by George Eliot
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Named for the fictional community in which it is set, Middlemarch is George Eliot's rich and teeming portrait of provincial life in Victorian England. In it, a panoply of complicated characters attempt to carry out their destinies against the various social expectations that accompany their classes and genders. At the center of the narrative is Dorothea Brooke, a thoughtful and idealistic young woman determined to make a difference with her life. Enamored of a man she believes is setting this example, she traps herself into a loveless marriage. Her parallel is Tertius Lydgate, a young doctor from the city whose passionate ambition to spread the new science of medicine is complicated by his love for the wrong woman. Epic in scope and unsurpassed in its study of human nature, Middlemarch is one of the greatest works of world literature.