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Middlemarch
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Archived 2012 Group Reads > Middlemarch 05: Chapters 21-25

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message 1: by Loretta (new) - added it

Loretta (lorettalucia) Please discuss this section below (And I've edited the schedule in the main thread to reflect our two week break.)


Juliette Week 5 and week 6 is muddled in my head and I can't remember which chapters are which and don't want to write any spoilers. I will either have to wait 'till others start posting or go find a cliffs notes type of summary so I know where to stop.
Also, can we assume one of these "Week 5" was meant to be a "Week 6"?


Becky I saved this right after finishing Week 5 to complete my thoughts.

All right, so much happened in these five chapters that I’m going to try and arrange my thoughts by character.

Causabon- “I had a duty towards him… the young man is not otherwise an object of interest to me.” Does anyone else feel that this quote probably contains the majority of Causabon’s emotion towards mankind? Even Dorothea? I had originally thought that he was a dry sort of sot, but now I just think he is actually a person of poor character. He is a terribly insecure and vile little man. He flinches at the German because he knows that his own work is surpassed by them, but instead of seeking help from a German translator, etc, he proceeds on with his work in ignorance, without trying to improve himself or his literature. He is automatically jealous of Ladislaw because he spent time alone with Dorothea, who has been nothing but devoted. Then, instead of being much humored by a beautiful portrait of his young wife, he buys the portrait of himself as Thomas Aquinas. Considering that Aquinas was often sexist and sequestered in study this overly appropriate.

Dorothea- This whole situation reminds me of the old shanty-song “Maids When Your Young Never Wed an Old Man.” Sex was never talked about, it was recognized as an obligation of the wife, a duty of nature, but it wasn’t discussed in Eliot’s time or beforehand. Yet, I have to wonder, if sometimes Eliot is hinting at Dorothea’s dissatisfaction with fulfilling ALL of her wifely duties. She wants to be of use, she is desperate for any sort of affection, and I have to wonder if this is partially because she is disgusted with this task, or because it’s not happening. I realize it’s only been six weeks, but producing children was considered such an important duty. Plus there are the opening lines of Chapter 23, it just makes me wonder what all Eliot was trying to hint at, or not. It’s the sort of thing that I wish I could ask the author.

Ladislaw-
"The best piety is to enjoy—when you can. You are doing the most then to save the earth's character as an agreeable planet. And enjoyment radiates. It is of no use to try and take care of all the world; that is being taken care of when you feel delight—in art or in anything else. Would you turn all the youth of the world into a tragic chorus, wailing and moralizing over misery? I suspect that you have some false belief in the virtues of misery, and want to make your life a martyrdom.""

Best quote in the whole story so far, as it absolutely sums up Dodo. It goes along when Kitty said that Dodo “loves giving up things.” You do not need to suffer to be pious, martyrdom is not necessary for sanctity, but Dodo doesn’t seem to understand that. I bet if she was around today she’d be the “one-upper” in conversations

Fred- At the characters initial introduction I enjoyed his whimsy and the way he talk to Rosamund, but I was still unsympathetic about his characters because I absolutely cannot stand people with no self-control who are just lay-abouts. Drives me nuts. I have moved from being unsympathetic to open distaste for Fred after what happened with the Garth’s. What a vile human, to go to the poorest friend to try and get money, because you are too embarrassed to go to your better friends. Then to rob a child of his education money! UGH! If he was really repentant, he would have gone to his father and proposed a deal wherein he would pass his examines if Mr. Vincy would cover his debts to the Garths. He tells Mary he is willing to do anything, but it isn’t true. He will now have a very long time of it trying to work his way back into my good graces ;)

I also have to admit, it’s at this point that the book has really grabbed my attention.


Becky ^ apologize for the length, but week 5 really overwhelmed me!


message 5: by Juliette (last edited Feb 20, 2012 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Juliette Okay, yes, good thing I looked because there's a spoiler I can't wait to talk about that happens in our week 6.

