Dorothea arrives and asks Lydgate, who clearly has no idea what happened the day before, if she can see Rosamond. Lydgate expresses his deepest thanks for Dorothea’s £1000 check. Rosamond looks alarmed when Lydgate tells her Dorothea is here to see her, but agrees to come downstairs. Rosamond feels resentful of the power held by Dorothea, who is both the object of Will’s love and Lydgate’s financial rescuer. As the women greet each other, they are both overwhelmed with emotion. Dorothea says she hopes that Rosamond won’t find it inappropriate for them to discuss Lydgate’s situation. Rosamond assures her she won’t.
As has been made clear throughout the novel, Dorothea and Rosamond are opposites: their personalities and desires could not be more different. However, that does not mean that they are unable to feel sympathy for one another, even if this sympathy is tinged with intimidation.
Dorothea tells Rosamond that Mr. Farebrother, Mr. Brooke, and Sir James all know and believe the truth about Lydgate’s involvement in the Bulstrode scandal. She then stresses that Lydgate desperately wants to make Rosamond happy and feels wretched about how his actions have hurt her. On hearing this Rosamond bursts into tears. For the first time, the illusion of her “dream-world” in which she is blameless and everyone else is at fault has been broken. Dorothea reflects that marriage is very difficult, as even the closeness of two people can become a kind of curse.
This passage contains a highly surprising twist. Rosamond has clung to her own belief that she is innocent throughout the novel, even as evidence mounts that she has contributed to the problems facing her and Lydgate. However, it takes the kind-hearted intervention of Dorothea for Rosamond to finally see her marriage from a different perspective and understand that she is also at fault.
Composing herself, Rosamond explains that Dorothea misinterpreted the scene between her and Will yesterday. She says that Will was confessing that he loved “another woman,” but that after Dorothea saw them Will was adamant that he couldn’t explain the truth to her. Dorothea is stunned, but focuses on comforting Rosamond. Lydgate enters and asks if Dorothea wants a carriage, as it has started raining. However, Dorothea maintains that she is “strong” and wants to walk in the rain. She and Rosamond exchange a heartfelt yet restrained goodbye. Once Dorothea leaves, Rosamond tells Lydgate that she is “better than any one.”
Again, Dorothea is exhibiting saint-like behavior—endeavoring to solve the problems of others that actually have nothing to do with her. Perhaps rather than building cottages or a colony, the best way for her to exercise her passion for bringing good to the world is by simply offering comfort and advice to those in her community. She evidently has a natural aptitude for it.