Middlemarch: Book Five

Serial Reading Guide for Middlemarch: Book Five (chs. 43 – 53)
Page numbers are indicated for the Norton Critical Edition (2000).

1. You can now freely read anything in our Norton edition, pages 519 to 532, and from 536 to 538. Of particular interest may be the chapter from Eliot’s 1859 novel, Adam Bede (at 523-26), which has been singled out by writers and critics as an essential meditation on the art of fiction.

2. Dorothea and Rosamond: Note the storylines and themes beginning to converge.

3. Note Lydgate’s reformist “challenges” to the established way of handling medical care in Middlemarch in chapter 45 and his (very ironic) line, “It isn’t possible to square one’s conduct to silly conclusions which nobody can foresee” (282).

4. Speaking of Lydgate, what can we make of the following? (283, ch. 45)

There was something very fine in Lydgate’s look just then, and any one might have been encouraged to bet on his achievement. In his dark eyes and on his mouth and brow there was that placidity which comes from the fulness of contemplative thought—the mind not searching, but beholding, and the glance seeming to be filled with what is behind it.

Presently Rosamond left the piano and seated herself on a chair close to the sofa and opposite her husband’s face.

5. Consider what may be at the heart of Brooke’s shortcomings regarding reform. Will says, “If you go in for the principle of Reform, you must be prepared to take what the situation offers,” because “if everybody pulled for his own bit against everybody else, the whole question would go to tatters” (285, ch. 46). Brooke, characteristically, says, “yes, but . . .” (“up to a certain point, but not too far” [206, ch. 34] etc.).

6. Note the echo of the prelude at the end of chapter 47 and the neat shift from Will’s to Dorothea’s point of view as chapter 48 begins. Also, note the epigraph to chapter 48.

7. Dorothea’s choice—will she accept Casaubon’s request?

8. Celia, Dorothea, perspective, and “convulsive change,” all in play at 304-305, (ch. 50).

9. Oh Rev. Farebrother, why are you so wonderful? (ch 52)

10. “For the egoism which enters into our theories does not affect their sincerity; rather, the more our egoism is satisfied, the more robust is our belief” (323, ch. 53).

Next – Middlemarch: Book Six  (chs. 54 – 62) >

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© Steven J. Venturino 2018