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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County is a delightfully entertaining piece of work. The characters are developed beautifully through fantastic descriptions, amusing actions, and mostly through smooth, flowing, and terrific dialogue. The dialogue is, indeed, the main attraction of this event. Simon Wheeler’s speech is optimistic, and above all, very friendly. Wheeler tells of Smiley’s antics as any great story teller would. Wheeler offers his own observations generously. They are casual and hospitable. Wheeler, speaking of Smiley’s betting habit, interjects that, “Why, it never made no difference to him- he’d bet on anything- the dangdest feller” (113). This observation is helpful and funny. Wheeler also offers a fabulous story to illustrate his point. He tells of Smiley making a bet that a man’s wife will not improve in health contradictory to what the doctors say. The absurdity of such a bet leaves the reader laughing out loud, in spite of such a morbid joke. Even the frog is personified and molded carefully into the most individual and unique frog ever to hop along. The frog is described by Wheeler as modest, straightforward, and gifted. “Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog…” (114). Daniel’s aptitude for intelligent thought is evidenced by his ability to catch flies on command. Again, a most absurd assertion but, nonetheless, very comedic. Oddly, Daniel is compared to a cat. Wheeler observes that, “He’d [Smiley] give him a little pinch behind, and the next minute you’d see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut- see him turn one summerset, or maybe a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat- footed and all right, like a cat” (114). One could argue that Daniel is the main character of the story. The actual narrator of the story is an old friend of Smiley. The friend’s brief relationship with Wheeler is also rather interesting. Twain does not say directly that the man is not particularly fond of Wheeler, but alludes to that through the narrator’s dialogue. Smiley’s old friend sits down with Wheeler and describes the act as such: “Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with his chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous narrative which follows this paragraph” (113). Through the man’s choice of words the reader quickly realizes that this is not a pleasurable experience to him.

The Theme of Marriage in Middlemarch

The Theme of Marriage in Middlemarch

One of the central themes that runs through Middlemarch is that of marriage. Indeed, it has been argued that Middlemarch can be construed as a treatise in favor of divorce. I do not think that this is the case, although there are a number of obviously unsuitable marriages. If it had been Elliot’s intention to write about such a controversial subject, I believe she would not have resorted to veiling it in a novel. She illustrates the different stages of relationships that her characters undergo, from courtship through to marriage:

A fellow mortal with whose nature you are acquainted with solely through the brief entrances and exits of a few imaginative weeks called courtship, may, when seen in the continuity of married companionship, be disclosed as something better or worse than what you have preconceived, but will certainly not appear altogether the same(193)

She not only includes the new couples (Fred and Mary, Celia and Chettam), but also the older ones (the Garths and the Cadwalladers and the Bulstrodes), as well as widowhood (Dorothea).

The marriage that would at seem most in need of a divorce, that between Dorothea and Casaubon, would be, ironically, the one that would last the longest if divorce had been available. Dorothea would not, indeed could not divorce Casaubon because of her honesty and the strength of her idealism. Despite the fact that Casaubon is clearly unsuitable, she still goes ahead with the marriage. It can be said that Dorothea represents the antithesis of Casaubon, where he his cold and severe, she is warm and friendly. Indeed, they are portrayed in clearly different ways: Dorothea represents light and life, while Casaubon is darkness and death. …

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…similar circumstances (An example of this is the comparison between the reactions of Rosamond and of Mrs Bulstrode when they learn of their husbands’ disgrace). This desire to analyse and compare probably came from her studies of both natural sciences and psychology. I don’t believe that Elliot’s position is either for or against marriage – she is, in my view, equally for or against certain characters. The marriages that are portrayed in Middlemarch are of such different and varied composition that no general rule can be drawn from them.

Works Cited and Consulted

Carroll, David (editor). George Eliot Middlemarch. Oxford

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