eyre’s apotheosis is both internal and external : as a strong soul, Jane discriminates between what may be good in its own terms (a missionary’s career)  but not good for her own nature (becoming a man’s wife without love); she does not mistake the externally good for the internally good, and this is her greater strength, as a round feminine character, than St. John’s strength, a stock priestly character. Ready to leave behind her external fulfilment as St. John Rivers’ mate bound for Australia  –  just as she had been ready to leave behind internal self–fulfilment alongside with the external, social one as mistress at Thornfield, Jane Eyre’s power will be momentarily impaired, it would seem, only to emerge even stronger in the end. The demonstrative structural amplification of Jane’s circle of identity will be again effected by first breaking it radically. The rites of passage sequence of cyclical break–ups will end by the desirable climax of the renewed encounter with Edward Rochester crowned by marriage at Ferndean. Here the dean, Rochester, venerable and shadowy as the fern among the flowers, will be met like a blind Lear or Oedipus elevated to the status of an external hero, having been in his turn purged by the fire and the sparagmos or ritual maiming, according to the best rules of romance. The mating of the royal pair of lovers and  powerful beings will be effected now, at last, at the end of the journey which had been an ordinary trip through life for Rochester until he’d met Jane whom life had already singled out for becoming engaged in a quest–journey. Jane, the inward rebel turned saint thanks to the external circumstances, several times over in the novel (as many times as there are stages to her journey after her going a–head once completely out of the gate at Gateshead) will thus apotheotically end up by appropriating – in marriage – the external, social, conventional realm, after her final marriage in strength with this realm’s reclaimed fiend turned angel himself  – as a result of his own shedding of weakness in favour of spiritual, moral, religious strength and rectitude. In spiritualised terms, the vertical, intimately internal dimension reclaims, internalizes, appropriates the horizontal, social or public dimension. In this way, Victorian social reality and its values find themselves hallowed by Jane’s progress, in Jane’s name, by Jane’s apotheotic marriage. This finally proves that the title of this novel was meant as more than an index for its centering merely on Jane’s internal and external adventures in the Victorian social environment; it aimed further, in a sermonic gesture, at indicating the ritual transfiguraion of lived experience under the impact of spiritual belief.

By contrast, the other two feminine novels brush–up against romance in a less linear and less typical manner. Their forms of spiritual belief are of a very different brand. In an agnostic, liberal commentary on religious or intellectual romance, ”Middlemarch” will simply reverse and void first the saintly legend of Saint Theresa’s life of mystical aspiration on the vertical which is presented in ”The Prelude”; it will effect this by emptying first Dorothea’s intellectual and marital early aspirations; next it will doom the spiritually ascending quest of Tertius Lydgate’s scientific romance by practically demonstrating that science and romance – in both senses – are mutually exclusive. In this respect, ”Middlemarch” demonstrates in best low–mimetic terms the attrition of  heroism in real life, as it contemplates the reversal of power or strength into subjection and weakness, in an ironic exchange. It is an instance of  critical realism in the two senses of the word ”criticism”. It criticises life by placing it against the background of the ideal, as Matthew Arnold advocated in his essays, and it shows in what way shared commonplaces are shallow. In the first sense, this novel draws its low mimetic power from the same standard feminine theme of the confrontation between good  ( power) and evil (weakness) usually encountered in the black and white colours of romance; also, it contemplates a panoramic hierarchy of social and psychological power in which the high–mimetic heroes as leaders of men  are rather shown to be trapped in a web of deterministic relationships of their own make, which contradict their need for absolute power. This is the crux of George Eliot’s realistic matter. In this respect, ”Middlemarch” uses the weakening of the vertical high–mimetic  pyramidal structure in the service of the realistic criticism of social institutions and entire social milieus characteristic for Victorianism. But it is still the romance or high–mimetic presuppositions that offer to George Eliot the pretext for her tightly–knit structurality in ”Middlemarch”. Her acribious fictional structure which J. Hillis Miller symbolically projects in the form of the web is achieved by the choice of  not one but two high–mimetic protagonists, endowed with potential heroic stature, Dorothea and Lydgate who are rendered maturer and disenchanted by low–mimetic plots. They are caused by the implied author’s choice of an adverse environment for her idealistic protagonists. They are placed in the provincial, narrow–minded environment of Middlemarch in which they will get involved too intimately, by marriage to stock low–mimetic social types (the intellectual and human fraud, Casaubon and the shallow but greedy puppet Rosamond Vincy, in every respect her brother’s sister…) In this way, George Eliot starts where Charlotte Brontė ends: the progress is in ”Middlemarch” from the blinding light of the illusions gloriously harboured inside the heroes’ souls at the beginning, towards the subdued, middle light of experience or even the resigned penumbra at the end of the book; on the contrary, as shown above, in Charlotte Brontė’s book the progress is from Jane Eyre’s hardly contained ire at the beginning of the novel towards her radiating inner light that conquers an ever wider expanse in her exterior world from the middle of the book onwards.

