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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 4

Summary

The sisters are discussing Sir James. Celia suggests he is trying hard to please Dorothea. The latter insists that he look upon her as "a future sister." Celia shatters her illusion by conveying the maidsí gossip that Chettam is to marry "the elder Miss Brooke." Dorothea is annoyed and disturbed. Seeing her chance, Celia doesnít spare her: "you always see what nobody else sees; it is impossible to satisfy you; yet you never see what is quite plain." Dorothea is in tears and decides to take no further interest in the laborersí cottages.

Her uncle returns from an official trip. He has visited Casaubon on his way home. He relays a proposal of marriage from Casaubon to her. He is rather hesitant about it and is astonished when she promptly declares her acceptance. Brooke is a man of liberal but vague ideas. He abides by his usual non-interference but conscientiously warns her of the drawbacks of the age difference of 27 years; of Casaubonís indifferent health, and his poor sight, damaged by too much study. Trying to be fair, he further declares that Casaubon has a handsome property may end up a bishop, and may even suit Dorotheaís tastes better than Chettam. He stunned when he promptly refuses to even consider Chettam. Eventually, he hands over Casaubonís letter to her.


Notes

An important aspect of George Eliotís technique in this novel is the building-up of a character by viewing him or her through the eyes of several others. Here Celia, whose views have come up earlier, confronts her sister with her critical approach, yet this has no effect whatever on Dorotheaís decision to plunge into marriage with Casaubon. Her staunchness flusters her uncle, who is a kind but lax guardian. Her momentous decision is thus made.

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