Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

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Middlemarch: Book 4, Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Featherstone is buried in May. He has left specific instructions for an extravagant, impressive funeral. Featherstone always loved to spend his money in a way that reminded others of his superiority and power. At Featherstone’s request, Mr. Cadwallader performs the service. Mrs. Cadwallader has persuaded Sir James and Celia to drive her to Lowick. Against Lydgate’s advice, Casaubon has returned to working with the same intensity as always.
There is something darkly fitting about Featherstone’s lavish funeral considering that everyone there doesn’t actually care about him but only wants his money. While an extravagant funeral is theoretically supposed to signify that someone was popular and intensely loved, in this case it simply confirms that Featherstone was rich.
Themes
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Money and Greed Theme Icon
Casaubon, Dorothea, and their guests watch through the window as the funeral train enters the church. Celia looks away, saying it makes her too sad to watch, and commenting that Dorothea probably likes it because “she is fond of melancholy things and ugly people.” Dorothea says she is merely interested in her neighbors. The group discusses the funeral-goers, and Dorothea exclaims in horror at the idea that Featherstone was completely unloved when he died. Mrs. Cadwallader notices a stranger among the funeral crowd, a man with “a sort of frog-face.”
Although Celia and Dorothea are close, Celia’s rather amusing comment shows that she fundamentally doesn’t understand her sister. Her belief that Dorothea loves “melancholy things and ugly people” likely rests on Dorothea’s rejection of light-hearted, aesthetic pursuits that are seen as typically feminine. Of course, this does not mean Dorothea likes things because they are sad or ugly. 
Themes
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Money and Greed Theme Icon
Everyone strains to see the stranger, and in that moment Celia exclaims that she didn’t know Ladislaw was coming. Mr. Brooke casually explains that Ladislaw is staying with him. Casaubon concludes that Dorothea must have asked Mr. Brooke to invite Ladislaw to stay at Tipton. Dorothea knows Casaubon hates Ladislaw, although she doesn’t know why. Brooke indicates that he thinks Ladislaw would prove himself to be a talented speechwriter, and says he will go to find him now.
Here we begin to see the consequences of Mr. Brooke’s secretive behavior. Again, Brooke did not mean to cause any harm through secretly inviting Will—in fact, as his comments here show, he invited him because he thinks Will can help his political career. However, this self-centered short-sightedness could have bad consequences.
Themes
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Community and Class Theme Icon
Progress and Reform Theme Icon