Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

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Middlemarch: Book 7, Chapter 69 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Caleb Garth comes to see Bulstrode at the bank and tells him that there is a “very ill” man at Stone Court—Raffles. Horrified, Bulstrode asks Caleb to call Lydgate. Caleb then apologetically says that he must stop working for Bulstrode as a result of things he has heard about him from Raffles. Bulstrode urges Caleb not to believe this “slander,” and when Caleb sadly refuses, Bulstrode asks to at least know what Raffles said. However, Caleb replies that he will never repeat it. He believes that Bulstrode must have atoned for his actions and that he doesn’t intend to increase Bulstrode’s suffering.
Caleb’s profound sense of honor illuminates the similarity between him and Will. Both refuse to be involved with any wrongdoing even when it might greatly benefit them. Furthermore, both are honorable enough that they do not consider making Bulstrode’s secret public. This restraint is unusual and admirable in a community so fixated on gossip and scandal.
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Later, Bulstrode goes to Stone Court, desperately hoping that Raffles’s illness might kill him before he can tell anyone else about Bulstrode’s past. However, he finds Raffles more or less all right. Raffles claims that he only revealed all to Caleb in the midst of a hallucination. Bulstrode then calls Lydgate to attend to Raffles’s health, explaining that Raffles’s illness has affected his mental capacity. After examining Raffles, Lydgate tells Bulstrode that his condition is likely not fatal. Bulstrode says he will stay the night with Raffles and Lydgate gives him instructions for Raffles’s care.
Raffles’s alcoholism makes his behavior especially unpredictable. It is unclear whether or not he is actually ill, and if this illness is largely a physical or mental problem. It is also unclear whether his claim to have told Caleb Bulstrode’s secret in the midst of a “hallucination” is true. Raffles appears to be using this as an excuse for his behavior, when in fact the “hallucination” could just mean that he was drunk. 
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Raffles is suffering from alcohol poisoning, and Lydgate imagines that Bulstrode is taking care of him as an act of charity. Lydgate gets home to find Dover’s man taking his furniture and Rosamond crying in their bedroom. She says she wants to stay with her parents until Lydgate has secured “a comfortable home.” Lydgate says she can go if she wants, but that there is no rush. He says they might have a surprise twist of good fortune, such as him breaking his neck. Rosamond is hurt by the “violence” of his words, but says she will stay. 
Both Rosamond and Lydgate employ passive aggressive and self-pitying tactics in order to appeal to the sympathy of the other. This tends to work when Rosamond does it to Lydgate, but not the other way around. This conveys that it is Rosamond who holds the true power in the relationship.
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