Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

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Rev. Edward Casaubon Character Analysis

When we are first introduced to him, Rev. Edward Casaubon is a 45-year-old bachelor. He is wealthy and high-ranking, but socially awkward and dull. He is also described as ugly and “dry;” when Sir James Chettam hears that Dorothea is engaged to him, he laments that Casaubon is “no better than a mummy.” His house, Lowick Manor, is described as correspondingly dark and dreary. Casaubon has spent several decades of his life on a work of theological scholarship called The Key to All Mythologies. He praises patience and diligent work as the keys to success, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that he is paralyzed by insecurity and that the project will likely never be finished. Casaubon’s cousin Will Ladislaw also reveals that because Casaubon doesn’t read German, he has not been able to keep abreast of the latest developments in theological scholarship and that his project will not be taken seriously (if it is ever published at all). Casaubon suffers from ill health and dies only a few years after marrying Dorothea. Toward the end of his life he becomes intensely suspicious of Will’s feelings about Dorothea, and thus stipulates in his will that if Dorothea marries Will she will lose all the property she inherited from him.

Rev. Edward Casaubon Quotes in Middlemarch

The Middlemarch quotes below are all either spoken by Rev. Edward Casaubon or refer to Rev. Edward Casaubon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Middlemarch published in 2015.
Book 4, Chapter 42 Quotes

Thus his intellectual ambition which seemed to others to have absorbed and dried him, was really no security against wounds, least of all against those which came from Dorothea. And he had begun now to frame possibilities for the future which were somehow more embittering to him than anything his mind had dwelt on before.

Related Characters: Dorothea Brooke, Rev. Edward Casaubon
Related Symbols: The Key to All Mythologies
Page Number: 418
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 48 Quotes

And here Dorothea's pity turned from her own future to her husband's past - nay, to his present hard struggle with a lot which had grown out of that past the lonely labour, the ambition breathing hardly under the pressure of self-distrust; the goal receding, and the heavier limbs; and now at last the sword visibly trembling above him! And had she not wished to marry him that she might help him in his life's labour? - But she had thought the work was to be something greater, which she could serve in devoutly for its own sake. Was it right, even to soothe his grief - would it be possible, even if she promised - to work as in a treadmill fruitlessly?

Related Characters: Dorothea Brooke, Rev. Edward Casaubon
Related Symbols: The Key to All Mythologies
Page Number: 479
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 8, Chapter 72 Quotes

“And, of course men know best about everything, except what women know better.”

Dorothea laughed and forgot her tears.

“Well, I mean about babies and those things,” explained Celia. “I should not give up to James when I knew he was wrong, as you used to do to Mr Casaubon.”

Related Characters: Dorothea Brooke (speaker), Celia Brooke (speaker), Sir James Chettam, Rev. Edward Casaubon
Page Number: 736
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rev. Edward Casaubon Character Timeline in Middlemarch

