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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 69

Summary

A solemn Caleb calls in Bulstrode at he bank. He tells him he has picked up a seriously ill person called Raffles in his gig and left him at Stone Court. He advises Bulstrode to arrange immediate medical care for Raffles. Before leaving, Caleb asks Bulstrode to relieve him if all work related to Stone Court. He is very determined about this. Since Raffles has obviously revealed a lot, Bulstrode attempts to patch up his reputation. Caleb declares firmly that it is not his job to judge any one or to discuss anotherís personal affairs. But he insists that he cannot accept profit from any corrupt business or action. Calebís simplicity and lack of smugness impresses and hurts Bulstrode deeply. His insistence on not doing wrong "even if I thought God winked at it" exposes all Bulstrodeís sham piety.

Bulstrode then goes to Stone Court where he finds Raffles delirious and speechless. He tells Lydgate the man is mentally unstable, a relative of Rigg and slightly connected with himself. He is dismayed on hearing that Lydgate does not think the illness is fatal. Bulstrode undertakes to nurse Raffles with the help of his servants, that night. He is instructed strictly not to give him any alcohol. Lydgate then leaves, pondering over Bulstrodeís "kindness" to Raffles and harshness towards himself. He arrives home to find Rosamond prostrate, with his creditorís employees in the house. She proposes to go to her parentís house for some time. Lydgate responds bitterly. Rosamond coldly offers to stay if it pleases him. They are further alienated from each other.


Notes

In this section of "Two Temptations," Caleb does not succumb, although his work is in no way linked with Bulstrodeís past or his association with Raffles. The additional temptation is the security of Mary and Fred, whom he was planning to settle at Stone Court. But Caleb knows no compromise for himself and is adamant. How different individuals respond to Bulstrodeís offers and how Bulstrode himself responds when tempted is the subject matter of this of part of the novel. George Eliot does not depict villains but human beings with their different personalities and values, and their tendency to drift into wrongdoing or pull themselves out of it, in some cases.

Calebís statement "I hold it a crime to expose a manís sin. Unless Iím clear it must be done to save the innocent" is also intriguing and creates suspense. Bulstrode, even when his double standards are exposed, falls back on an old habit. He tries to involve God in his personal schemes: on finding that the discreet Caleb alone knows about his past. He feels "that providence intended his rescue from worse consequences" and decides that, if freed by Rafflesí death, "his life should be more consecrated than it had ever been before." It is the hollowness of this kind of selfish and false "piety," which George Eliot seeks to expose.

Finally Lydgate's involvement in the case is purely professional and innocent.

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