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The online laboratory for NAI Seniors's study of George Eliot's Middlemarch.

Microscopic Fictions: Close Reading Seminars

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Microscopic Fictions: Close Reading seminars on the “Cadwallader” Microscope Passage/ USC NAI AP English Lit Students + English 425 USC Students
October 24 Monday and October 26 Wednesday 750-915 AM USC


*George Eliot, Middlemarch

From Chapter 6

Now, why on earth should Mrs. Cadwallader have been at all busy about Miss Brooke's marriage; and why, when one match that she liked to think she had a hand in was frustrated, should she have straightway contrived the preliminaries of another? Was there any ingenious plot, any hide-and-seek course of action, which might be detected by a careful telescopic watch? Not at all: a telescope might have swept the parishes of Tipton and Freshitt, the whole area visited by Mrs. Cadwallader in her phaeton, without witnessing any interview that could excite suspicion, or any scene from which she did not return with the same unperturbed keenness of eye and the same high natural color. In fact, if that convenient vehicle had existed in the days of the Seven Sages, one of them would doubtless have remarked, that you can know little of women by following them about in their pony-phaetons. Even with a microscope directed on a water-drop we find ourselves making interpretations which turn out to be rather coarse; for whereas under a weak lens you may seem to see a creature exhibiting an active voracity into which other smaller creatures actively play as if they were so many animated tax-pennies, a stronger lens reveals to you certain tiniest hairlets which make vortices for these victims while the swallower waits passively at his receipt of custom. In this way, metaphorically speaking, a strong lens applied to Mrs. Cadwallader's match-making will show a play of minute causes producing what may be called thought and speech vortices to bring her the sort of food she needed.

From Chapter 27 
Let the high Muse chant loves Olympian: 
We are but mortals, and must sing of man.
An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science, has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination, and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are going everywhere impartially and it is only your candle which produces the flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive optical selection. These things are a parable. The scratches are events, and the candle is the egoism of any person now absent—of Miss Vincy, for example. "

On May 24 and May 27, USC students in Professor Griffith's English 452 Radical Victorians class visited our classroom to lead close-reading seminars on the above passages. Professor Griffiths closed our session with a reading of these scientific parables, guiding us to see how Eliot's novel might have been proposing even more radical ways of perceiving and understanding our world.  Post your comments to this session here!

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  1. I want to start off by saying thank you to Professor Griffiths and his students for joining us on Monday May 24th; it was an honor being able to work with a college student because we were able to see the different perspectives on the passages we reviewed in class. Professor Griffiths made a clear distinction between the novel and real life, he mentioned that the Pier-glass passage conveys the idea of many perspectives and since we can’t just put our ego away Eliot wants us to gather all of our different perspectives and try to put them together to understand and see everything more clearly, he also mentioned that gathering our perspectives is a limitation of Science because Science can only take us so far. In the Pier-glass passage “[our] pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination, and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun.” Eliot really portrays egoism with this metaphor by letting us know that we tend to create patterns in events that aren’t connected at all; with Ashley, one of the college students, we discussed that having scratches or events on the pier-glass which in this case is our perspective, makes the person holding the candle blind because the scratches are blocking the view to actually see what is really there, so we become blinded to not only our own understanding of a certain event but also to others’ perspectives as well. Lastly we tied this into Science and how Eliot used Science to understand why Rosamund and the other characters act the way they do and how everyone’s mind is different.

    Angelica Vasquez Period 1

  2. Adamaris MaldonadoOctober 30, 2016 at 1:00 PM

    Thanks to Professor Griffiths and his students for sharing their thoughts on these two passages! Examining different perspectives to a similar text helped expand our understanding of Middlemarch. One thing I’d like to point out is the difference between a weak lens and a stronger lens. With a weak lens, you see certain things but not everything. Therefore, you must connect the dots yourself. But, with a stronger lens, you see the specific bigger picture and that is what Ms.Cadwallader is applied to. Her social class and mobility allows her to say and do whatever she pleases, like when she wanted Sir James to court Celia. She showed Sir James a stronger lens and influenced him with what is happening around them. In the pier-glass passage, there is a connection between the scratches and the candle. The events that occur around us and what we make of them is due to our own egoism. In Miss Vincy’s case, her decision to stay home with Fred in order to see Lydgate.
    -Adamaris Maldonado P.1