The timeline below shows where the character Rev. Edward Casaubon appears in Middlemarch. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1
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...things. Today Sir James Chettam is coming to dinner at Tipton along with Rev. Edward Casaubon, whom Dorothea and Celia have never met. Casaubon is a wealthy, respected, and highly educated... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2
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...himself and his tenant farmers. Mr. Brooke dismissively replies that women don’t understand political economy. Casaubon interrupts with a non sequitur, explaining that he spends all his time reading ancient books.... (full context)
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...women. Dorothea impatiently replies that she is giving up riding, wanting to focus only on Casaubon. Sir James responds that Dorothea is too harsh on herself; Celia agrees that she is... (full context)
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...discussing politics, and Dorothea says that she wishes he would let her organize his documents. Casaubon admiringly comments that Dorothea seems like an “excellent secretary,” but Mr. Brooke responds that women... (full context)
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...that horse-riding is healthy, and Dorothea suggests that Celia should do it. They argue until Casaubon intervenes, taking Dorothea’s side. Sir James is not jealous of Dorothea’s evident admiration of Casaubon,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
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The next morning Dorothea and Casaubon have a long conversation, during which she gets to know his “labyrinthine” mind and similarly... (full context)
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Afterward, Casaubon looks at Mr. Brooke’s documents in his office. Before going, he tells Dorothea he has... (full context)
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Dorothea imagines that if she marries Casaubon she will “learn everything.” She dreams about helping him with his research and designing cottages... (full context)
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Shortly after, Casaubon comes to Tipton again. It is increasingly clear that he is deliberately coming to see... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
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Mr. Brooke finds Dorothea entranced by her reading; he tells her that he’s noticed Casaubon wants a wife. When Dorothea replies that anyone should consider themselves honored to fill that... (full context)
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Mr. Brooke is confused, feeling that he doesn’t understand women. At 45, Casaubon is 27 years older than Dorothea, and Casaubon’s health is poor. Dorothea says she’d prefer... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
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The chapter opens with Casaubon’s letter to Dorothea. It is comically stiff and convoluted, devoid of any romance or affection... (full context)
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...the life she has been craving now seems available to her. After dinner, Dorothea writes Casaubon a response in her room. She is so nervous that her hand is shaking and... (full context)
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...to deliver a union between James and Dorothea. The next day, a letter arrives from Casaubon saying he will come to dinner at Tipton that night. Celia notices Dorothea’s reaction to... (full context)
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...she hopes someone else is coming to dinner so she doesn’t have to listen to Casaubon eat his soup. Hurt, Dorothea tells Celia not to say things like that; when Celia... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
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As Casaubon’s carriage leaves Middlemarch, another carriage enters, containing a woman who is obviously important in some... (full context)
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...Celia enters the room and, when prompted, tells Mrs. Cadwallader that Dorothea is engaged to Casaubon. Mrs. Cadwallader deems this “frightful,” and she and Celia discuss their dislike of Casaubon and... (full context)
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...that other women should “think of their families in marrying.” She adds that at least Casaubon has money. Later, Mrs. Cadwallader intercepts Sir James on his way to Tipton. First, she... (full context)
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Horrified, Sir James exclaims: “He is no better than a mummy!” adding that Casaubon “has one foot in the grave.” Mrs. Cadwallader attempts to cheer him up and suggests... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
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All the time that Casaubon spends at Tipton during his and Dorothea’s engagement forces him to neglect his scholarly project,... (full context)
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Mr. Brooke tells Casaubon that certain subjects are too difficult for women, but Casaubon replies that Dorothea is only... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
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Sir James still enjoys coming to Tipton; he does not feel resentful of Casaubon, but rather worries that Dorothea is gripped by some kind of “melancholy illusion.” Although he... (full context)
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Sir James stresses that Casaubon is awful. Mr. Cadwallader protests that Sir James, who is handsome, is putting too much... (full context)
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Sir James and Mrs. Cadwallader discuss how years of isolated study have spoiled Casaubon’s personality. Mr. Cadwallader says that while he can’t pretend to understand Dorothea’s choices they should... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
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...an appetite for submission afterwards.” Thus Dorothea, Celia, and Mr. Brooke make a trip to Casaubon’s home, Lowick Manor. It is a grand, elegant house, but without children running around and... (full context)
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...and is filled with joy as she walks around the house. She is grateful for Casaubon’s efforts to make the house appealing to her, but suggests no changes. When he asks... (full context)
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The group stops to examine portraits of Casaubon’s family members. Casaubon comments that his mother’s sister “made an unfortunate marriage” and that he... (full context)
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...that all who live in the local village are reasonably well off and respectable. Later, Casaubon observes that Dorothea seems subdued. She admits that she wishes that the local people needed... (full context)
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...to understand art. Will thinks that Dorothea must be awful (considering that she is marrying Casaubon) and that her comment about not understanding art was probably a thinly-veiled judgment. At the... (full context)
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Will laughs and leaves. Casaubon explains that Will attended Rugby (a boarding school) and then made the strange choice of... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10