So now we know what it is that Casaubon is all upset about. He's fully aware that his studies could be a big waste of time because Ladislaw told him that the Italians have already made the very conclusions that he is investigating and if he would just learn Italian he would know this. It's like someone trying to invent a portable phone without knowing a cell phone already exists. What is it that's keeping him on this road? Is it ego? That's my vote, Casaubon is just so full of himself he refuses to acknowledge the fact that he's wasted his precious time.

And poor, poor Fred. At least he's man enough to own up to his bad decisions and face the people he screwed.

I used this site to help me remember what happened in what chapter...
http://www.shmoop.com/middlemarch/cha...

If I was reading a real book I would have flipped the pages and browsed, but that's so hard to do on the Kindle.


Edit: German, not Italian


Juliette Becky wrote: "^ apologize for the length, but week 5 really overwhelmed me!"

I think that was well put.


message 7: by Loretta (new) - added it

Loretta (lorettalucia) Juliette wrote: "Week 5 and week 6 is muddled in my head and I can't remember which chapters are which and don't want to write any spoilers. I will either have to wait 'till others start posting or go find a cliff..."

Sorry, nope, accidental double post. I edited the schedule and will remove the other thread.


Sera Juliette wrote: "Okay, yes, good thing I looked because there's a spoiler I can't wait to talk about that happens in our week 6.

So now we know what it is that Casaubon is all upset about. He's fully aware that h..."


Oh, great link! Thank you.

I think that Fred is an excellent example of what happens when parents indulge their children.


Becky I cannot stand Fred. Grr. He had better redeem hismelf.


Juliette Becky wrote: "I cannot stand Fred. Grr. He had better redeem hismelf."

Awww, see, I agree with Sera on the comment about indulged children. But I can't help like Fred a little bit. The biggest reason is because he's in love with Mary, and in my mind who a person loves says a lot about them. To me Mary is sweet, and has a good head on her shoulders. Secondly, again my opinion, a real coward would just let the Garth's flounder unawares or send a messenger instead of going to them and facing them himself, hopefully it's the first sign of him showing some responsibility.


Becky He could have gone to his richer friends first, who wouldn't have hurt for the money, but he was too embarassed. I guess I'm just most angry that he got the nicest family in Middlemarch into this predicament to begin with. And poor Mary! Although, looking at Rosamond and the rest of the Vincy's I suppose there was no helping the way Fred turned out.

I do still think he is the funniest character in the story though :)


Juliette It was my understanding that Fred did go to his richer friends first and that he had gone through all of them passing on the debt to one friend after another only to have the Garths last, which is why he didn't pass the debt on again, because he had exhausted all other outlets. Kinda like paying off credit cards with credit cards until you don't have anymore credit cards left. Fred only used the Garths as a last resort to buy himself more time.

And don't get me wrong, he should most certainly own up to what he did and pay for his mistakes and hopefully learn from them, I'm just not ready to give up on him yet.


message 13: by Sera (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sera I don't dislike Fred, but he does come off like a goofball. I also think that part of the reason that he told the Garths was because he didn't want his father to find out that he didn't. If this reason is accurate, then I don't think that Fred was motivated by the right reasons.


Everyman | 885 comments Becky wrote: " "The best piety is to enjoy—when you can. You are doing the most then to save the earth's character as an agreeable planet. And enjoyment radiates. It is of no use to try and take care of all the world; that is being taken care of when you feel delight—in art or in anything else. Would you turn all the youth of the world into a tragic chorus, wailing and moralizing over misery? I suspect that you have some false belief in the virtues of misery, and want to make your life a martyrdom.""


Best quote in the whole story so far, as it absolutely sums up Dodo. It goes along when Kitty said that Dodo “loves giving up things.” You do not need to suffer to be pious, martyrdom is not necessary for sanctity, but Dodo doesn’t seem to understand that."


Hmmm. It's not, as I see her, that Dorothea likes being miserable, or wants to. What I think she wants to be is useful, noble, to live a life of service, to put others ahead of herself. If Casaubon were to use her in some productive way, she would be happy and fulfilled whether or not, as you mention later, her sexual life was satisfying. But she has no role, no opportunity to to serve, and it is this, I think, that makes her miserable, not that being miserable makes her in some way happy.

