Following the death of her husband, Dorothea dutifully tries to repress a deep wish to meet Will Ladislaw. George Eliot conveys beautifully the moment that her longing bursts the dam of her reasoning and restraint, using the simile of a suppressed sob.

‘… perhaps she was wrong to wish for a meeting that others might find many good reasons against. Still ‘I do wish it’ came at the end of those wise reflections as naturally as a sob after holding the breath.’

 

Source: George Eliot, Middlemarch (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 576

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