Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

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Middlemarch: Book 6, Chapter 55 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator comments that youth may be an optimistic time, but it is also the point in life when disappointments are felt most strongly, because they are new experiences. Although Dorothea feels miserable after Will’s departure, she does not yet realize that she is in love with him. She goes to stay a night at Freshitt on Celia’s request, and Mrs. Cadwallader is invited to dinner. It is hot, and Celia requests that Dorothea take off her widow’s cap, which Dorothea does reluctantly. Mrs. Cadwallader starts talking about Dorothea remarrying, and James is once again horrified.
Another problem with suppressing your feelings is that it alienates you from yourself, to the point that sometimes it can be hard to know what you really want. This is certainly true of Dorothea, who has spent a long time in denial—first by trying to be the perfect, loyal wife to Casaubon, and now by refusing to admit that she could possibly be interested in marrying Will.
Themes
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Ambition and Disappointment Theme Icon
Dorothea says that Mrs. Cadwallader is free to have fun speculating, but that she has no intention of marrying again. Instead, she hopes to make “a little colony” on a large area of land. Workers would live there, and Dorothea dreams of being friends with them all. She has been discussing the plan with Caleb Garth.
Dorothea’s fantasies are well-intentioned, but it is hard not to wonder if empathy for the poor is really what motivates them. What she really seems to want is a way to be in control of something. 
Themes
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Ambition and Disappointment Theme Icon
Community and Class Theme Icon
Progress and Reform Theme Icon