Yes, Celia does say she likes to give things up, but I think that's partly self-justification for her accepting all the jewels, which her sense of fairness thinks she shouldn't, and because she doesn't understand a mind focused on disciplining itself to play a serious role in the world. It is not, as I see Dorothea, giving things up for the sake of giving things up, for giving things up because they do not fit with the lifestyle she yearns to live.


Everyman | 885 comments Becky wrote: "^ apologize for the length, but week 5 really overwhelmed me!"

With quality like that, there's nothing to apologize for!


Everyman | 885 comments Becky wrote: "I cannot stand Fred. Grr. He had better redeem hismelf."

Aww, he just reminds me of a big puppy dog with floppy ears who gets in trouble and just makes more and more trouble trying to get out of it. Yes, it's awful that he brought that the Garths, but really, he didn't mean to. His intentions were good, but he just didn't have the discipline.

But he's young, and of course boys mature more slowly than girls, so isn't there hope for him yet? His heart is in the right place, isn't it?


Becky I think his heart WILL be in the right place, I just don't know if it is yet. :)


Andrea Becky, I loved your character breakdowns for week 5.

I feel so bad for Dodo, she has no idea of the mess that she has gotten into. She must feel like she has no clue who she married since we didn't see this side of Casaubon until Rome. I keep wondering how long this is going to last before she entrusts someone with the situation. No woman is going to cry to herself every day and not eventually tell someone her issues.

I'm so bummed that Fred is turning out to be a bit of a deadbeat. I really liked him so I was disappointed that he didn't have the money for his friend. I did feel a little bad that Mary was also down on him, but I understand since she is so close and obviously protective of her family.

I read on a little further so I don't want to post an accidental spoiler so I'm going to cut off my comments here.


Everyman | 885 comments Andrea wrote: "No woman is going to cry to herself every day and not eventually tell someone her issues. "

No modern woman, certainly. But a middle-upper class woman in 1830? She really has nobody to talk to has she? She can hardly confide in Celia, who will just say "I told you so," not in those words, of course, but that will be her attitude. She has no mother, no aunt, no close married friend to confide in. Who an she talk to about this?


message 20: by Sera (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sera Everyman wrote: "Andrea wrote: "No woman is going to cry to herself every day and not eventually tell someone her issues. "

No modern woman, certainly. But a middle-upper class woman in 1830? She really has nobo..."


No, she has no women friends, which further isolates her and keeps her suffering alone with her problems.


Bookworm Adventure Girl (bookwormadventuregirl) Andrea wrote: "Becky, I loved your character breakdowns for week 5.

I feel so bad for Dodo, she has no idea of the mess that she has gotten into. She must feel like she has no clue who she married since we di..."


I felt bad for her too and really started disliking Casaubon during this section. I don't think he realizes what he is doing to Dodo. And unfortunately for her, I think she is going to have to settle. It's one of those mentalities of she made her bed and now she has to lie in it. Especially since she has no support system. It's sad, but I must say I think we saw this coming...


Everyman | 885 comments Jolene wrote: "I felt bad for her too and really started disliking Casaubon during this section. I don't think he realizes what he is doing to Dodo. "

I agree. I don't think he has a clue. He is so self-centered and self-absorbed that he simply has no place in his mind to think about what might make another person happy.


Andrea In retrospect I think you guys are right, Dodo really didn't have anyone to talk to.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments Everyman wrote: "Becky wrote: "I cannot stand Fred. Grr. He had better redeem hismelf."

Aww, he just reminds me of a big puppy dog with floppy ears who gets in trouble and just makes more and more trouble trying t..."


I would agree with this, if I haden't seen evidence to the contrary in my own life experience. I think he really does want to do well and doesn't have a desire to hurt others, but he is so self-focused that he truly doesn't have a concept of how his actions will effect others. He does feel remorseful, which is a good sign, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out in the following chapters, but ultimately he is still having someone else cover for him, and I'm not sure that he will end up learning the right lesson from the experience. I have hope for him, because he still has opportunity to change things, but he'll have to start manning up and becoming responsible very soon. And quit gambling!


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