  3. During Professor Griffith’s visit to our class I gained a new perspective on both the passage on Mrs. Cadwallader and the passage on the pier glass. I had difficulty understanding the passage on Mrs. Cadwallader but my mentor really helped clarify it. The passage starts by stating if a telescope were to look at all the place visited by Mrs. Cadwallader nothing suspicious would be found. Eliot is trying to tell us that you will not know someones true intentions by looking at them on the surface, to know what someone really wants or is doing you have to look closely. To show the idea of looking closely Eliot uses the image of a microscopic lens. She compares a weak lens to a strong lens and states that although they are both lenses they can cause us to have different perspectives. My mentor explained that the weak lens shows two amoebas and one is more active than the other and through a strong lens it is completely different. I was confused about the strong lens but after reading and analyzing the sentence it made sense. The hailrlets were the only things moving and thats what made the amoeba able to capture the other. This is tied to Mrs. Cadwallder because her thoughts and speech are the hairless which cause and effect throughout MIddlemarch. After reading the passage closely and getting a better understanding because of my mentor I will do my close reading on this passage instead of the pier glass passage.

  4. Thank you to our one great professor: Professor Griffith and his fellow students for elaborating and going deep into the two chapters that had more detail than what they said. I was very grateful of having an outstanding mentor because he really brought to my attention the main idea of the passages and he also emphasized how a lense can be on big general thing but it can also be very different in the sense that some are weaker and others are stronger. For instance, a weak lens is only capable of having a broad or general view with restrictions but in the other hand the stronger lens has the potential to go deep into detail and is able to see things two times more detailed and not have any restrictions like the other lens. In addition, with the microscopic lenses I learned that it can also be a type of perspective that a person has on another. During our group discussion about Middlemarch, my group and I have made a connection that Mrs.Cadwallader was more of a stronger sense than a weak sense because she did things that impacted the community or even herself regarding her social class and where she stands.

  5. Thank you very much Professor Griffith for your insightful lecture in regard to the two passages that although it was very confusing to understand it was amazing to unfold. For example the pier glass passage in which every student believed it was a message talking about egoism and how we derive events to happen due to our actions, but little did we know another new one arose. Professor Griffith proposed that instead of seeing the a pier glass through one source of light and start to determine our own interpretation but instead gather many lights to spread across the pier glass and view every scratch or event clear as more perspectives lead to clarity. its fascinating how science brings literature to a whole new level as it enhances our imagination. I will write my close ready on based off this passage that believe applies to all of us.

  6. Thank you Professor Griffith and to the bright Trojans who helped us come along this way by sharing your thoughts on these two passages. It was extremely helpful to have the insights of one’s upper analysis regarding these two passages. The lecture of Professor Griffith strongly acknowledge my own-way of thinking into the pier class passage. I fully understood it much better from their own perspectives. Professor Griffith offered bright insights upon the pier glass passage in we suggested in the beginning that it was a message talking about egoism, on how we adjust these events to happen due to our actions. I like how he mentioned about gathering many lights to spread across the pier glass and view each scratch or event clearly. Also, my mentor fully helped me understand the passage as a whole with greater analysis of the narrator’s point of view. He mentioned how the narrator uses greater techniques such as metaphor for the contrary effect of the scratches, concentric circles, and candle. The narrator compares these views as a “parable” illusion.

    Juan Pablo Blanco Period 1

  7. During Professor Griffith seminar I got a whole new understanding of the two passages and how it reflects in life. In the passage with microscopes, Eliot compares Mrs.Cadwallader to an amoeba. Eliots choice of words such as passively indicates how Mrs.Cadwallader gossips in a non agressive way. Eliot's comparison of Mrs.Cadwallader to an amoeba shows how she needs gossip to live just like an amoeba needs food. In the other passage of the pierre glass, Eliot shows how someone's ego can get the best of them. In the passage Eliot show how a mirror has random scratches but if you hold up the light of a candle it creates vortices. What I got from this is that the word revolves around each one of us and we only see what we want to see. If we come together and see what others see we can see the true picture of what revolves around us and see the truth that surrounds each one of us.
    Juan Zavaleta, Period 2

  8. Thank you Professor Griffith and his USC students for sharing and opening our eyes on these two passages! I appreciated the analysis on the Mrs. Cadwallader passage and the idea of looking closely and how George Eliot uses lenses to show this. With the weaker lens you are bound to see a certain amount but with the stronger lens you get to see everything. Depending on your class and gender is what creates in your mind what you’re going to see or what you’re going to be doing. Also, I was introduced to a new understanding of the pier glass by Professor Griffith. Instead of thinking about the candle being our ego and how we interpret the scratches our own way through our own actions, Professor Griffith suggests to get many lights to spread across which will make each scratch/event more clear. I intend to focus on this passage for my close reading or more specifically the idea of central with diffuse and how George Eliot uses the contrast between those two ideas in order to show us her meaning of observing everyone’s perspective.

