chapter  6
Villages and Towns
Pages 25

A novelist can so depict the face, clothes and manner of a character that the reader fleshes out the simplified portrait with his imagination and notices no artificiality or limitation. But a town, or even a village, presents a problem of a different order. George Eliot proposes at least three distinct ways in which environment can help to determine character. Where aesthetic responses are concerned, whether agreeable or disagreeable, the subject is likely to be the countryside rather than anything in a town or village street. Just as there are techniques for portraying, and making significant, faces, gestures, clothes, houses, so there are means of 'realising' a town or a village. Eliot puts a number of towns and villages in the Midlands. An essential aspect of the town is its relationship to the country. Earlier the town has been described as being 'compact as a box of dominoes'.