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...None of these experiments have had the transformative effect he was hoping for. He finds Casaubon’s plodding commitment to his enormous work of scholarship ridiculous. The narrator observes that, like all... (full context)
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...optimism about her marriage. The couple plans to travel to Rome on their honeymoon, where Casaubon will examine manuscripts held at the Vatican. Casaubon invites Celia to come as a companion... (full context)
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...Chettam discuss medicines, a favorite topic among those of high social rank. They concur that Casaubon has been looking very “dry” since the proposal, and that compared to Sir James he... (full context)
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...a “fine girl” and “a little too earnest.” Shortly after the dinner party, she and Casaubon head to Rome. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 19
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...his friend, Ladislaw, is fixated on the woman. Ladislaw explains that she is married to Casaubon, which shocks his friend, who replies: “Mrs. Second-Cousin [is] the most perfect young Madonna I... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 20
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Two hours later, Dorothea sits in her apartment and weeps while Casaubon remains at the Vatican working. Dorothea is not sure why she is so upset, yet... (full context)
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Dorothea is confused. Casaubon hasn’t changed; he is just as serious and intelligent as he always has been. Yet... (full context)
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Casaubon rarely expresses any real feeling about the spectacular sights they go to see in Rome.... (full context)
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A brief argument ensues, and both Dorothea and Casaubon are shocked by the anger expressed by the other. Earlier, she had accompanied him to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 21
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Back in the moment when Dorothea is crying alone in the apartment, Casaubon’s servant Tantripp knocks on the door with the news that a relative of Casaubon is... (full context)
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...says he doesn’t like things that don’t “come easily” to him, and Dorothea replies that Casaubon finds this impatience frustrating. (full context)
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Will says that few people are as patient as Casaubon, and it is a shame that his scholarship is hindered by the fact that he... (full context)
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Casaubon arrives and invites Will to dinner the next day; Will agrees and leaves. Dorothea apologizes... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 22
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At dinner the next day, Dorothea is impressed by the charming way Will converses with Casaubon. Casaubon similarly feels proud of Dorothea, who he feels speaks better than most women. Will... (full context)
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Naumann tells Casaubon that he would love to use him as a model for a picture of St.... (full context)
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...she leaves Rome. He visits her in the middle of the day, when he knows Casaubon will be at the library. Dorothea asks him to look at some cameos she has... (full context)
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...her, but his kind tone ensures that Dorothea is not offended. Dorothea asks him if Casaubon’s ignorance of German really dooms his scholarship to irrelevance. Will explains that the topic Casaubon... (full context)
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...for a career. She asks him to promise that he won’t mention the problem with Casaubon’s scholarship to anyone else. Will promises and leaves, meeting Casaubon on the way out. When... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 28
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Dorothea and Casaubon arrive back from their honeymoon to January snow. The morning after their arrival Casaubon speaks... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 29
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This chapter begins with another consideration of Dorothea’s perspective before switching to Casaubon’s. The narrator argues that Casaubon cannot be blamed for choosing to marry, and points out... (full context)
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Casaubon had planned to rely on Dorothea’s help with his work, but now this strikes him... (full context)
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Dorothea helps Casaubon to the couch. Sir James arrives and Dorothea explains that her husband has “had a... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 30
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Casaubon recovers within a few days, but Lydgate remains worried and stresses that Casaubon needs to... (full context)
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...politics with him. He sends the letter without telling Dorothea, who is busy tending to Casaubon. (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 34
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...Cadwallader has persuaded Sir James and Celia to drive her to Lowick. Against Lydgate’s advice, Casaubon has returned to working with the same intensity as always. (full context)
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Casaubon, Dorothea, and their guests watch through the window as the funeral train enters the church.... (full context)
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...didn’t know Ladislaw was coming. Mr. Brooke casually explains that Ladislaw is staying with him. Casaubon concludes that Dorothea must have asked Mr. Brooke to invite Ladislaw to stay at Tipton.... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 37
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...this in a complimentary way. He appreciates Ladislaw’s “enthusiasm for liberty, freedom, emancipation” and tells Casaubon that he is glad they are related. Casaubon could not feel more differently. Ladislaw knows... (full context)
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...to see her alone, and admits to her that he aimed to catch her without Casaubon. Dorothea explains that she has learned a lot since Rome in order to be able... (full context)
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Will says that Casaubon should get a secretary, and Dorothea says neither she nor her husband wants that. Will... (full context)
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...he goes to leave, he wants to ask Dorothea not to mention their conversation to Casaubon, but he doesn’t want to corrupt her innate honesty, so says nothing. (full context)
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When Casaubon comes home, Dorothea tells him about Will’s visit and Mr. Brooke’s proposal. She suggests that... (full context)
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...keeps thinking about Julia. She thinks that the unjust way Julia was treated means that Casaubon “ha[s] a debt to the Ladislaws.” She suddenly feels sure that in order to repay... (full context)