    Oswerd Xol | Period 1

  9. I would like to thank Professor Griffith as well as the USC students for taking time out of their busy schedule to come and contribute to our class in further analysis the two passages from MiddleMarch. I truly enjoyed not only working side-by-side with college-level English students, but also relating the themes used in MiddleMarch to the real world and realize that these themes are so relatable in today’s society. For example in the 1st passage with Ms. Cadwallader, there were several lessons and messages in the passage but the one that i found most interesting is the lesson about how we should further inspect a person instead of merely looking at them and judging them based on that. My group and I were challenged by finding this message in the passage and so was the College student but we worked together in order to find and decrypt the message in the passage. Once we figured it out, we started to have a conversation about how the passage’s message is very much relatable. I enjoyed having this seminar as it further opened my mind into close-reading such works of literature like MiddleMarch.

    Ricardo Giles
    Period 1

  10. First off, I would like to give a huge shoutout to actually taking the time out to critically analyze both passages. I agree with Professor Griffith's point when he said "you need all of the observations you can get to get an overview" because as a reader, I see this idea of assumptions being a recurring thing that consistently appears throughout the novel. In return, we start to see characters confidence and image diminish. Some characters start to go through the "dead hand" experience like Fred and Bulstrode.

    "Even with a microscope directed on a water-drop, we find ourselves making interpretations which turn out to be rather coarse:"

    This particular phrase stood out to me because I personally feel that one observation is not enough because one misinterpretation can dramatically affect the greater outcome. The good thing about making one observation is that it can lead to many other ideas, but that isn't always affective. For example, Dorothea is a women who was looking to casuabon as a mentor. A man that she thought would fit her specific standards of a husband, but later finds out that Casaubon is insecure and afraid of Dorothea having her own perspectives.
    Dorothea had the idea that she was like a scientist microscopically observing Casaubon like a scientist would with the right interpretations, but her ideas were rather coarse(loose).

    One similarity between novelist and scientists from this idea of "assumptions" is that both have to come up with their own hypothesis. Having an educated guess. In this case, each character in this novel is an experience/experiment. Elliot is the novelist/scientist and these characters are the experiment. The experience would be what the readers, middlemarchers, and characters get from implicitly analyzing this novel or being in the book. But even the reader and characters observations, assumptions, and conclusions can "be rather coarse."

  11. Thank you to Professor Griffith and his wonderful students, your insights were much appreciated. Something that I found particularly insightful from Professor Griffith's comments, was the comment he made about different perspectives. I had never thought of the Pier Glass passage in that way or so deeply. I never gave the importance of each character in Middlemarch much thought but, now it has been made clear to me why each of them is important. Every character provides a different perspective that creates the novel as a whole, if you take away one of the characters it's like taking away a puzzle piece, the end result will be incomplete. The importance of each character does not lie in its individual importance but its importance as a whole. You can't just have the major center pieces of a puzzle and say it's complete, you need to have the little edge pieces in order to have the whole picture.
    I also liked Professor Griffith's analysis of the scratches and the candle. He mentioned that Eliot conveyed that we as people are shaped by society, we are who we are because society made us that way and I believe that this is completely true. Rosamund is a character that was shaped by her society. In Middlemarch how much money you have, who your family is, and who you marry means everything and because of this fact Rosamund married Lydgate in order to reach the higher status she so desperately wanted.

    Breana Davidson P#2

  12. Thanks to Professor Griffith and to the college students for taking their time and for elaborating on these two passages. Before that class session I had trouble understanding the meaning of these two passages but after having our mentors help and professor Griffith's lecture it was a lot more clear. In the first passage concerning Mrs. Cadwallader and the amoeba, Eliot compares both of them and explains how they're both similar. They're similar in that Mrs. Cadwallader sort of needs gossip to live just like an amoeba needs it's food. I also had trouble understanding the reference of the strong lens and the weak lens but now what I understand from it is that a weak lens is only able of showing us a broad view of a picture but with the stronger lens we are able to see it in depth and with all of its details. As for the last passage about the pier glass, my mentor really helped clear up the picture. The scratches on the pier glass or extensive surface of polished steal are not caused by you but by someone else, and these scratches are the events. When you place a candle against it the scratches seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun, almost like a solar system. That sun or that candle is the egoism of a person and a common saying of someone who is very egotistic is that they are center of the universe. Lastly for professor Griffiths lecture I understood that if we all put a candle against that pier glass we don't see any concentric circles anymore but absolutely all the scratches on the glass, when we put all of our perspectives then we can see the whole picture.