For the best part of ”Wuthering Heights”, on the other hand, another opposition will reign, which reverses both Charlotte Brontė’s triumphal marriage of true minds – at the same time a marriage of true social fringes with true social centres – and George Eliot’s critical rejection of the same. This opposition reigning in ”Wuthering Heights” is the opposition between, on the one hand, the elemental (as represented by Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff as a bachelor, by Hareton Earnshaw and  Catherine Linton, as well as by the Heights itself) and, on the other hand, the socially tamed nature (as represented by the Linton clan at Thrushcross Grange, and by the Grange itself, by Nelly Dean and Joseph as inept servants at Wuthering Heights, and especially by the social and elemental outsider, Mr. Lockwood himself, through whose eyes we come into contact with the two opposed worlds). We can further recognize a topical opposition of (the earlier) Victorianism: that between Carlylean vitalism with its emotional excesses and utilitarian Benthamism with its moderation; this renders the novel topical not only in view of its romantic intensity in an age of compromise but also as a landmark or stepping stone in ”the living stream” of Victorianism, for once recognised as troubled, just as in William Butler Yeats’s poem ”Easter 1916”. Also, by comparison to Charlotte’s serious parable of ascent into a socially virtuous Victorian heaven , ”Wuthering Heights” is, archetypally speaking, a novel which explores the fall of the elemental nature into the Victorian social purgatory; this fall is comparable through its effects to a general fall of souls from paradise. The fall is in ”Wuthering Heights” the cyclical fall from empathy: first, the fall from strict familial empathy of the Earnshaws, when the father, Old Mr. Earnshaw unwittinly brought along with him from the outside, remote space the alien/alienated/alienating orphan; next, the fall from empathy of the two elemental kindred souls Catherine and Heathcliff, dramatised at length in the novel; then the further fall of Heathcliff by ”the mean gratification of his vengeance”, his complete abdication from the dignity of human fellowship in the wake of his loss of identity after Catherine’s betrayal and subsequent death. All in all, a chain of falls: first the archetypal one, the fall of angels from heaven, next the socially induced estrangement from the vitality of childhood – in an ironically reversed interpretation of physical and social growth as degeneration; consequently, a last fall from every form of human dignity back into savageness: a case of genuine Freudian regression. No wonder then that the only anodyne to such a chain–reaction of falls remains death itself which ideally restores to quiet slumbers the set of the Victorian souls. And this slumber would be directly similar to the craving for lethal oblivion traceable in Tennyson’s Greek parable or pastiche of ”The Lotos Eaters”  or in Swinburne’s professions of faith in the Proserpine poems – but for the novel ”Wuthering Heights” swerving away into the backroads of ghostly romance, where the supernatural is allowed to let in the soothingly innocent air of reconciliation through the fantastic infinity.

Thus, it appears that the weakening of the romance conventions in the low–mimetic mode novels whose major aim is analytical, critical and classifying is effected by several signifying practices which mainly involve an increase in the myths’ inclusiveness and applicability to the 19th century lifeworld. This is achieved by extending the scope of myths and archetypes while also diluting their punctuality : by overlapping various mythoi and archetypal imagery, as could be observed in the case of ”Jane Eyre”, i.e. by increasing the mythical density and strengthening the signifying power of one myth in the context of the neighbouring one, also by cutting, pasting and offsetting parts of myths and by combining archetypal imagery; by subjecting the vertical axis mundi to the test of the horizontal stream of conventional existence, as it happens in both ”Middlemarch” and ”Wuthering Hieghts” – in the case of the former novel by using experimentally intellectual techniques that separate elements from the romance (or high–mimetic) pattern and pit them against the critical patterns of received social observation, while in the latter novel, by simply distributing into radically opposing camps whole blocks of characters, temporal and generational social formations and repeating entire meaningful sets in cycles. All these operations can be summed up as an instance when myths are used for social or psychological observation and commentary. But in this way, the ambitious commentary of romance interrupts with poetry and abstract artificiality the authentic flow or formal rhytm of continuity characteristic for realism. (In George Eliot’s ”Middlemarch”, the very starting point which operates on the vertical represents an artificially exterior projection that ”contradicts” the horizontal verisimilitude of the otherwise realistic enough narratological fabric of the web; also, the device of the two protagonists and main threads which the implied author of this long novel ultimately decided to weave together betrays the author’s love of parallelism in opposition or viceversa; not to mention the set of conventional high–mimetic healthy, not always wealthy and wise, pairs of morally Victorian titans such as the Garth family in ”Middlemarch” strictly opposed to pigmies that the equally Victorian Vincys represent in contrast to their ”victors’ ” names (consider the Latin verb ”vinco, vincere” and the ideal ”amor vincit omnia”).

