How to Structure Your Book Club Discussion of Middlemarch by George Eliot

If you are looking for a great book to discuss in your book club, then George Eliot’s classic Middlemarch is an excellent choice. With its unique characters, complex storylines, and interesting themes, it provides plenty of food for thought and is perfect for any lively literary discussion. Read on to discover our top ideas for getting the most out of a book club session dedicated to Middlemarch.

BlogHow to Structure Your Book Club Discussion of Middlemarch by George Eliot

If you are looking for a great book to discuss in your book club, then George Eliot’s classic Middlemarch is an excellent choice. With its unique characters, complex storylines, and interesting themes, it provides plenty of food for thought and is perfect for any lively literary discussion. Read on to discover our top ideas for getting the most out of a book club session dedicated to Middlemarch.

Middlemarch: Book Summary

Set in a small rural English town during the 1800s, Middlemarch is an incredibly engaging story about how the inhabitants of this town live their lives. 

It is through the lens of Dorothea Brooke, the main protagonist of the novel, that readers witness life in Middlemarch—from her complicated marriage with Edward Casaubon to her newfound infatuation with Will Ladislaw.

Middlemarch features characters from all walks of life who confront society's issues at that period, such as prejudice and injustice. But ultimately it’s an uplifting story about finding true love, gaining insight into yourself, and following your passions—no matter what they may be. 

Alongside classic literature’s memorable quotes, captivating plot twists, and stunning imagery, Middlemarch serves up complex topics and thought-provoking ideas for readers to chew on for days afterward.

Do You Want to Dive Into All the Intricate Details of the Book? Start Reading Middlemarch Today for Free

Top 3 Lessons We Can Learn From Middlemarch

One of the greatest novels of all time, Middlemarch by George Eliot, is full of timeless lessons that still apply in today’s world. Here are 3 lessons that we can learn from this classic work:

1. The importance of recognizing our flaws and understanding the perspective of others. 

Through her characters’ struggles with inner demons, George Eliot conveys a powerful message about humility and learning to see things from multiple perspectives. This reminder is as relevant now as ever– especially in a world increasingly polarized by divergent opinions.

2. We cannot control everything that happens in our life, but it’s possible to control how we react to those events. 

Throughout Middlemarch, characters struggle with external forces like war, famine, and social change that threaten to destabilize their lives. Yet, despite these external challenges, the novel shows us how many of the characters find ways to be resilient and turn even the most trying situations into opportunities for personal growth.

3. We should recognize the interconnectedness with other people in our lives. 

Through its focus on how relationships between people evolve and affect each other in surprising ways, George Eliot captures a nuanced view of how communities are built upon deep bonds among individuals who care for each other’s well-being. 

This lesson speaks loudly even today and serves as an important reminder of our collective responsibility to care for one another through both good times and bad.

How to Create a Middlemarch-Themed Book Club to Remember

Below, we will explore how to create a Middlemarch-themed book club that will help readers engage more deeply with George Eliot's masterpiece and create a lasting memory.

Decorations

To begin, use table centerpieces featuring small flower arrangements that reflect some of the themes from Middlemarch. You could use bright-colored wildflowers such as daisies and buttercups for their associations with nature and the rural life that characterizes so much of the novel. 

If you prefer something a bit more modern, choose soft white or pastel flowers for a gentle and understated look. Include ribbons or fabric scraps with tones from your color palette, as well as items like books and birdcages that recall aspects of Eliot’s writing.

Consider decorating your space with objects related to specific characters in Middlemarch – perhaps Dorothea Brooke's top hat, or Lydgate's medical instruments. 

Additionally, add items that evoke key moments from the story – like party favors such as lace handkerchiefs in honor of Will Ladislaw’s grand entrance at Mrs. Cadwallader's party. 

The addition of music is another way to capture the mood of Eliot’s classic novel – you could even commission local musicians to perform period pieces if the budget allows.

Food and Drinks

Middlemarch by George Eliot is an incredible literary masterpiece, and as we read this book together, it's fun to also get creative in the kitchen. Consider trying out these dishes and drinks inspired by the characters and setting of Middlemarch.

Start your night with a batch of Dorothea-inspired white peach sangria. Its fruity sweetness symbolizes her compassion and idealism. 

Pair it with Rosamund’s Peach Rose Tartlets – because even though she may not have been a model example of virtue, no one could deny her love for all things delicious! 

And finally, finish up your evening with Will Ladislaw’s Smoked Haddock Salad – a subtle nod to his devilish charm and rakish tendencies. ?

Activities

Questions

1. Are there any characters in Middlemarch who can be seen as an archetype of the ideal Victorian woman? 

2. What messages about gender roles and social class are woven into Middlemarch?

3. What message do you think Eliot is trying to convey with her descriptions of marriage and romance? 

4. How did Rosamond's ambition differ from Lydgate's ambition, and how did their different ambitions shape their outcomes? 

5. Is Dorothea's transformation from a naive young woman into a more mature individual a positive or negative development? 

6. Does Middlemarch have anything to say about power dynamics between men and women during the Victorian era? 

7. In what ways is Middlemarch a timeless narrative that speaks to our current society?

8. What does Dorothea learn from her relationship with Casaubon and how do these lessons influence her decision-making throughout the novel??

9. How do religion and faith play a role in shaping the moral universe of the characters?

10. What is Eliot's commentary on power and its corrupting influences in the novel?

Highlighted Notes

  1. Share a sentence that has been beautifully written
  2. Share advice or life lesson that resonated with you
  3. Share a sentence that portrayed symbolism and your interpretation
  4. Share a sentence that made you laugh 
  5. Share a quote that moved you
  6. Share a phrase that provoked a different feeling

Inspired to Host a Middlemarch-Themed Book Club to Remember? Start Reading Middlemarch Today for Free.