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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 35

Summary

The mourners at Featherstoneís funeral felt on seeing each other, that "so many forms feeding on the same store of fodder were eminently superfluous." Both Mary and Fred were objects of suspicion to the "Christian Carniora" as the author calls them. The stranger Rigg, obviously an heir, arouses even more curiosity, being a stranger to the town.

All the relatives try to pump Trumpwell, the witness to the will. Fred, though tense, funds the whole situation very amusing.

The pompous lawyer reads the first will, then the second. The first bequeaths ten thousand pounds to Fred, along with many small legacies to others. All the land, the house and remaining money was left to Joshua Rigg, who is to take the name of Featherstone.

The second will revokes all the small bequests of the first. It leaves the land, stock and household goods within Lowick Parish to Rigg and all the remaining property for almshouses to be built for old men. Some small amounts are left to individuals. This will shatter all present, except Rigg. The Featherstone siblings walk off in a rage. The Vincys are dazed and sad Mary tries to comfort Fred, but canít reduce his self-pity. The novelist hints that more sinister events will follow. "No soul was prophetic enough to have any foreboding as to what might appear on the trail of Joshua Rigg."


Notes

This incident is chiefly important for the drastic effect it has on Fredís fortunes. It also reveals to Mary what events she had caused by refusing to help Featherstone destroy the later will. Mary herself remains unrepentant and true to her ethical values. She is unconcerned about a tiny amount left to her. Her main feeling is one of concern for Fredís disappointment and hope that he will improve his way of life.

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