Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Middlemarch can help.

Middlemarch: Book 5, Chapter 49 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The day after Casaubon’s funeral, Dorothea remains shut up in her room. Sir James tells Mr. Brooke that until Dorothea is feeling better, she is not to know about any “business.” She should spend time with Celia and the baby, and Ladislaw should be sent away immediately. Brooke nervously replies that he can’t do this without giving Ladislaw a reason. Sir James angrily declares that Casaubon has wronged Dorothea, asserting that “there was never a meaner, more ungentlemanly action than this.” Casaubon was clearly jealous of Ladislaw’s relationship with Dorothea, and now it will appear as if Dorothea is to blame for his suspicions.
Though we do not yet know exactly what the “business” Sir James and Mr. Brooke are discussing refers to, it clearly involves something Casaubon has done out of jealousy over Will and Dorothea. Mr. Brooke’s objections to sending Will away are transparently rooted in his own desire to keep Will on for his political campaign, rather than coming from genuine concern for either Dorothea or Will.
Themes
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Community and Class Theme Icon
Progress and Reform Theme Icon
Mr. Brooke insists that sending Ladislaw away won’t prevent malicious rumors and gossip. He also can’t force him to leave the country. Sir James begins desperately scheming ways to get Ladislaw a colonial post. He is filled with hate for Casaubon, but at the same time distrusts Ladislaw. Brooke suggests that sending Ladislaw away might imply that they were actually suspicious of Dorothea. Sir James laments that they failed to stop it when “Dorothea was sacrificed once,” and that as her brother-in-law he is determined it won’t happen again. Brooke advises that a good first step is to bring her to stay at Freshitt Hall immediately.
Sir James has a lot of genuine concern for Dorothea, but this concern still leads him to talk about her in a way that is deeply patronizing, robbing her of any agency of her own. His claim that she “was sacrificed” completely ignores the fact that Dorothea herself chose to marry Casaubon, and in his considerations of what should be done now he doesn’t consider what Dorothea herself wants (and in fact he wants to keep all plans secret from her).
Themes
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Community and Class Theme Icon