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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 7

Summary

Mr. Casaubon, having spent most of his life alone, now looks forward to his marriage and "the graces of female companionship and support. But while Dorothea is whole hearted in her affection, he cannot find the same intensity in himself. He concludes, "the poets had much exaggerated the force of masculine passion."

Dorothea now eagerly asks to be taught Greek, so that she may help him by reading aloud from the scriptures, as "Miltonís daughters did to their father." Casaubon is skeptical, as he knows of the revolt by the blind poetís daughters. Yet, overcome by her zest, he agrees to teach her Greek for an hour each day. Dorothea seizes the opportunity for two reasons; she longs to help him; she seeks "these provinces of masculine knowledge seemed... a standing ground from which all truth could be seen more truly."

Brooke disapproves, convinced that "deep studies...are too taxing for a woman." He would prefer his niece to "play some good old English tune" on the piano. Dorothea, not interested in the "small tinkling" which such feminine talents were confined to is happy when Casaubon supports her. Brooke consoles himself with the thought that Dorotheaís extreme enthusiasm will be contained by Casaubonís sobriety.


Notes

This chapter continues with the leisurely unfolding of the relationship between Dorothea and Casaubon. Her need, which is to find an outlet for her intensity, intellect and capacity for love, is obviously misplaced in its object Casaubon. The imagery continues to reveal the glaring differences between the two, who are apparently in harmony. As in desert regions, a mere sprinkling of drops of water is sufficient for baptism, so "Mr. Casaubon found that sprinkling was the utmost approach to a plunge which his stream would afford him." Here the drying up of Casaubonís emotional springs reinforces the earlier impression of the dryness of his approach to research.

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