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BOOK VIII: SUNSET and SUNRISE
Dorothea’s enthusiasm is held in check by Farebrother’s melancholy doubts and later by Brooke and Chettam. Farebrother knows from experience that "character is not cut in marble" and is vulnerable to temptation. Chettam disapproves of "hasty" interference and advises her to wait for more evidence. Celia comfortably believes that "men know best about everything, except what women know better"!
The old restrictions of family opinion and diffidence about her role hold Dorothea back. Yet, she is never seriously in doubt about Lydgate’s honesty. This episode gives George Eliot to relate her two principal characters to each other. It also gives her an opportunity to contrast Rosamond and Dorothea yet again. In the original serialized publication of the book, the Victorian read participated vociferously in the events of the novel. At such points in the story, they were wistful about how Lydgate and Dorothea would have been ideally matched! But it is a picture of friendship between a man and woman as equals that Eliot wishes to show us.