    - Gabriel Juarez Period 1

  13. I want to start off by thanking Professor Griffiths and his students for sharing their time and thoughts on the two passages from Middlemarch. I think Professor Griffiths and his students really helped me to have a better understanding on what the passages meant and the message they were trying to convey. In the Cadwallader passage, the narrator compared microscope lenses to how we view people; specifically about two lenses, a strong and weak lens. The weak lens is just a vague perception of someone whereas using the stronger lens lets you see a "coarse" perception of someone, or you start noticing small details. In this case it's her facial expressions and the color of her face. Professor Griffiths really helped in explaining the pier glass passage and the concentric circles that appear when shining a candle light and I want to thank him for that. I thought the connection to Van Goghs "Starry Night" was amazing and it really helped me see the image of the concentric circles.
    - Dayanara Saucedo; Period 2 Group 6

  14. First, I would like to thank Professor Griffiths for taking your time and coming to visit us with your amazing students. At first when I read the passage on Mrs. Cadwallader I was a bit confused. As my mentor explain the passage briefly I got multiple meanings of the passage, I understood that this passage had to do with looking at someone closely or to understand people. And the passage there's a quote that says "even with a microscope directed on the water trap we find ourselves making interpretations which turned out to be rather course" so it is like we're trying to find ourselves no matter how tiny it is we try to solve something by little steps. By using the words microscope lens it shows how we view people. I felt like this part of the passage how to relate with Dorothea and Casaubon, how she seeks for a guy/mentorWho will understand her for who she is and not only because of money. I found it interesting when my mentor pointed out how George Eliot used "telescopic" and "microscope" to confuse us the readers but we learn how to use our creativity to solve the problem.
    Now to the passage with the pure glass I noticed how George idiot related this passage a lot to science when she say "serene light of science" . in this passage a candle is used and is candle it's in the pier glass and George and it says "but place now against it a light a candle as a centre of illumination and lo !The scratches Will seem to arrange themselves in a find serious I'll concentric circles around That little sun". I felt like this quote from the passage was the strongest and more understandable because I felt like it was saying that is candle has a light, A light that is causing what is happening and this is why we we picture the scratches because this light is strong
    Perla Ruvalcaba
    Period 1

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  16. I would like to give thanks to professor Griffith and his students for giving us their incredible insight on the Middlemarch passages! My peers, Ms. Barrios and I understood the pier glass passage to be a symbolic representation of humanity’s ego. We established that, the aesthetic, concentric, circles built around the “little sun,” formed from the scratches because the light reflected it that way. In the same way, our own egotistical perspective can alter events and give off the illusion that these events conspire because of us; our perception or “candle light” can make unpleasant events or actions seem pleasant. Professor Griffith and his students further expanded the idea by adding that Elliot’s goal was not to get rid of everyone’s own perspective, but instead, her goal was to get people to understand to see from multiple perspectives. Elliot knew it was impossible to get people to stop seeing things from their perspective, so she instead advocated for a multi dimensional perspective. It was interesting to see how our mentor's ideas gave us a clearer picture and better understanding of the passage.

  17. I would like to thank Professor Griffith and his class for waking up early and taking the time to come to our class and share their understanding with us. I think that this was very helpful because I was able to hear new perserpectives about these two passages. I was surprised to hear what my mentor and peers had to say about the passage in chapter 6, because they all came up with different things than I did. My mentor explained a combination in the passage. Something man made, in this case a mircoscope and nature, a water drop. Professor Griffiths also pointed out how Ms. Cadwallader is like a amoeba and that the audience is actually us( dramatic irony). This allowed me to get a better picture of this chapter and it makes it a bit more interesting.
    -Aileen Hernandez
    Period 1 group1

