1. Is this your first encounter with George Eliot? How are your finding it? Did you have any preconceptions about the Eliot or the book before you started?
This is actually my second read of Middlemarch! I read and loved it back in 2012, though I actually don't remember it all that well. Since then I've read The Lifted Veil, which was so weird I still don't know what to make of it, and earlier this year I read The Mill on the Floss which was great although highly depressing.
2. How do you feel about Dorothea?
See, one of the few things I remember about this book from my first time round is really liking/having sympathy for Dorothea. This time around, I'm... not entirely sure. She is very pious and has some weird beliefs (wanting her husband to be a father figure, ick) but I still can't help but root for her a bit. She's a weirdo, and I like weirdo characters. Besides, her motivations for wanting the sort of marriage she wants comes from her intellectual longings, and I understand her from that point of view, because really, what other options are available to her?
3. Who is your favourite character so far and why?
I basically already answered this above, so... yeah, it's Dorothea. She's kind of quirky and I have vague memories of loving her last time.
4. The place of women is mentioned a lot in the first few chapters. Discuss.
Like Bex says, it's kind of early to tell. I know more opportunities/education for women was a big preoccupation of Eliot's and this comes up a lot in her writing. The thing about George Eliot's life that always sticks out to me was that she was crazy educated and her father basically let her learn anything she wanted- but this was only because she was considered plain and ugly and would probably never get married. Seriously. Of course, she ended up in an almost-marriage of 20 years, so, shows what they knew.
Anyway. I know this comes up some more, especially in the Dorothea bits, so we'll wait and see...
Bonus note: kind of loving how the names Lovegood and Bulstrode both came up this week. I love finding names from Harry Potter in literature; it's like following a secret trail J K Rowling has left :)