Almost every leading thought of George Eliot’s philosophy and ethics is unfolded in greater or less degree in this novel. It is full of brave, wholesome teaching, and of clear insight into the consequences of conduct.
Romola is the most thoughtful, the most ambitious, the most philosophical of George Eliot’s works; and it is also the most lacking in spontaneity, and more than any other shows the evidences of the artist’s labors. Yet by many persons it will be accepted as the greatest of her works, and not without the best of reasons. It contains some of her most original characters, gives a remarkable emphasis to great moral laws, and interprets the spiritual influence of the conflict which is ever waging between tradition and advancing culture as no other has done. It is a thought-provoking book, a book of the highest moral aims.
FELIX HOLT AND MIDDLEMARCH.
The scenes of George Eliot’s later novels are laid in England, but for the most part among a town rather than a rural population. Instead of Hayslope and Raveloe, Mrs. Poyser and Silas Marner, we have Middlemarch and Treby Magna, Dorothea Brooke and Felix Holt. If Felix Holt is quite as much a working-man as Adam Bede, occupying a social position higher in no respect whatever, yet he is a workingman of a far different type. If Adam is the nobler character, the truer type of man, Felix represents a larger social purpose and has higher moral aims. In Adam Bede, we find rustic simplicity and contentment, but in Felix Holt we touch social aspirations and political ambitions. The horizon has widened, the plane of social life has lifted, there are new motives and larger ideals.