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Lydgate tells Casaubon that stress and over-exertion cause his illness. He recommends moderation in work and some relaxation. Casaubon is miserable at the idea of rest or hobbies, of which he has none. He ignores Brookeís eager suggestions that he take up fishing, carpentry, or card games or shuttlecock.
Lydgate meets Dorothea privately, and on her request for frankness, tells her strain and emotional upheavals are to be avoided. He fears a heart ailment, which if neglected, could result in sudden death, but with care, could be controlled. Dorothea is shattered, but she could still serve her husband. She puts aside formality and pleads with Lydgate as a kindred spirit, to advise her how to be useful. He promises his support and leaves.
Dorothea composes herself and goes through Willís letters. She asks her uncle to reply, and to advise putting off his visit in view of Casaubonís illness Brooke, as usual, carried away by his imagination, ends up inviting Will to stay at Tipton. With both nieces married, he feels he will enjoy his company and spins all sorts of plans for social and political activity, in which Will can assist him. Dorothea is unaware of his reply.
George Eliot draws the dispersed threads of the plot together in this chapter. Thus Will, Dorothea, Lydgate, Brooke, are all drawn together convincingly for future action. Brooke though a minor character in the plot, represents a new type of provincial politician, who seeks to bridge the earlier rigid class divisions. In this, he will find Will useful. This gives Will (earlier a dilettante) the chance to reform himself and become a fit future partner for Dorothea. It also enables George Eliot to bring in several aspects of the rapidly changing rural society into her novel. She has already done this with medical progress of her time. These are some of the points which have made critics charge her with being "too intellectual," but which give the novel much more complexity than just being three love-stories strung together.