Mr. Garth and Dorothea prove to be natural allies on the subject of improvements and social projects; Mr. Garth is very impressed With Dorothea's determination and her great mind, though Mrs. Garth is more concerned with her feminine virtues. Railroads are being built across England, and this becomes a topic in Middlemarch as the trains grow closer. Mr. Garth and Dorothea have nothing against them, and decide to sell an outer part of Dorothea's land to the railroads for a good price. Some men attack Caleb Garth and his assistant as they are doing some surveying for the railroad; they are as afraid of the unknown as anybody, but Caleb teaches them better.
Fred enjoys helping Caleb after his assistant is hurt; he asks Mr. Garth if perhaps he would be able to learn his business, though Caleb Garth believes that Fred is going to enter the clergy. Fred confides in him about his trepidation about entering the clergy, and his love for Mary and wishes to please her. Mr. Garth bears Fred no ill will about the debt he owes them, nor is he upset at Fred being in love with Mary; he decides to consult his wife about Fred becoming his helper, and about a possible match between Fred and Mary. Caleb decides to bring Fred into the business, and if he succeeds, then he is worthy of Mary as well. Fred tells his parents, who are disappointed at Fred's waste of education. They also lament Rosamond's marriage, which is seeming less attractive as Lydgate gets into more and more debt.
Once again, the theme of progress vs. tradition comes into play for the citizens of Middlemarch, who are characteristically stubborn at first, but cannot hold out for too long. There is the typical huge outcry at the beginning of the debate; the few dissenters are condemned for their opinions, but opinion will have to change. Middlemarchers exercise their wonderful tendency to condemn something on only the most peripheral and sketchy of facts. But, as proud, foolish, and ignorant people, they will be proven wrong, as progress will not be ultimately hindered by the uniformed.
Caleb speaks against the ignorance and lies that have people up in arms about the railroad; he is too intelligent and discriminating to buy into any of it, though the masses are not. The group who attacks Caleb's assistant mask their fear with a show of aggression, just as others in Middlemarch hide their own trepidation with fighting words. It is a paradox inherent in the nature of everyone in the region; as they come to terms with the theme of progress vs. tradition, there is a great deal of fear to be faced and dealt with in ways that mask its existence.
Fred is finally proving good, thanks to his love for Mary; he is of a relatively honest, straightforward temperament, like Mary, and so their relationship has few of the troubles of Dorothea and Will's. Caleb sees Mary and Fred's courtship as being parallel to his courtship of his own wife. Though Fred shall not be rich, and is not completely deserving of Mary, he reminds Caleb Garth of himself, in his honesty, and his potential to become an industrious man. Their mutual love is also something that Caleb treasures; and once Caleb Garth has made up his mind that something should be done, it is.
Responsibility is a major theme in Fred's story, and it is something that he will have to learn if he is to have a profession, and Mary as his wife. But it is probably more like pride that is keeping Fred in his place with Mr. Garth; he cannot go to Mary and admit that he has failed, so he has to stick to his job, even when it displeases him. Pride is what allows him to tell his parents of his new job, without being crushed by their disapproval; and pride is why he has to stick to it, in order to prove that he is good for something.
At the same time, social divisions play into Fred's decision and his life; his father is upset because Fred is taking a position that is not considered suitable for one of his birth. Fred is somewhat disappointed at first too, that he will have neither the social standing nor economic standing that his parents had, and hoped him to have as well. Fred's marriage to Mary will also bring him down a little in the social hierarchy, which his mother laments; she believes she should marry someone of the same connections and money, but these are far from the only considerations that matter. Rosamond also made the same step, when she married Lydgate, who has few connections and little money; but where Fred can do without the money and the position, Rosamond cannot, and it will injure her vanity when she realizes she has to give up the living to which she is accustomed.
