The qualities of medical professionalism have been questioned in the last few years. George Eliot’s 19th century novel Middlemarch illustrates some of the truths that should underlie the physician-patient relationship, and depicts prophetically some of the developments that were to occur in reality in the medicine of the 20th and 21st century. Her insight into the problems facing a medical researcher and the fictional conflicts between vocation and marriage are real issues of medical professionalism even today.
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Competing interests: None.
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