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An analysis of the moral development of George Eliot's characters in Middlemarch according to Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moralization

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2003
Çetinkaya, Göksev
This study analyzes the moral development of George Eliot's characters in her novel Middlemarch according to Lawrence Kohlberg's theory called "The Cognitive-Developmental Theory of Moralization". Eliot's moral view is characterized by man's relation with other men, not man's relation with God. As long as the individuals treat others with sympathy and understanding, they can develop morally. Eliot's aim is to contribute to the creation of a happier society by presenting the harms of egoism. According to Kohlberg's theory, individuals can develop their role taking abilities parallel to their cognitive developments. This development is displayed by three levels and at the heighest level an individual can go beyond the expectations of society with principles of justice and respect for basic human rights and dignity. However, although the characters in Eliot's novel are sometimes in conflict with the society, they tend to find solutions to their problems within the social structure they live in because Eliot contends that the harmony of society is more important than the personal satisfaction and happiness of individuals for the welfare and happiness of humanity as a whole.