Fred has gone to the Garths, to consult them about his change in situation, and also to see if his wishes that Mary marry him are accepted by the family, and Mary as well. However, Mrs. Garth is still not assured of Fred's worth, and his character; yes, he means well, but he has never held a stable job or proven himself to be responsible. Mrs. Garth is still angry at Fred for the issue of his debt; but she cannot tell him directly, so she admonishes him for being unfeeling of others, and of having no regard for Farebrother's feelings for Mary too. Fred then thinks that it is very possible that Mary prefers Farebrother to him, and that Mary will become engaged to him; when Fred tells Mary this, Mary gets very upset at him. Mary thinks the allegation unfair, and scolds Fred for his jealousy; but, as many unpleasing qualities as Fred has, she cannot help but love him, and still plans to be married to Fred.
Fred and Christy Garth are indeed foils, as Eliot notes; while Fred displays all the signs of privilege, laziness, and irresponsibility, Christy is very much the opposite. Christy has all the qualities of industry and thrift that the Garths possess and respect; and Mrs. Garth's pride in her son, his achievements, and his character, show the kinds of qualities that the Garths treasure and find worthy. When directly juxtaposed with someone like Christy, Fred becomes less of an attractive prospect for a son-in-law to Mrs. Garth; he looks even less honorable and worthy than usual. The differences between Fred and Christy show the divide between Fred's upbringing, and the upbringing of the Garth children; there is much difference in their two families, which will give Fred some difficulty if he wants to prove worthy of Mary.
Mrs. Garth's metaphor for Fred's character and situationof "making a meal of a nightingale and never knowing it"shows her particular contempt for Fred's lack of responsibility. It is this thought which also begins to change her tone when she speaks to him; she becomes more bitter and fierce in what she says, trying to convey how Fred has hurt people like the Garths without feeling sorry for it, but without stating as much directly. At the same time, Mrs. Garth, like Fred's mother and father, has a soft spot for the boy; she soon relents, speaking with less accusatory words and a softer tone, though she wishes for Fred to still learn a valuable lesson.
The Garths' marriage is peculiar, especially when compared to other marriages in the book, like that of the Vincys, or of Dorothea and Casaubon. Mrs. Garth is allowed a great deal more latitude in making decisions for the household and guiding things along, and her husband is there as an occasional adviser and supporter. This system seems to work very well for the Garths, with Mrs. Garth intuitively knowing when her husband must be consulted on one matter or another. With the Vincys, Mr. Vincy is the official head of the household; when Mrs. Vincy wants things her way, she manipulates her husband into following her willnot always healthy for a relationship. Casaubon and Dorothea were almost opposite of the Garths, with Casaubon assuming every responsibility, and dictating to Dorothea about what she should do, and how she should live. The Garths' marriage is definitely the healthiest found so far in the novel ,and it is because both fulfill their duties and responsibilities, and do not overstep their unstated boundaries.
Fred, at this point, is still engaged in the process of becoming an independent adult. Though Mrs. Garth's suggestions that he does not think about other people really bother him, he is, foolishly, troubled more by the suggestion that Mary likes Farebrother best. It is ironic that Fred comes close to learning a lesson about being less selfish, and twists it around at the last to some sort of jealousy on his part. Fred still has much to learn, and he needs to have some faith in other people, rather than automatically assuming some sort of betrayal their part. Mary proves much more mature than Fred is at this moment; she has much that she can teach him, and probably will, since she loves him despite his failings.
She and Lydgate get a visit from his cousin, Captain Lydgate, which thrills Rosamond; Lydgate thinks his cousin foppish and stupid, and would rather him leave. Rosamond gets a little upset with Lydgate on this issue, though Lydgate insists he is not the only one who dislikes his cousin. Rosamond's baby is born premature because of an accident on a horse, and dies soon after; she would not have been riding if she had listened to her husband's advice, but stubbornly refused to listen to him. Lydgate is also troubled by his growing debt, especially since it was incurred buying things which he, though perhaps not Rosamond, could have done without.
