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''Middlemarch' and What We Mean When We Say Shame Works'

". . . I recently finished reading Middlemarch for the first time. Shame motivates several of the characters, and it shapes their lives in sharply distinct ways: At least one person really does clean up his act in part due to being shamed, whereas another person becomes much worse than he needed to be and yet another reacts to shame by becoming defiant and a bit superior. Looking at these divergent reactions might illuminate what’s going on when shame 'works'—and why it’s not, in my view, a valid tool of social control."

Read more: Eve Tushnet, State of the Union, The American Conservative