  18. Thank you Professor Griffith and students for your insights and for assisting with the close reading of the two selected passages. The way Professor Griffith explained the Pier-Glass passage changed my "perspective" in the novel as a whole. He mentioned that one single candle represents one individual's perspective and that the more candles there are the more ambient the lighting becomes and voila, there is one big clear perspective. This can be related to the characters in the novel in the sense that every character has their own distinct plot, which revolves around their own perspective. Therefore, each character is their own single lighting of a candle that along with that represents their ego.
    In regards to the Mrs. Cadwallader passage, I learned that it relates to the Pier-Glass passage because of the whole perspective idea. Either one uses the strong lens or the weak lens. The strong lens being the one that makes "certain" of what is going on and the weaker one being the one that "seems" to make of what is going on. You choose what you wish to see. Also, there is an egotistical idea involved in regards to Mrs. Cadwallader's matchmaking which comes from her "thought and speech vortices." These vortices are shaped by culture and society to only see specific things and options. So we can perhaps say that she sees only her candlelight.
    Period 2, Group 2

  19. Thanks you Mr Griffith and your students for helping us have a deeper understanding of the two passages. What I learned that day was how George Eliot have really deep means in her writing, for example how in the pair glass passage she say, “The scratches are events, and the candle is the egoism of any person now absent.” Each person sheds their own “light” which is their perspective of matter at times it's more critical when it one person's put when there's a lot you “light” you see a bigger picture. In the chapter 6 passage we see again how one's perspective, “ Even with a microscope directed on a water-drop we find ourselves making interpretations which turn out to be rather coarse; for whereas under a weak lens you may seem to see a creature exhibiting an active voracity into which other smaller creatures actively play as if they were so many animated tax-pennies, a stronger lens reveals to you certain tiniest hairlets which make vortices for these victims while the swallower waits passively at his receipt of custom. In this way,” when we have a stronger lens or a closer view at someone the can see their individual attributes but if we were to use a weaker lends we are able to see then for who they are rather than what traits make them up. Which is why I choose this part to write about so that expand and better understand this concept.
    Adriana Caselin

  20. One of my biggest takeaways from doing a close reading during our classroom crossover was that mrs. cadwallader is like a single celled organisms. It is revealed to us that her tendency to be a metiche is passive rather than active. It is essential to her survival such as how amebas eat its victims innately and passively. More importantly this reason makes it slightly more understandable for her to get into people's business.

  21. I want to start off by saying thank you to both Professor Griffiths and his English students for joining us on October 27th, it was privilege to have college students work with us to have a deeper understanding of both passage but in particular the Pier-Glass passage. After Professor Griffiths went over the Pier-Glass passage, my perceptive of the novel itself and of Mrs. Cadwallader since it related to the perceptive change of the Pier-Glass passage. Professor Griffiths explained that each individual contain their own candle/light that when put together many individuals we get a better understanding of a particular person.When all the candles are brought together than the scratches as mentioned in the passage are visible. Also when adding more than one light an ambient light is created and as well as voila. This leads to each and every character having their own single light which represents their ego. This passage was related to science since Professor Griffiths mentioned the connect between ego and how even scientists are distorted by the egoism. Eliot also uses many other science related words throughout this passage and the first passage (Chapter 6), in fact Eliot refers to throughout the entire book. Before having Professor Griffiths and his student come visit our class I had not have seen this different perspective that was presented to us, it was really helpful when trying to analysis character more in depth for example Mrs. Cadwallader.

    - Nancy Hernandez; Period & Group: 2

  22. I want to start off by saying thank you to Professor Girffins and his USC students for the great lecture of the two passages on Mrs.Cadwallader and the pier glass passage.In the passage by Mrs.Cadwallader was saying to me that everyone has an addiction,in the era from long ago was that most women were a stay at home housewife which were their duty to clean.When the women were done cleaning they had plenty of time on their hands and what made up Mrs.Cadwallader's time was to be in everyone's drama and gossip.She was stuck finding more and more information about someone else that she didn't seem to care who she was. This passage relates to the your pier-glass passage because everyone you've met,you seen pass by you,happens for a reason. The scratches on the window and random events but some would be patterns.Think about it, these people that you've met made you see things in different perspectives than seeing things on how you were seeing it. It's like when I was young and I wanted to have a toy but my parents told me that I was to young for it or it was a waste of money, and as I began to grow up that one toy begins to mean nothing to me because the events in my life made me change. The lighted candle in the passage makes a "Centre of illumination", meaning that the ton of scratches on the window, reveals in a whole around the sun seeing things on how you would see it.The your pier-glass is oneselfs story and the individual can choose to change it.This book is a fantasy but people should be facing the reality.Life is a cycle, it happens for a reason right, now go find the real you.
    -Michael Carrillo per.1 group 4

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  24. First of all I want to start off by thanking professor Griffiths and his recent for participating in our class and help is get an eater understanding of the two passages which were the pier glass and the Mrs.cadwallader one.we talked about the Mrs.cadwallader one and how she is the gossip of the town and we connected that to how women didn't have the same opportunities as men marriage being their only choice.Mrs.Cadwallder was practically feeding off of being the gossip of the town for example intervening with Dorothea's and cushions idea of vetting married.

