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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 9

Summary

To Mr. Brookeís satisfaction, Casaubon draws up a generous marriage settlement for Dorothea. He then drives with her family to his estate, Lowick Manor for her inspection of it. Casaubon has initially held only the parsonage on the estate, being the second son. On his elder brotherís death, he has got the rest of the large estate. Likewise, he has a large fortune from his motherís family, particularly as her sister had been cast off after her "unsuitable" marriage.

The greenstone house, its carelessly tended gardens, gloomy yew-trees and "air of autumnal decline", depresses Celia. An obvious parallel to Casaubon himself, the gloomy estate has no such negative effect on Dorotheaís puritanical tastes. She is grateful for his offer to make any alterations she likes but declines the offer. Basking in the halo of "lady of the manor," decorating and showing off her home, are not pleasures, which interest her. They examine portraits of Casaubonís mother, who looks like him; and his aunt, who has a delicate and unusual face. This second portrait looks "pretty" to Celia, and merely "peculiar" to Dorothea.

Dorothea meets the curate, Mr. Casaubonís assistant, who assures her the villagers of Lowick are well off. The cottages are well constructed, the people are well fed and clothed and even have savings put aside. This immediately disappoints Dorothea, who hoped to be a reforming influence in her husbandís parish. This is promptly followed by shame at her own selfishness.

They walk around the grounds and see a young man sketching a tree. This is Will Ladislaw, Casaubonís young cousin, and grandson of the pretty lady in the portrait. He accepts the introduction to the Brooke family rather ungraciously. Brooke takes a fancy to him and gives him a long and confused speech on art. Casaubon later explains that he is financing Willís education, and that he has preferred Heiddberg University to any of the English ones. Dorothea is impressed by Casaubonís generosity. They all discuss his future career - Casaubon with disapproval and Brooke with sympathy. Dorothea tries to be tolerant of Willís apparent "idleness." The visit ends.


Notes

The novel moves at a leisurely pace through the characterization of Dorothea and Casaubon, and the way others see them. Dorothea is shown to have a genuine interest in religion and study. She is far removed from the typical ambitions young woman who would want to marry a man of fashion and property and lead a leisured life. Her desire to lead an intense and committed life blinds her to the sterility of Casaubonís mind. This prepares the reader for her future disillusionment in the marriage. Celia is clearly observant, shrewd and conventional in outlook.

This chapter also reveals Casaubonís genuine good qualities - his sense of obligation to family and tenants, his courtesy and desire to ensure Dorotheaís happiness in her future home. Yet he too is blind to the gulf between them and lacks self- awareness. This foreshadows the disaster inherent in their marriage.

The new character, Will Ladislaw is introduced here and will play an important role as the future love interest in Dorothea's life. As of now, he only acts as a contrast to Casaubon. Mr. Brookeís interest in him also anticipates their future collaboration.

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