Modes of Communication

Throughout Middlemarch a large network of strong and weak ties are made between characters. When contemplating how to measure the strength of these ties, it is necessary to examine the relationships made through the different forms of communications within Middlemarch and the frequency of each type of communication. There are multiple different types of communication: direct (aka talking), written, personal (such as lending money), and gossip (through word of mouth).

The beginning of Middlemarch appears to consist of two different stories that occur simultaneously. Further into the reading, these stories begin to merge, interlinking the nodes of each community. These connections are at first primarily through word of mouth of others. George Eliot repeatedly introduces the characters to each other via gossip, allowing characters to form opinions of others before meeting them in person, coincidently making weak ties between characters.

This form of networking is apparent in the funeral scene of Book Four. In this scene, Will Ladislaw is talked about amongst Mr. Brooke, Dorothea, Celia, Mrs. Cadwallader, Mr. Casaubon, and Sir James. Will Ladislaw is casted in a positive light as Mr. Brooke raves about Will’s clarity and knowledge when speaking about art. This scene contrasts the view drawn by Casaubon when Dorothea first meets Will on their walk. Casaubon brushes off Will, not acknowledging any of his talents. The dissimilarity in the light shed on Will to numerous characters is only one example of how gossip throughout Middlemarch plays an important role in connecting characters, allowing them to form judgments of other.

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