Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

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Middlemarch: Book 8, Chapter 86 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At the Garths’, Caleb goes outside to see Mary, who is playing with Letty. He asks Mary to walk with him, telling her that it unfortunately may be a long time before she can get married. Mary says she is happy and doesn’t mind waiting, then asks if Caleb is okay with her marrying Fred. Caleb says he won’t try to change Mary’s mind if her decision has been made, and Mary replies that she and Fred are completely devoted to one another. Caleb then asks her what she thinks about Fred living at Stone Court. Mary is stunned, saying “it is too good to believe.” 
Again, Mary and Fred’s “happy ending” isn’t perfect. Her family isn’t thrilled with the match, and due to Fred’s financial circumstances they will have to wait a while for the wedding. However, the “good enough” ending is in a way more moving than a more traditional happy ending because it is more realistic.
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Mary embraces Caleb, saying he is “the best man in the world.” Fred arrives at the house, and while talking with Mary he mentions that he hopes they will be married in two years. She tells him the news about Stone Court, and Fred is so shocked that he initially doesn’t believe her. Mary assures him it’s true, and then tells him she loves him.
Another moving aspect of this ending is the fact that Bulstrode’s misfortune ends up becoming the source of a great deal of happiness for Caleb, Mary, and Fred. Through generosity, it is possible to bring a silver lining to even the worst situations.
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