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The author describes an England in which political uncertainty is the dominant trend. King George IV has died; the Conservatives (Tories) are passing Liberal laws; while some Tories are giving Liberals electoral support! It is a time o change in society. These currents have not yet touched the common Middlemarchers, but change is creeping in there too. Of the two main newspapers, The Pioneer was abandoned by loyal readers because of its tolerance of the Catholics. While the Trumpet had become "feeble in its blowing" Local citizens find that Mr. Brooke has bought the Pioneer. Will has become the editor and is said to be "equal to anything in the London papers."
Brooke delights in Willís achievements before Casaubon who has always disliked him. The dislike had been mutual, but has worsened since the advent of Dorothea. Brooke insists on bringing Will to visit Casaubon, and the latterís friendship with Dorothea grows. On Willís side at least, there is much more than friendship, but he is satisfied with adoring her silently. One day, he meets her when Casaubon is away. They talk about his past, and his grandmotherís separation from her family. Dorothea is interested in his life, so different from her own. Will, however, wants to explain to her that "Casaubon had never done more than pay a debt towards him." Will is happy on hearing her gentle comments about her husband, to think, "She was traveling into the remoteness of pure pity and loyalty towards her husband." He tells her about the offer of editorship.
On Casaubonís return Dorothea tells him about Brookeís job offer to Will. Casaubon is furious but hides it. Later, he writes Will a letter saying that Will would damage his own standingís accepting such a post. However, if he does accept he is not welcome at Lowick Manor. He does not tell his wife about the letter. Meanwhile, Dorothea has been brooding over Willís grandmotherís loss of her inheritance. She approaches her husband with her usual directness, suggesting a change in his will in favor of Will. Casaubon snubs her angrily. After this he is lonelier than ever before, having no one to confide his troubles to, and being alienated from his wife. Soon after, Will replies politely but firmly refusing to obey Casaubon, and implying that he will accept Brookeís offer. This worsens the situation still further. Casaubon is left brooding and frustrated. Though not in doubt of Dorotheaís faithfulness, he is very suspicious of Willís intentions towards her.
This section of the books shows us the "three love problems" at three different stages. Fred and Mary are not yet acknowledged lovers. Lydgate and Rosamond are still in the blissful state before reality dawns; and Dorothea long past that stage, is suffering frustration at every turn. Casaubon is in his own private hell but unable to break out of it.
George Eliot reveals the unfolding relationship between Dorothea and Will, well meaning on both sides. However, misery to come is foreshadowed by the jealous husbandís silent brooding.
Will is generally considered unconvincing and a weak point in the novel. However, here the novelist tries to give him depth by revealing his mixed motives to the reader. This chapter also shows a change in his life style, from youthful dilettante to a more mature reformist editor.