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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Chapter 84

Summary

The House of Lords throw out the controversial Reform Bill. A group consisting of the Cadwalladers and the Chettams is discussing this subject. Into their midst, comes, a nervous Brooke to break the "bad news" of Dorothea’s second marriage. The company receives with general disgust. Sir James in particular is white with anger. Cadwallader advises to accept, saying it is Dorothea’s choice if she wishes to be poor, as his wife was when she married him. Finally, Brooke offers to cut Dorothea’s future children off from inheriting his land. As it was a cherished wish of Sir James to have the land for his son, he is ashamed at the connection, and subsides unhappily. Celia rides over to Lowick to try and persuade Dorothea not to go ahead with the marriage. Failing, she accepts it tearfully and affectionately.


Notes

The family’s opposition has long been foreseen, along with their eventual acceptance. In a sense the plot has come full circle, as the novel begins with their opposition to Dorothea’s marriage with Casaubon. In both cases, her will prevails. The author acutely observes the mixed motives of Sir James Chettam-his former feelings for Dorothea, now sublimated into placing her on a pedestal; his disapproval of the marriage as cause for a local scandal against the family; and his sub-conscious interest in acquiring the Tipton property for his son. Yet he remains a "gentleman" and controls his baser urges.

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