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Burchfield.Middlemarch

Heather Buchfield


Published on December 3, 2014

Burchfield 2 aid in graver labours and to cast charm over vacant hours” (28). She misses other details in the letter because she sees what she wants and that is that marriage to him will make her useful because she will “supply aid in graver labours.” Dorothea , more than the reader, uses the letters to extract knowledge, which leads us to what type of knowledge the letter really provides to Dorothea. The low literature genre of the letters affects the knowledge gained by the characters as the letters in the novel tend to misrepresent the characters who write them. Dorothea learns of Casaubon’s intentions after reading his letter as she only suspected his intentions beforehand. According to Robert O. Preyer, “the concern for ‘writing,’ fo r the transmission and storage of received knowledge and the registration in written form of emergent new awareness extended to all sectors of the culture. Sloppy and ineffective language perverted or occluded the process of thought and the chances of comm unicating the contents of consciousness to others” (125). Casaubon’s letter is not sloppy in terms of its flow or vocabulary, but it is ineffective in that Dorothea chooses to ignore the potential awareness of the marriage this letter can give her. After s he finishes reading the narrator states, “How could it occur to her to examine the letter, to look at it critically as a profession of love?” (28). This line hints that perhaps she should read the letter to see if it does make a profession of love, but Cas aubon’s cheesiness deems his real intentions ineffective since Dorothea focuses instead on the knowledge that “a fuller life was opening before her” (28). She sees the knowledge she wishes to see instead of looking beyond the cheesy language of Casaubon’s letter. If she were to look back upon the letter later on in the novel, especially after she realizes her unhappiness with the man, she could possibly realize that the letter hinted that her marriage may not be the hearts and flowers (i.e., happiness) she expects it to be. Godwin Lydgate’s letter also misrepresents him to Rosamond. She writes him to make a plea