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Dorothea then mentions Julia, suggesting that Casaubon himself perhaps felt a debt and that’s why he paid for Will’s education. She says... (full context)
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Casaubon is suddenly convinced that all of Will’s recent actions have been part of a plan... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 39
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...He is called outside, leaving Will and Dorothea alone. Will asks if she knows that Casaubon banned him from coming to Lowick; Dorothea, shocked, says: “I am very, very sorry.” Will... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 42
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After returning from his honeymoon, Lydgate goes to Lowick to check on Casaubon. Casaubon’s hard work has always tended to produce paranoia about what others think of him... (full context)
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The bad state of Casaubon’s health makes everything worse still, as he is not sure whether he will live long... (full context)
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Lydgate finds Casaubon taking a walk. Casaubon sees that Lydgate looks thin and sad. Casaubon tells him that... (full context)
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For the first time, Dorothea blames Casaubon, rather than herself, for the problems in their marriage. By nightfall, she decides to tell... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 43
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Despite the fact that she rarely leaves Lowick Manor without Casaubon, Dorothea goes into town to ask Lydgate for the truth about her husband’s health. Arriving... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 44
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...year to the New Hospital, as she has too much money anyway. Later she asks Casaubon about giving £200 out of the £700 a year allowance she receives through her marriage.... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 46
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...him, although opinion is divided on whether Ladislaw deserves to have been cut off by Casaubon. He likes “to ramble about among the poor people,” and especially loves playing with children.... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 47
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...Surprisingly, he does not spend time dreaming of becoming Dorothea’s husband in the event of Casaubon’s death. Due to his romantic nature, the feelings he has  are enough to satisfy him... (full context)
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...not join in the singing of hymns. As the congregation leaves, Will attempts to catch Casaubon’s eye, but Casaubon ignores him. He and Dorothea exchange a glance and she bows, but... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 48
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Dorothea is miserable over the fact that Casaubon refused to acknowledge Will. Her life feels empty, as she cannot do anything to truly... (full context)
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Before he goes to sleep, Casaubon asks Dorothea if she will promise to act according to his wishes after he dies.... (full context)
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...is not able to fall asleep until the morning. Upon waking she goes to see Casaubon in the library, and he tells her that he doesn’t feel well and is going... (full context)
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Eventually Dorothea reluctantly goes out to meet Casaubon in the garden. She finds him sitting at a bench, seemingly asleep. She tells him... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 49
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The day after Casaubon’s funeral, Dorothea remains shut up in her room. Sir James tells Mr. Brooke that until... (full context)
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...desperately scheming ways to get Ladislaw a colonial post. He is filled with hate for Casaubon, but at the same time distrusts Ladislaw. Brooke suggests that sending Ladislaw away might imply... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 50
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...is no rush in worrying about it, but suggests Mr. Tyke. Dorothea asks to see Casaubon’s will as there may be instructions regarding the appointment of a successor in there. Brooke... (full context)
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Celia eventually admits that Casaubon has done something terrible and that she must warn Dorothea about it. She reveals that... (full context)
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...will if she wants to, and after Celia confesses that she told her sister about Casaubon’s stipulation, Sir James finally agrees to drive her to Lowick. Dorothea says she would like... (full context)
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At Lowick, Dorothea finds Casaubon’s instructions for her to finish The Key to All Mythologies, which she now regards as... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 51
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...are so absorbed in politics that sales of alcohol decline). Will has no idea about Casaubon’s will, but has noticed that Brooke has suddenly stopped inviting him to Tipton, which angers... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 52
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In June, Farebrother and his relatives celebrate the news that he will be taking over Casaubon’s post. Miss Winifred tells him through happy tears that he should finally get married; he... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 54
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...stare at him all day. Celia is unaware of this, and thinks it is good Casaubon died before Dorothea got pregnant because their baby would not have been as lovely as... (full context)
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...Lowick, telling the butler that he is there to say goodbye. The butler notes that Casaubon’s jealousies were obviously baseless, and that he heard from Mrs. Cadwallader that Dorothea is going... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 59
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Fred hears from Farebrother’s female relatives about the stipulation in Casaubon’s will forbidding Dorothea from marrying Will. Fred has not spoken much to Rosamond since she... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 62
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...At the same time, she is troubled by the inappropriateness of their relationship, particularly since Casaubon forbade it. Within two days, Will leaves Middlemarch.   (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 72
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...wanted a husband!” Celia is confused, as Dorothea used to always be so submissive to Casaubon. (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 83
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Dorothea thinks about Casaubon’s will, and somewhat hesitantly tells Miss Noble that Will should come in. When they first... (full context)