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Middlemarch Book 5

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I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm disappointed that our first two threads plus the background information is gone. I wish I had thought to save it. I do have some general notes but obviously our discussions are gone.

I'm going to keep this and the next post short for two reasons. One is that I want to get the threads up so we can discuss. The other is I'm only a few chapters in on Book 5. It's been a few years since I read it so I don't remember what happened when and I have to look it up. I feel a bit like I don't know quite what I'm talking about so I'd rather just post a little and let everyone who already finished these sections discuss them. 

There's a good deal of blah, blah, blah politics that at first glance seems boring but actually gives us a good look at the character of some people. Will as it turns out doesn't have less than honorable intentions. Though he's obviously in love with Dorothea he won't try to come between her and her lawful husband. Part of that is he fears leading her down such a path would change who she essentially is, and he loves who she is. He's still not accepted by the people of Middlemarch because he's an outsider and because Casaubon doesn't like him. Apparently those are good enough reasons but to top it off he has (gasp!) Polish blood!

Lydgate is another outsider but he's not accepted because of how he's trying to change things. He comes to town with his newfangled ideas and criticizes the doctors who have been there for years. Whether or not he's right isn't the point. He's seen as a troublemaker and they believe he's in Bulstrode's pocket. He's as much of a user as some of the other characters. He's willing to use his connection to Bulstrode to get what he wants for the hospital. There seems to be a lot of ends justifying the means. Rosamond meanwhile, is getting frustrated with him. Marriage to him isn't going to be the escape from her life that she thought it would be.

The big event in this section though, is Casaubon's death and the codicil to his will. Near the end he seems to get more tender towards Dorothea but we learn that it's just more of his controlling behavior. He attempts to get a promise out of her but before she can answer him, he dies. Everyone wants to keep the details of the codicil a secret from Dorothea but Celia tells her. Whenever Celia and Dorothea are together, which isn't often, we see how different the two sisters. 

Now that Farebrother is going to get Lowick parish he feels he can begin to court Mary, but then Fred returns from having taken his degree. Poor Farebrother is his confidant and is even asked to speak to Mary about her feelings for Fred. She loves him and will marry him if he finds a stable profession.

Finally, Bulstrode's past seems to have caught up with him. 

Do you think Lydgate's arrogance is going to bring more problems for him? 
The codicil gives people the idea that there's actually something between Will and Dorothea. Do you think Casaubon intended for it to do that? 
Do you think Fred is capable of settling down into a profession that would allow him to marry?
How are Dorothea's feelings towards Will influenced by the codicil?
Feel free to bring up anything I left out. Too much has happened in this book for me to have touched on all of it.



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The influence of inheritance--or lack thereof--certainly comes to play in Book 5.

Casaubon's motives were selfish but I am not sure that it was his intention to create rumors concerning Dorothea and Will or if he was more focused on creating an insurance policy guaranteeing that his work would be finished by his wife.  He certainly had a narcissistic view of his own self importance. But did he intend to deprive his wife of happiness? One can't help but feel that some revelation is being foreshadowed. (While it is never mentioned, I wonder if that "Polish blood" implies that Will is further corrupted by Catholic or Jewish blood.)

Fred, Fred, Fred.  I have so little patience with this guy.  Mary might be better off with Mr. Farebrother--even if he comes with a pack of women in tow. 

And then there is Mr. Raffles!  What nefarious schemes follow?

Lydgate strikes me as naive in some ways.  Yes, he is a good medical man but his initial insistence on buying furniture, silverplate, etc. on credit to please Rosamond is perhaps not unusual given our own culture where easy credit leads to bad financial decisions.  That relationship is one that has me scratching my head.  Initially we saw Lydgate as a man more focused on research than sociability.  It strikes me that he may have been better off with a wife who could help him advance his social position, i.e. a wife who would move the local widows to donate to the new hospital. Is there any depth to Rosamond?



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