A Season in Middlemarch, Weeks VIII to X

Book IV: Three Love Problems (Chapters XXXVIII to XLII) and Book V: The Dead Hand

I was not particularly enthralled with these sections. I didn’t make any annotations in the second part of Book IV. Book V was slightly better. But honestly, Eliot just goes on for far too long about the small town politics in Middlemarch. I do not care. That’s not what I picked up the book for, and I find it hard to believe anyone else does either. I’m interested in the stories of the main female characters. That’s what I want to read about.

But now her judgement, instead of being controlled by duteous devotion, was made active by the embittering discovery that in her past union there had lurked the hidden alienation of secrecy and suspicion. The living, suffering man was no longer before her to awaken her pity: there remained only the retrospect of painful subjection to a husband whose thoughts had been lower than she had believed, whose exorbitant claims for himself had even blinded his scrupulous care for his own character, and made him defeat his own pride by shocking men of ordinary honour.

Chapter L

Dorothea finally sees Casaubon for what he is. Unfortunately, it takes him dying for her to realize. Casaubon becomes jealous of Ladislaw, believing there is something between him and Dorothea. So he writes into his will that Dorothea will lose all her inheritance if she marries Ladislaw after Casaubon dies. Her family is furious because it makes her look bad; meanwhile, Dorothea had never thought about Ladislaw like that until this moment when she realizes she loves him. Honestly, I don’t see why. He’s maybe a slight step up from Fred in terms of decentness.

I will tell you that I have too strong a feeling for Fred to give him up for any one else. I should never be quite happy if I thought he was unhappy for the loss of me. It has taken such deep root in me–my gratitude to him for always loving me best, and minding so much if I hurt myself, from the time when we were very little. I cannot imagine any new feeling coming to make that weaker. I should like better than anything to see him worthy of every one’s respect. But please tell him I will not promise to marry him till then . . .

Chapter LII

Mary Garth, my love! There wasn’t nearly enough of her in this portion of the book. But scene between her and Mr. Farebrother, a vicar who is in love with her, is excellent. She admits to her feelings for Fred but sticks to her decision not to marry him unless he becomes a more worthy person. I’m glad that she did, though I still don’t get what she sees in Fred. Mr. Farebrother would be a far better choice, or Mr. Lydgate, who I don’t think is especially compatible with Rosamund.

You talk as if young women were tied up to be chosen, like poultry at market . . .

Chapter LII

I actually became incredibly fond of Mr. Farebrother in this section. Honestly, him and Lydgate are the only decent men in the book. And Lydgate is a bit of an idiot in regards to Rosamund. Mr. Farebrother, on the other hand, is smart and respectful of women. His mother and sister are pushing for him to marry Mary Garth, but even though he loves her, he knows she wants to marry Fred. He even agrees to talk to Mary on Fred’s behalf to see if there’s any chance she would agree to marry him! What an absolute sweetheart. I hope things turn out well for him even though he won’t be with Mary. He deserves all the good things.

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