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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 18

Summary

Lydgate was indifferent to the voting on the question of chaplaincy at the hospital. Having met Farebrother and been drawn to him, he faces a dilemma. His personal preference is for Farebrother, who has a humane touch and who has been serving as chaplain all along without pay. Now that the post is an earned one, it seems unfair to deprive him. On the other hand, Bulstrode is Lydgate’s main backer in the town, where he anticipates serious oppositions to his plans for medical reform. Lydgate, therefore, attends the meeting in a confused state.

There is heated discussion much of personal, among the members who have earlier assembled. Lydgate comes in last and finds them equally divided. Ultimately, his casting vote is decided by his smarting ego. Mr. Wrench, an old style medical practitioner, declares that it is well known that Lydgate will vote will Bulstrode. Incensed, Lydgate does just that. So Mr. Tyke becomes the hospital chaplain. Farebrother meanwhile, continues to meet Lydgate with the same friendliness as before. But his skepticism and tolerant attitude don’t impress Lydgate favorably.


Notes

The changing equations of power, the rising influence of the manufacturing and professional classes in public affair are employed in this chapter. The hospital committee comprises of all the local medical and legal men, the banker, and Mr. Brooke is the only representative of the old gentry. These men who were earlier considered as close to servants have become the prime movers in the town.

At the personal level, Lydgate's inability to reconcile his personal judgment and professional needs is exposed. After the election, he does not quite admit his weakness to himself. This emphasizes his egoism and blindness. It also underlines is increasing dependence on the shadowy influence of Bulstrode, which he justifies as necessary to take on the united opposition of the other medical men.

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