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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 62

Summary

Having found out about the will, Ladislaw decides he must meet Dorothea once more and depart. Earlier he had hoped he could return and claim her after establishing himself. Now he feels that is impossible and he must say a final goodbye. He goes to her house to find she has gone out, then goes to Tipton to collects some sketches. Dorothea is at Freshitt, where Sir James has asked Mrs. Cadwallader to pass on to Dorothea the gossip, linking Will with Rosamond Lydgate. However, Dorothea angrily rejects the news as slander and leaves for Tipton on her uncle’s errand. They meet in the library.

Will furiously rejects any suggestion of his marrying her for money. Dorothea is unclear whether this applies only to the money or the hypothetical marriage as well. She protects that she had always understood him and his motives justly. He thinks this a cold reply, with no hint of her feelings. But he says he has given up hope of the thing he most wanted and is going away. Again, she fears he may smear his "relationship" with Rosamond. She asks him to remember her, to which he replies that he is in danger of forgetting everything else! He leaves but his last outburst gives Dorothea great comfort and wipes away her earlier doubt.


Notes

The long drawn out troubles in Dorothea’s romance with Will may seem totally irrelevant in today’s world, but they were very real in the Victorian period and earlier. In the small circle of the gentry, with its rigid class distinctions, acceptance from one’s peers was important. This was more so, in a provincial town such as Middlemarch. In a moral set up where any second marriage would arouse comment, one with an outcast would be open to boycott. Hence, even a rebel like Will has to be scrupulous about his reputation as a gentleman. This is why Bulstrode, though a wealthy banker is obsessed with the fear of losing his good name.

In addition, Dorothea and Will both being idealists, they are far more conscious of purity of motive.

Throughout, one sees that Dorothea is spontaneous and blunt. She is eager to stand up for justice, though it might inspire gossip! Even in her talk with Will, she is direct and open. Not for her the coy silences and graceful gestures of Rosamond.

Thus Book VI, implying a direct juxtaposition of Dorothea and Rosamond, concludes here.

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