Spoiler Over: Continue Here
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Saturday, March 30, 2013
The troublesome ones in a family are usually either the wits or the idiots.
Middlemarch, Book III - Waiting for Death by George Eliot (Marian Evans)
Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
Our story resumes with Fred Vincy finding himself in debt (again) and unable to pay (again). This time, he has borrowed a rather sizable sum from Mr. Garth, Mary's father (remember - Fred has the hots for Mary). Fred hatches a harebrained scheme to trade his horse for a less-expensive one, but the new horse promptly lames itself (apparently some animals were harmed in the making of this book) and Fred has to confess to the Garths that he can't pay them back. The lovely Garths are astounded, and are forced to use the money they've been saving for 4 years (to put a son in school) on their daily expenses and beg their eldest, Mary, for her savings as well. Fred feels terrible, and then falls ill. Lydgate nurses him back to health (and Rosamond, Fred's sister, seizes the opportunity to flirt with Lydgate). Meanwhile, when Dorothea and Casaubon return from their disastrous honeymoon in Rome, we find out that Dodo's sister Celia has gotten engaged to Dodo's earlier suitor, Sir James Chettam. Dodo and Casaubon have a fight over a request for a visit from Will Ladislaw, and Casaubon has some sort of fit. Lydgate comes to the rescue again and Casaubon recovers, but Lydgate tells Dodo on the sly that Casaubon has a weak heart, and if he doesn't cut back on his Strenous Studies, he may die rather quickly. Dodo is horrified (because for some unknown reason she cares about sallow Mr. C). Meanwhile, Mrs. Bulstrode yells at Lydgate for leading her daughter on (because she heard through the grapevine Rosamond and Lydgate were flirting InaPprOpriately in Public) and when Lydgate goes to chat with Rosamond about it, they end up getting engaged (even though Lydgate had NO intention of getting engaged). Fat and unpleasant Mr. Featherstone's health goes downhill and all of his family and the Vincys are speculating about his will. He calls Mary up to his room in the wee hours and frantically begs her to burn one of the two wills he's created and to take all the money in his cash tin, but she resists him and after letting him sleep off his fit, realizes that he has, in fact, kicked it.
On the Garth family's house
- "We get the fonder of our houses if they have a physiognomy of their own, as our friends have. Fred liked the Garth house, knowing it by heart even to the attic, which smelt deliciously of apples and quinces, and until today he had never come to it without pleasant expectations." reminds me of the Light's house - although I'm pretty sure their attic doesn't smell like apples. ;)
Mrs. Garth, on instructing her children while tending to the needs of the house and family
-"She thought it good for them to see that she could make an excellent lather while she corrected their blunders 'without looking', that a woman with her sleeves tucked up above her elbows might know all about the subjunctive mood or the torrid zone, that in short, she might possess 'education' and other good things ending in '-tion', and worthy to be pronounced emphatically, without being a useless doll.
Mrs. Garth, to her youngest son:"That apple-peel is to be eaten by the pigs, Ben; if you eat it, I must give them your piece of pasty."
Mrs. Garth, to her daughter: "How rude you look, pushing and frowning as if you wanted to conquer with your elbows! Cincinnatus, I am sure, would have been sorry to see his daughter behave so." tee hee hee. this reminded me of my French host mom yelling at her son, Vianney, to keep his hands out of his lap at the kitchen table. "Qu-est ce que tu fais là? Les mains sur la table, s'il te plaît!"
On a town-wide game of telephone leading to false conclusions about Mr. Lydgate's origins:
"Mrs. Taft, who was always counting stitches and gathered her information in misleading fragments caught between the rows of her knitting, had got it into her head that Mr. Lydgate was a natural son of Bulstrode's, a fact which seemed to justify her suspicions of evangelical laymen.
On Mr. Casaubon's unenthusiastic soul:
"To know intense joy without a strong bodily frame, one must have an enthusiastic soul. Mr. Casaubon had never had a strong bodily frame, and his soul was sensitive without being enthusiastic: it was too languid to thrill out of self-consciousness into passionate delight; it went on fluttering in the swampy ground where it was hatched, thinking of its wings and never flying."
Mr. Casaubon's response to Mr. Lydate's suggestion that he take up some hobbies like fishing, toy-making, or wood-working:
"'In short, you recommend me to anticipate the arrival of my second childhood', said poor Mr. Casaubon with some bitterness. 'These things', he added, looking at Lydgate, 'would be to me such relaxation as tow-picking is to prisoners in a house of correction.'" Hagh.
On glowing from the March wind:
"He asked for Mrs. Casaubon, but being told that she was out walking, he was going away when Dorothea and Celia appeared, both glowing from their struggle with the March wind." I went for a nice run this morning and I feel SURE that when I returned I was positively Glowing from my struggle with the March wind. :0)
Passages I found particularly pleasant:
- "There was always a little storm over his extravagance if he had to disclose a debt, and Fred disliked bad weather within doors."
- "That he should ever fall into a thoroughly unpleasant position - wear trousers shrunk with washing, eat cold mutton, have to walk for want of a horse, or to "duck under" in any sort of way - was an absurdity irreconcilable with those cheerful intuitions implanted in him by nature." the Horror! to wear trousers shrunk with washing and Eat COLD Mutton! I can barely imagine.
-"To superficial observers his chin had too vanishing an aspect, looking as if it were being gradually reabsorbed. And it did indeed cause him some difficulty about the fit of his satin stocks, for which chins were at that time useful." heheheeheheheheh.
-Mr. Garth, on not hastily jumping into an engagement: "That's the long and short of it, Mary. Young folks may get fond of each other before they know what life is, and they may think it all holiday if they can only get together; but it soon turns into working day, my dear."
-"Mr. and Mrs. Casaubon, returning from their wedding journey, arrived at Lowick Manor in the middle of January. A light snow was falling as they descended at the door, and in the morning, when Dorothea passed from her dressing-room into the blue-green boudoir that we know of, she saw the long avenue of limes lifting their trunks from a white earth and spreading white branches against the dun and motionless sky."
- on Dodo's return to the blue-green boudoir she once admired: "Her blooming, full-pulsed youth stood there in a moral imprisonment which made itself one with the chill, colourless, narrowed landscape, with the shrunken furniture, the never-read books, and the ghostly stag in a pale, fantastic world that seemed to be vanishing from the daylight."
-"The world would have a new dreariness for her, as a wilderness that a magician's spells had turned for a little while into a garden."
My lovely mother is doing a read-along for this one on her e-reader and she's Beating me! Granted, she's not training for a half-marathon, finishing her Master's thesis, or looking for a full-time job. But still! So onwards I plunge, into Book IV of this wondrous tome, Centerprocession!