7.3. The Structurality of the Women Novelists’ Narrative Structures

Retracing the narratological cohesion effects of the Victorian realistic romances already mentioned under 7.1, what ultimately interests us, however, is the exact manner in which these determined women–novelists managed to communicate so brilliantly their intensely felt ideas, when putting romance and the lyrically discontinous rhythm of association, as Frye puts it – or the symbolism of poetry, as anyone else could put it, for that matter – in the service of  what we have called spiritual realism. The ambitiously feminine novelists availed themselves of the purely symbolic power of  repetition with variations, which is a principle of association,  the principle of lyrical creation when not a downright theoretical ars combinatoria per se. We have demonstrated beforehand that the allegory of experience operates by cycles or stages in ”Jane Eyre”, building ever stronger and wider didactic or initiatic wholes. Similarly, we have shown how the plot of the novel ”Middlemarch” springs forth from the system of parallelisms and dissonant clashes between aspiration and social determinism as represented by the web for every character caught in its nodal points. Or, though not expressly stressed, in ”Wuthering Heights” we have witnessed the implacable operation of chain reactions spanning over three generations whose histories are mutually and circularly determined by multiple associations. Narratologically speaking, the result is that the plot threads, the pairs of characters – more often than not placed in direct opposition –, the – usually symbolic – atmosphere and the narrative devices, such as the narrators’ voices employed tend to absolutely or infinitely converge into or towards a structural or semantic centre in such romance–novels as ”Jane Eyre”, ”Wuthering Heights” or the ’high–mimetic romance’ ”Middlemarch”. (But Dickens’s ”Great Expectations” or ”Bleak House” or ”Our Mutual Friend” show a very similar tendency of being carefully staged novels, not to mention Thomas Hardy’s novels cut into highly artistic dramatic chunks or phases). The sensation, as recorded first by F. R. Leavis in his ”The Great Tradition”, is that such fictional universes become analysable in perfectly motivated plots as a function of the characters (and viceversa), better understood because supported by the general atmosphere of the book’s setting and ultimately explicable owing to the narrative equation adopted. A tightly motivated, fully significant system of relations connects the stages of the plot with each other in deterministic patterns that are helped because they are further highlighted by the settings; the settings testify to the dangerous distance existing between the interior and the exterior of people in action (”Jane Eyre”), or to the troublesome freedom of untamed liberal spirits (in ”Wuthering Heights” and at Wuthering Heights) also threatened by a similarly dangerous distance in space between freedom and civilisation as typified by the – physical and qualitative – milleage separating Wuthering Heights from Thrushcross Grange; the doubly unreliable point of view of the two dramatised narrators in ”Wuthering Heights”, Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Dean, is so chosen as to enhance the mystery of the narrative to which they remain practically exterior throughout the book. In ”Middlemarch” the social settings are ultimately  rendered symbolical of the high likelihood of human ideals being suppressed amidst the stuffy provincial atmosphere of the actual life; this is achieved  by means of the plot which indelibly places both Dorothea Brooke and Dr. Tertius Lydgate at cross purposes with their environment in which they get intimately involved due to the deterministic forces of their own psychological make–up. As personally flawed representatives of  the most advanced Victorian ideas, the two protagonists work as avant–garde Victorians confronting  mass Victorianism, they seem/are modelled on the suggested essay debates between the received Victorian conventions and their better versions, so that we, readers, can subsequently interpret intellectually rather than emotionally the appearance of Will Ladislaw as the lucky insinuation into the hopeless Victorian picture of  the metropolitan air of Renaissance hedonism  and classicist rationalism (translated as modern aestheticism or as liberal thinking in commonsensical matters of  ideas and taste). This makes us read ”Middlemarch” for aesthetically contemplating the interaction between the intellectual or cognitive values which we have encountered in the essay too, with the purely ‘human’ values as Wayne Booth defined them in his ”Rhetoric of  Fiction”, that connect the protagonists with their Victorian environment. The narrative prowess of these feminine novels, the density of patterns amounting to ”strong” wholes worth contemplating aesthetically recommends them for our theoretical, speculative purposes,  i.e. for narratological or archetypal or Freudian and psychological analyses or sociologically Marxist or phenomenologically descriptive purposes typical for the 20th century horizon of expectations.

[1] Although Thomas Hardy’s fiction is not analysed in the frame of this lecture, it is obviously possible to demonstrate how a similar transposition of the mythos of autumn, or tragedy occurs in his Victorian novels by the low–mimetic use of archetypal imagery and plot–developments with realistic purposes.

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