‘Stealthy Convergence’ in Middlemarch

  • Robert B. Heilman


‘Stealthy convergence’, it need hardly be said, is extracted from a longer phrase in Middlemarch: ‘the stealthy convergence of human lots’ (11: 70).1 It is George Eliot’s compact description of an ironic development of interconnection among people who do not expect it. It is in effect a restatement of ‘No man is an island’. Yet its emphasis is different: less on the denial of separateness than on the almost imperceptible, or unperceived, process by which apparently independent lots turn out to be related. The primary process takes place, obviously, in the human experience depicted. But there is also a secondary process that is worth attention: it is an important ingredient in Eliot’s depicting methods —her ways of bringing parts into coalescence and ultimate oneness. ‘Convergence’ then not only denotes a conceptual position but is a metaphor for artistic ordering. For Eliot’s characters ‘stealthy’ means a near invisibility of the developments that tie their lives together. For Eliot’ readers it images the inconspicuous devices by which the artist draws us from area to area —the local transitions as well as the organic fusions.


Conceptual Position Fictional Object Worth Attention Fictional Mode Organic Fusion 
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  1. 1.
    Chapter numbers and page references are to the Riverside edition of Middlemarch, ed. Gordon S. Haight (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gordon S. Haight and Rosemary T. VanArsdel 1982

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  • Robert B. Heilman

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