  25. I would like to thank Professor Griffith and the USC students for taking time out of their sleep to come visit us on October 24 and share what they got from the passages. They made the picture way more bigger than what we thought it was. It made us realize that its good to have many people's opinions. Bre explained to us how in Mrs. Cadwallader passage using the weaker lens you are limited to see a certain amount of things but with stronger lens you get to see everything(hairlets). As in for the Pier-Glass , Professor Griffiths opened our minds to not just think about and see it with one single light but to think and see it with many lights to be able to see every scratch and get other perspectives not just one.

  26. I would like to start off by giving thanks to Professor Griffith and his students who took time out of their busy schedules to come and help us with the passages that we went over in class. I thought it was a great experience talking to a college student and really understanding the way she, in particular, saw things and her perspective on the literature we were reading. I also thought it was amazing when both, her and our group, expressed our perspectives and how we looked at each passage because in reference to what Professor Griffith mentioned, it brought multiple candle lights to the mirror which brought out a much more clear concept of what the passages meant. I know I learned a lot from Professor Griffith's thought process and is students' thought process, and I think they also learned to see things differently from our class' thought process. I love this idea of each of us being a single candle light because it shows how our perspective only shows us what we want to see and it reveals the ignorance of what we don't see, which can only be cleared up through the understanding of other perspectives or candle lights.

  27. I would like to thank Professor Griffith and his students for joining our class and helping us expand our thoughts with these two passages. When I first read The Pier Glass passage i wasn’t so sure of what to think. In class we discussed that the “little candle light” was a one’s ego and how we see and arrange events in life in our lives. So all the scratches going everywhere are perfectly centered around the candle light once put up at the pier glass. But the candle light was us and our ego, and the scratches were the events in our lives and how we see them. Some events in life we might see them as a “it was meant to be” moment but in reality it’s just us, and how we want to see/believe things. When my group and one of Professor Griffiths students were discussing this, my perspective on this passage changed because we started discussing that Eliot didn’t want us to see things from one perspective but rather from everyone’s perspective put together. The candle light can represent literature in a case but if we put candle light that is science right next to the literature candle light you’ll see how both have different perspectives. It is always important to see things from multiple perspectives and that is what George Eliot was trying to do in her time. She was mixing science and literature together so that people can see things from both perspectives. She didn’t advocate for people to believe in only science but instead she incorporated the two together so that the people of back then could see what she saw.

  28. Thanks to Professor Griffith I finally was able to clear up that cloudiness of idea intention that I had. I felt that I had understood the story so far but none of it made sense or was able to connect to real life in my perspective. After Professor Griffith explained the concentric circles and how they represent the ego, I was able to understand that the character of the person, the perspective they have is based on the things they have passed and mostly the things that they take for granted which makes up their ego.
    Not only does the ego have a lot to do with the development of a character but it also shapes their perspective and it shows how their perspective, the society's, impacts those of others like Mrs. Cadwallader said, "Thought and speech vortices"
    Jessica Hernandez-Flores
    Period 2
    Group 1

  29. Victoria Garcia-LopezOctober 30, 2016 at 11:04 PM

    Special thanks to Professor Griffith and his class for their time and knowledge. To start off, the two passages were extremely interesting to do a deep analysis on. With the help of the Trojans I was able to have a better understanding of not only science plus literature but as well as the character Mrs.Cadwallder. The pier-glass passage, I found it really interesting when Professor Griffith mentioned at the end of the class, the whole candle and scratches. That if you hold one candle to the pier-glass in a dark room you are able to see one part of the glass, one part of the concentric pattern. If you hold two candles you see two parts of the pattern. If you hold three candles you see three sections but if you hold a thousands of candles the light is ambient. You see the entire glass again. I interpreted it as in the candles belonging to different people. Or the different characters in the novel. As in everyone in Middlemarch has their own candle and when they light it on another character they see only what their candle lights. We see different parts of a picture. And when all parts of the picture are lit we see the character as a whole.

