A Season in Middlemarch, Week II

Book I: Miss Brooke (Chapters VII to XII)

I continue to get even further behind. I must admit, Middlemarch isn’t exactly a book I turn to when I want something relaxing. And I’ve wanted to use the little amount of time I have for reading to relax. But I’m done with Book I now. Only seven more to go! I’m going to try finding the 1994 BBC miniseries, pictured above. The miniseries of Dickens’ Bleak House helped me get through the novel, and I think it will be a similar situation here.

And she had not reached that point of renunciation at which she would have been satisfied with having a wise husband; she wished, poor child, to be wise herself.

Chapter VI

I continue to have a difficult time liking Dorothea. Her self-deprecation is especially insufferable. She and the reader meet Will Lanislaw, Mr. Casaubon’s young cousin, in this section. He ends up insulted by her self-deprecation in regards to art, thinking that she was casting judgement on his work rather than being sincere. I could hardly blame the poor man, and he already assumed she would be unpleasant since she’s marrying Casaubon. But I do know that he ends up in love with her, so it will be interesting to see the transition.

“You mean that I am very impatient, Celia.”

“Yes; when people don’t do and say just what you like.” Celia had become less afraid of “saying things” to Dorothea since this engagement: cleverness seemed to her more pitiable than ever.

Chapter IX

I was happy to see Celia start calling out some of Dorothea’s behavior. I’m quite fond of Celia actually, and I hope we see more of her throughout the novel. It does seem that Eliot has a theme going regarding two sisters. When the Brookes go to look at Casaubon’s house, they note the paintings of his mother and her elder sister on the wall. Dorothea comments that they look nothing alike, and Casaubon says their lots in life were different as well. I imagine this may reflect on Dorothea and Celia’s lives and relationships as well.

“There is correct English; that is not slang.”

“I beg your pardon; correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the strongest slang of all is the slang of poets.”

Chapter XI

How interesting that Eliot would in 1871 hit on a topic that is rather a hot one in 2021 English Composition programs. This is a conversation between Rosamund Vincy and her brother Fred, who we are introduced to at the end of this section. They are a breath of fresh air compared with Dorothea. They banter back and forth, and Rosamund is determined to find a husband from outside their small community. There is also some question of Fred’s inheritance from his unpleasant uncle, Mr. Featherstone. I’m looking forward to reading more about them.

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