George Eliot

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Middlemarch: Book 8, Chapter 72 Summary & Analysis

Farebrother tells Dorothea not to approach Lydgate herself, as this will insult his pride. Dorothea remains desperate to find proof of Lydgate’s innocence, while Sir James—who is these days her “best friend”—advises her strongly against intervening. Dorothea remains so passionate about helping Lydgate that Farebrother is almost convinced she is actually right. However, James insists that she hold back. Celia urges Dorothea to listen to James, who as her brother-in-law acts as a kind of stand-in for her husband. Dorothea replies: “As if I wanted a husband!” Celia is confused, as Dorothea used to always be so submissive to Casaubon.
Celia’s confusion over Dorothea’s sudden unwillingness to defer to the authority of a man is somewhat warranted. However, Celia fails to understand two things: firstly, that Dorothea never wanted to submit to the authority of just any man, but rather held Casaubon in particularly high esteem. Secondly, Dorothea herself has appeared to undergo a change of heart and finally realize that she prefers to trust her own opinions.
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