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Monday, April 1, 2013

I am indebted to the rain.

Middlemarch, Book IV - Three Love Problems by George Eliot (Marian Evans)

Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
-Will Ladislaw comes to visit - Mr. C is Not Pleased.
-Featherstone's will is read: new illegitimate son Joshua Rigg benefits; Fred left with nothing. :(
-Rosamond and Lydgate want to marry; parents not on board.
-Will visits Dodo; wants to stay in Middlemarch and run newspaper for her uncle Mr. Brooke; Dodo approves; Mr. C does not; Mr. C tells Will not to take the job AND by Golly not to visit the house anymore.
-Will takes the job anyway, much to Casaubon's displeasure. (suck it, Mr. C!)
-Will tells Dodo about Casaubon's ban. They're sad they won't get to see each other much now.
-Mr. Brooke has a comical disagreement with a drunk tenant over a poached rabbit. (poach as in illegal hunting, not cooking style)
-Garths get money when Caleb (Mr. Garth) is asked to be agent of local properties for Mr. Brooke (as above, Mr. Brooke not great at managing his tenants); Mary doesn't have to leave to teach in order to support the family(hooray!); Caleb considers asking Fred to help him manage the properties.
-John Raffles is introduced, nasty father-in-law of Joshua Rigg (Featherstone) and Joshua sends him packing when Raffles demands a small cut of Rigg's new fortune.
-Casaubon finds out from Lydgate that he has a weak heart; Casaubon's a jerk about it; Dodo is nice anyway, but starts to hate him.
Spoiler Over: Continue Here

I'll tell you the bits I liked, and Marian Evans can tell me if she liked making those bits... (yes, of course she's dead, but maybe I'm psychic, who knows! ;)

Will, on Mr. C's unpleasant decision to take a wife so much younger than he:
"And Casaubon had done a wrong to Dorothea in marrying her. A man was bound to know himself better than that and if he chose to grow grey, crunching bones in a cavern, he had no business to be luring a girl into his companionship." I love the image of wrinkly Casaubon lurking in a cavern beckoning a finger to Dorothea.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Some of the exchanges between Dodo and Mr. C on Will and whether he should stay/whether they should support him at all financially:
- When Dodo asks if she can't give some of her money to Will: "Dorothea, my love, this is not the first occasion, but it were well that it should be the last, on which you have assumed a judgment on subjects beyond your scope...What I now wish you to understand is that I accept no revision, still less dictation, within that range of affairs which I have deliberated upon as distinctly and properly mine." ICK. Gender norms and suppression of women and their opinions. ICK.

- When Dodo tries to go comfort Mr. C after he finds out he might kick it soon:"But she hesitated, fearing to offend him by obtruding herself, for her ardour, continually repulsed, served with her intense memory to heighten her dread, as thwarted energy subsides into a shudder; and she wandered slowly round the nearer clumps of trees until she saw him advancing."

Dorothea, to Will:
"I think we have no right to come forward and urge wider changes for good until we have tried to alter the evils which lie under our own hands." Yes. Well put, Dodo!

Dorothea to Will, on what she considers her religion, and how even though she may not be able to do the work she wants to, just by wanting to and hoping for it, she's helping a little:
"That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the Divine power against evil - widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower."

A lovely scene when the vicar visits the happy Garths:
"Mr. Farebrother left the house soon after, and seeing Mary in the orchard with Letty, went to say good-bye to her.  They made a pretty picture in the western light, which brought out the brightness of the apples on the old scant-leaved boughs - Mary in her lavender gingham and black ribbons holding a basket, while Letty in her well-worn nankin picked up the fallen apples."

Passages I greatly enjoyed:
-"The dreamlike association of something alien and ill-understood with the deepest secrets of her experience seemed to mirror that sense of loneliness which was due to the very ardour of Dorothea's nature." poor Dodo! I hope things look up for her soon!

-"Poor Mrs. Cranch was bulky, and breathing asthmatically, had the additional motive for making her remarks unexceptionable and giving them a general bearing, that even her whispers were loud and liable to sudden bursts like those of a deranged barrel-organ." Hagh.

-Lydgate and Rosamond, on soon being married: "Ideal happiness (of the kind known in the Arabian Nights, in which you are invited to step from the labour and discord of the street into a paradise where everything is given to you and nothing claimed) seemed to be an affair of a few weeks' waiting, more or less."

-"Any private hours in her day were usually spent in her blue-green boudoir, and she had come to be very fond of its pallid quaintness.  Nothing had been outwardly altered there, but while the summer had gradually advanced over the western fields beyond the avenue of elms, the bare room had gathered within it those memories of an inward life which fill the air as with a cloud of good or bad angles, the invisible yet active forms of our spiritual triumphs or our spiritual falls."

-Smitten Will, on Dodo appearing unexpectedly: "Dorothea's entrance was the freshness of morning."I should like to think that for someone my entrance will be 'the freshness of morning'. How lovely!

-"The open bow-window let in the serene glory of the afternoon lying in the avenue, where the lime-trees cast long shadows." I love imagining these lime trees. I want to stroll along with Dodo and pick some off the branches.

-"Was it her fault that she had believed in him - had believed in her worthiness? And what, exactly, was he? She was able enough to estimate him - she who waited on his glances with trembling and shut her best soul in prison, paying it only hidden visits, that she might be petty enough to please him.  In such a crisis as this, some women begin to hate." A taste, perhaps, of what is to come for Dorothea...

Easter is over, March is gone (sorry, Middlemarch - I'll have to finish you in April!), and school is coming close to its end for moi.  Onwards to memos, finals, and thesis drafts, and the next installment in  Halfwaystride!

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