Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

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Middlemarch: Book 6, Chapter 57 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fred goes to the Garths’ house. They are outside celebrating the brief return of the family’s eldest son, Christy, who is studying and is deeply passionate about education. Christy disapproves of Fred. Fred says that he is stopping en route to Lowick Parsonage to see Mary, and some of the Garth children beg to come too. However, Mrs. Garth says they must let Fred go alone. She tells the children to show Christy the rabbits, and they all run off together.
This passage is another reminder that the Garths are poor but honorable, unlike the wealthy and shallow Vincys. Christy Garth is a foil to Fred: not only is he working hard for his degree but he is also passionate about education. Fred approached his education more as a chore to get over with.  
Themes
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Ambition and Disappointment Theme Icon
Community and Class Theme Icon
Alone with Mrs. Garth, Fred comments that she must think badly of him. Mrs. Garth admits that she was “surprised” by Mary’s interest in Fred and tells Fred it was wrong and thoughtless of him to convey his message to Mary via Mr. Farebrother. When Fred finally realizes that she is implying Mr. Farebrother loves Mary, he is shocked. He says goodbye to Mrs. Garth, uneasy about the news that he has “a rival.”
Again, we see that Fred is well-meaning, but also that his self-centered nature makes him ignorant of what’s going on around him. He had never considered that Farebrother liked Mary or that his attachment to Mary denied her opportunities to consider other men.  
Themes
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Ambition and Disappointment Theme Icon
Once Fred gets to Lowick Parsonage, he, Mary, Mrs. Farebrother, Miss Winifred, and Miss Noble discuss clergymen. Mary admits that she doesn’t like clergymen as a rule, with the exception of the Vicar of Wakefield and Mr. Farebrother. When Mr. Farebrother joins them, Fred feels "horribly jealous” and convinced that Mary will choose the vicar instead of Fred. When Fred and Mary get a brief moment alone, Fred dramatically declares that he sees Mary is going to marry Farebrother. Mary scornfully tells Fred that he is being ridiculous. Though she doesn’t admit this directly, she only loves Fred.
Due to his immaturity, Fred’s attempts to express his feelings often end up emerging in a melodramatic, self-pitying fashion. He could have asked Mary about her feelings in a calm, respectful manner, but instead he becomes jealous even though there is little to no evidence that Mary actually plans to marry Farebrother. However, Mary’s lifelong devotion to Fred means that she overlooks these flaws.
Themes
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Ambition and Disappointment Theme Icon