English, Department of



Henry M. Alley

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 16 (1985) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/


George Eliot Review 2018 (16)


In Middlemarch, Dorothea’s intense moment of disillusionment in Rome has been generally traced to Eliot’s own Italian journey of 1860, when, as Gordon S. Haight notes (324),1 the disappointment in many sights of the Eternal City paralleled her heroine’s. The comparisons are very compelling, especially those involving the joined responses of author and heroine to the interior landscape of St. Paul’s (“the lovely marble… was half-covered with hideous red drapery (Life 132: vol. 2, ch. 10);2 "the red drapery which was being hung for Christmas spreading itself everywhere (was) like a disease of the retina" (226; ch. 20)).3 However, the famous and almost surreal paragraph which shows, with such extraordinary power, "the dimmer but yet eager Titanic life gazing and struggling on walls and ceilings" (226)3 may, in fact, carry another, less direct reference.