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Tertius Lydgate, a newcomer to Middlemarch is young attractive, dedicated to his work, and of "good family." He has one disadvantage - he is relatively poor. This, coupled with his sincere determination to complete his pioneering medical research, made him quite unwilling to consider marriage. Yet, the beautiful Rosamond Vincy fascinates him. He finds her delightfully feminine, and her company soothing, but is wary of any deeper interest.
Rosamond is accomplished and ambitious. She was the flower of Mrs. Lemonís school" where she has been taught all the requirements of the accomplished female." She has acquired the tastes and mannerisms of a "lady," including, the diction, "even to extras, such as the getting in and out of a carriage," as the author points out satirically. Back home, Rosamond is as restless as Dorothea. However, her restlessness has one source- the desire to ascend from the trading classes into the gentry.
The author takes us to a scene over the breakfast table at the Vincy house. Rosamond and her mother, having eaten earlier, are talking about Fred, her brother. It is two hours after the family has breakfasted, and Fred has not yet comedown from his bedroom. Rosamond criticizes this and his course taste in food. Mrs. Vincy, an indulgent mother, reproaches her. Fred enters and has a teasing agreement with his sister. She constantly finds fault with her family about their lack of refinement. The mother inquires about the new doctor, and Rosamondís interest so caught. Fred, however, brushes him off as a poor second cousin of the "rich Lydgates" and "rather a prig." Brother and sister argue amicably about riding together to visit their uncle Featherstone. They decide to go the next day.
Four stories comprise the core of Middlemarch around which the scenes of provincial society are woven. One is the story of Lydgate and Rosamond Vincy and the other that of Fred Vincy and Mary Garth. The Vincy family is at the center two of the four stories. In this Chapter, the readers are shown the background against which the young Vincys have been raised. It shows the proud over-indulgence of the simple mother towards good looking, "refined" children. It reveals also Rosamond's hunger to belong to a higher stratum to which her beauty may raise her.
Fred, though lazy and complacent, is shown to be more warm and spontaneous than his sister is. Their respective love interests, Mary, and Lydgate are also mentioned.