  30. I would like to thank Professor Griffith and his students for waking up earlier and joining our class in order for UA to get a better understanding of these passages. During our class discussion of these passages I wasn't very positive if I knew what exactly was happening in the text but after this experience with the USC students. My mentor was able to add in specific details that was missing from my understanding to fully piece together the passage. In the pier glass passage I understood the meaning of the candle lighting in front of the mirror and the scratches made by events in your lifetime. They explained that the events will ultimately show their true form when a candlelight is put up to it and that the candle light is like the perspective. It's difficult to word properly but once you go through the passage with others and communicate the ideas it's easier to figure out one common outcome from the passage.

    Ashley Avina, Period 1

  31. Thank you to Professor Griffith and his USC students for visiting our class to help us get a better understand of the two passages. It was interesting to get a different perspective of a college student and be let in their thoughts. Our mentor and our group had very interesting conversations about both passages. When analyzing the Pier-Glass, we were able to begin with the pier-glass which is a mirror with different scratches in all directions. Yet the “little sun”, which represents a candle, was brought up to the mirror and the scratches would rearrange themselves in circles around the candle. In my group, we talked about how light reorganizes things. We also talked about how the light represents things that are seen in certain circumstances or events. Relating to Middlemarch, in the passage, there is the use of the word “parable” which we relate to science vs. religion which plays a big part in this novel. It also related back to the concept of Charles Darwin and how he believed in science rather than religion. We also got to close read Mrs. Cadwallader’s passage in which we were able to draw an actual picture based on the passage. I found it interesting how this passage compared weak vs. strong lens. Something that was mentioned in our discussion which I had not thought about was that Science is limited to how we can understand it as well as perception is limited. We related this to Ms. Cadwallader because she makes reality what she wants. The hair lids of the amoeba represents the influence that she has due to the fact she is so high up in society as well as the fact that she has more mobility in her actions because of her social class.

    -Natalie Montenegro, period 1

  32. Thanks to Professor Griffiths and his USC students for sharing their thoughts and analyzing both passages with us. During the seminar, I noticed the different perspective in the passages. One things that stood out to be while Professor Griffiths explained the passages was the candle and the ambient light. The pictures he drew on the board gave me a better description on how the candle and the ambient light worked. When you light a candle, it lights up a certain amount of space, but the ambient lights are different because it lights up the whole room. To make the ambient light with candles you must add all the little candles together to light the whole room. I also noticed the connections between the candle and the scratches because the candle describes the egoism of a person, while the scratches describes the events. The scratches would arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun, which described the universe.
    Evelyn Cifuentes: Per-2/Group-6

  33. Thank you to professor Griffiths and his wonderful students for taking the time to help us navigate our way through some of the detail packed passages in MiddleMarch. Something interesting that I noticed as my mentor and I went over "Microscopic Fictions" was that science was very much invloved in this passage, the comparison made by Eliot between Mrs. Cadwallader's hunger for 'gossip' and an amoeba's need for food helped me understand the importance of science and literature. The use of science to interpret literature genuinely helped me. The idea introduced by prof. Griffiths, that the candle in the pier glass passage could represent our perspectives rather than our egos was intruiging because I had never though of it in that way. The individual candles represent all of the distorted & imperfect perspectives and when put together can form a larger and clearer perspective. Professor Griffiths point that subtracting even a single perspective from the equation could completely destroy the big picture really made it easier to understand the passage because its true, if even Celia a character who we haven't seen a whole lot of in these ending chapters were to be removed from the book everthing would still change because the pointed out differences between herself and Dorothea in the beginning of the book help manifest who Dorothea is. Overall, I really enjoyed working with the USC students and prof. Griffths, they all brought new ideas that helped us understand the messages being conveyed in both passages.
    Period 2

  34. First, I would like to start of with thanking Professor Griffith and his students for joining our class and allowing us to exchange thoughts on our perspectives of each passage. I have to say that this exchange of thoughts really helped me understand the deeper meaning of them, so thank you again. Like my mentor said while we discussed the Pier - Glass passage "by joining perspectives you can get a better understanding of things". Some thing that we discussed in our group while discussing the Pier- Glass passage was how my mentor said that we the scratches arrange depending on where you place the candle and how you may think you are the center, but there are people working around you creating that have to deal with the scratched you throw your egoism on. That all these scratched and where the candle is put is all based on perspective because this is all about your perspective, your life, your story. Therefor, saying how the scratches rearrange based on how you see things.

