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Book 4: Three Love Problems

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message 1: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (klzeepsbcglobalnet) | 43 comments Mod
Just as we think we've settled into our cast of characters and determined who's the most important to follow, two more important figures are introduced: Rigg and Raffles. Note that where Eliot uses the term "father-in-law" toward the end of the chapter, she means "stepfather."

As I reread this novel with you, I continue to be struck anew by how insightful Eliot's commentary on human psychology is. Anyone want to share some passages that may have struck them as sharp and true commentary on human nature?

And what are the "Three Love Problems"? Certainly we can see the three love relationships or potential relationships at play: Lydgate and Rosamond, Fred and Mary, Dorothea and Casaubon with Will inserting himself. But would anyone care to name the actual "problems"?

No secondary sources this week, but I'll have some more to come!


message 2: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Tougas | 9 comments The first love problem I see is with Lydgate and Rosamond’s engagement. Mr. Vincy doesn’t feel he can afford a dowery and wants them to end their relationship as a result. It also appears that Lydgate himself is running a bit short on cash. That may also strain their marriage especially since Rosamond is used to the finer things in life. Will Ladislaw also has a problem since “the simple truth was that nothing then invited him so strongly as Dorothea’s presence”. Meanwhile Casaubon has banned him from the house. Dorothea, although she enjoys Will’s company, remains loving towards her husband even though his paranoia causes him to treat her badly. I like how the book ends with Mr. and Mrs. Casaubon walking hand in hand down the corridor at the end of the day ... a literary “fade to black”.


message 3: by Carla (new)

Carla | 5 comments While I have been trying to pay attention to the quotes that start each chapter, I have not always been able to understand them or understand how they foreshadow or relate to the story. Chapter XXXIV's got me right away and set the stage for all of Book IV ("...For power finds its place in lack of power; Advance is cession and the driven ship May run aground because the helmsman's thought Lacked force to balance opposites." How's that to sum up relational politics and a man's (or women's) place/role in the dynamic? Also, during this era, who typically held the 'public power' and who held the 'private power' in relationships and where was it muddy? [worth considering Mary Garth's self-acknowledged role in Fred's outcome from the framework of this quote; she held power and he ended up with nothing; that is the problem in their love connection; could another problem be the Vicar?]

With Dorothea and Casaubon, the problem seems to be that Casaubon is primarily affected by how far he misses the mark with his scholarship and that translates and augments his insecurities about his wife (and about Will who looks like he is in Middlemarch to stay). Casaubon's evolving feelings about Dorothea (and his reactions to those feelings) are one example of Eliot's commentary on human psychology. That Dorothea reads her husband's feelings and responds (or withholds reaction) with that in mind is another.

Rosamond and Lydgate are another story - their problem, in the eyes of her father, is Lydgate's lack of money in spite of his education and social standing. While Mr. Vincy is loathe to rock the boat with a man "better educated and more highly bred than himself" and afraid of crossing this daughter, he speaks his mind, Rosamond holds firm, and Lydgate counts on Rosamond's love to convince her of his ability to build a life for them. [love this quote..."Lydgate relied much on the psychological difference between what for the sake of variety I will call goose and gander:..."]

I also like Eliot's perspective on human psychology revealed in this quote "In watching effects, if only an electric battery, it is often necessary to change our place and examine a particular mixture or group at some distance from the point where the movement we are interested in was set up." There is so much going on in this story and every vantage point provides a new dimension and adds to the complexity of a very old piece of writing that keeps this reader interested.


message 4: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (klzeepsbcglobalnet) | 43 comments Mod
Great insights from both of you--thanks!
And per Carla's mention of the epigraphs for the chapters, they're opaque enough when they're in English! For those who don't have annotated copies, here are translations for Book 4:

Chapter XXXV:
"No, I can't imagine a more delightful pleasure
Than seeing a grieving crowd of heirs,
Looking dumfounded, with long faces,
Listening to a lengthy will which turns them pale with shock,
As, cocking a snook at them, it leaves them empty-handed.
To see their profound sorrow so plainly,
I would come back on purpose, I believe, from the next world."
--Regnard

Chapter XXXVIII:
"It is just like the judgement of men on human actions; sooner or later it becomes effective." --Guizot


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