    -Samantha Suarez, period 2

  35. I want to thank my mentor so much for going in depth with each line in the passages, specifically the pier-glass passage, and a huge thanks for Professor Griffith's generous invitations to visit his class and learn from his students and his own thoughts on George Eliot. I have chosen to do a close reading on the pier-glass passage primarily because of our discussion on the ambient light versus the candle and how egoism distorts your perspective. Much was put into perspective for me when professor Griffith spoke on how one or two candles can create these two perspectives but if you were to get a hundred candles it would be like using ambient lights and can see everything and understand everything not just parts of the pier-glass. And he went on to explain how everyone has distorted perspectives even scientists, which I would have never thought of prior to our conversation, because they are human to observing and understanding things differently. Prior to our visit, I questioned the meaning of the last sentence and Miss Vincy's role, going through the passage again I saw the connection on how we can distort what we see as we only see it around us. Rosamond is very much in her own world I think using those around her to up lift herself into a world she thinks she deserves; her actions to achieve her goal result in events that have impacted those around her and herself. overall, I understood how the events change as the perspective does.
    Question: Is science our candle for Middlemarch?


  36. I would like to give Professor Griffiths a warm thank you for allowing his students to join us on a discussion about Middlemarch. One concept that has stuck to me from the whole book Middlemarch id the idea of perspectives and placing your self on the other side of the mirror/glass. Having USC students from his class gave us the great opportunity to examine quotes from middle march through different "Stronger lens" of a microscope to deeply analyze the true message that Elliot is trying to deliver. It was an interesting an engaging activity of interactive first wth the student then the professor because new ideas were presented in both parts of the session. In my group we contrasted the different marriages and the importance of them and how middle marchers in the town are actively involved in everyones story. Mrs. Cadawallder the woman gossip of middle march is compared to an ameba which i found interesting because the relation is quiet unique. The body of the cell would be Mrs. Cadawallder and the "hairlets" are the external forces that bring her information from the outside world. Gossip is also described as her main source of "food " that she feeds off of, and the sense urges a feeling of disparity almost animal like features of feeding off of other creatures.

    Millie Sanchez
    Period 1/group 4

  37. Hello, professor Griffith I am very thankful for this great opportunity of helping us better understand these passages through your lecture, in which I was very intrigued during class. I understood and agree with you in that the vortices which can be inferred through the text of the stronger lens and the weaker lens show that Mrs. Cadawallder is like a swallower waiting passively. In a weaker lens it can be seen that the swallower and the micro organisms surrounding it are both in activity, however, in a stronger lens it can be seen that in fact the only ones active are the microorganisms being attracted to the vortices by the swallower as the swallower waits passively. This made me spark an analogy that this is the case with predatory animals to prey like animals whenever the predator is hunting its prey. The predator will usually wait passively as the prey is attracted to the predator before the predator feeds off the attracted prey. Likewise, it can be inferred that Mrs. Cadawallder is like the swallower who waits passively after creating vortices formed by her thoughts and speech towards her effected preys in middle march. Mrs. Cadawallder being the predator and waiting to feed for enrichment of what she has caused in middlemarch as her thought and speech vortices create an attraction for the middlemarchers to be succumbed and create an enjoyment as Mrs. Cadawallder delightful feast. This really made sense to me when I though of this analogy. Thanks so Professor Griffith for this opportunity and for helping us better understand these two passages. Thanks.

    Quick question: as you mentioned the individual bias from the perspective of the individual looking through a microscope, can this mean that what we were seeing under the microscope as referred by the narrator is the individual bias from the narrators perpective on Mrs. Cadawallder or middlemarch in general? Or can it be our very own individual bias as the readers seeing Mrs. Cadawallder under the microscope?

    Salvador Villafana
    Period 2, group 2

  38. First I would like to thank Professor Griffith and his 5 students to take time out of their day and be in class with us. We discussed two passages from Middlemarch, Mrs. Cadawallder's passage and the Pier glass passage. I was an amazing experience to meet up with college students and let them analyze the text with us. It was a great feeling when we discussed our thoughts to our mentors and they said that our thinking skills was beyond theirs since they didn't view it the way we did. But it was also great when they told us their view on a certain line, since it expanded our mindset on that certain passage. Our group's mentor, Chase, gave us a new view on the Pier class passage than we originally learned. He mentioned that the candle that is being held up to the "events" wasn't just about self ego, but it can be related to science itself. When the candle, in this case, science, is being held up against the pier glass, you can see everything come together and all of the distortions that most people believe science had was formed into a clearer picture. We also went over Mrs. Cadawallder passage, I found it very interesting how in depth we got into it. I would've never known that on the stronger lens you can "see" how Cadawallderis eating or inhaling what is being given to her, which is gossip.
    Yvette Rodriguez period 2

    1. Your blog is very useful for me,Thanks for your sharing.



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