Lydgate finally has to put up the furniture of the house as security against his debt; he tries to speak to Rosamond about keeping expenses down and buying less expensive things, but he is too soft-hearted to really tell her anything. Rosamond proves to be very silly and naïve, and even thinks to herself that she would not have married Lydgate if she knew he was to have little money, and that she could not have lived as she was used to. Rosamond decides to go and ask her father for money, against Lydgate's wishes; Lydgate is saddened that this issue will come up again and again, and he will have to struggle to keep Rosamond from wasting too much money.
Rosamond's favor for Captain Lydgate is based solely on her vanity. He flatters her, compliments her, and pays her a great deal of attention, which her husband seems not to do anymore; he fulfills Rosamond's need to be frequently attended to, increasing her contentment. Also, the fact that he is of higher rank and title means that Rosamond likes him even more for it; she is snobbishly proud of being visited by someone of higher rank than anyone she knows in Middlemarch. She still thrills in her husband's high connections and good birth, which also please her vain character. What made Rosamond love Lydgate in the first place was how he sated her vanity with flirtations, attentions, and compliments; but since this courtship behavior is over, Rosamond might begin to feel that she doesn't care so much for him anymore, or that something is lacking in the union.
The other pillar of the union, Lydgate's pride, is also crumbling fast. He expected Rosamond to lavish her attentions and graces on him at all time, though that too was her courtship, and not her everyday, behavior. He wants to feel that his wife honors and loves him above all, but her show of pleasantness toward Captain Lydgate, coupled with her less pleasant behavior toward her husband, is quickly deflating his pride. Also, the fact that she is making decisions for herself which are contrary to her husband's wishes, as when she goes horseback riding without his permission, is lessening his pride because he sees that he is not the real leader of the household that he suspected he would be. Once these two can no longer feed their flaws through each other's attentions and presence, the union will have nothing left on which to stand.
Mrs. Bulstrode's predictions about the union are coming true; Rosamond's expensive tastes have gotten Lydgate into trouble, and he does not know how to get her to stop. Lydgate is about as good with money as Fred is, but unlike Fred, he will not stoop to asking anyone's help with the matter. Lydgate had let Rosamond do as she wished with the household, trusting that she would do things sensibly, with an eye for their situation; however, Lydgate finds that Rosamond is an exceedingly impractical creature in more than one sense, which causes him great pain. At the same time, pride causes him to try and protect her from what is happening, and not to disappoint her too much in her new living.
Rosamond and her brother Fred are much alike in the ways they view money; money is something that they take for granted that they have, and they believe they should be able to afford anything they wish. Money is a major theme, and decisive element, in both of their stories, but Fred is forced to learn his errors, and Rosamond is not. Fred, as a man, has to try and make his own living, and is also forced to realize the consequences of his dependence on others to pay his debts. However, Rosamond does not learn, because she is not a man; her husband makes the living, not her, and she has no conception of the value of money. Rosamond needs to see that her preferred way of living is getting her husband into deep debt, rather than be protected from her foolishness. But, Lydgate's pride, and his love for his ornamental bride, keep him from teaching her a very necessary lesson.
Lydgate chose to marry Rosamond because she was charming, beautiful, knew the appropriate arts and music, and had social graces; Rosamond is all the things that a proper young lady should be, and everything that society tries to force women to be. But, women who are near to the ideal, like Rosamond is, also have no capacity for anything practical or serious; it is as if society wants them to be helpless, and wants to keep them from being complete human beings. Lydgate realizes that he might have been mistaken in choosing her, because the ideal in society is not necessarily the ideal for him. He thinks of Dorothea, who, though unconventional, would be intelligent, sensitive, and practical enough to be a good wife to a man like him. Rosamond too married Lydgate because he was an idealattentive, intelligent, attractive, etc. But though Rosamond and Lydgate are ideal models in many ways, this doesn't mean that they have any of the qualities necessary to make a life together. In searching out society's ideal, rather than someone who was a good fit for them personally, they have condemned themselves to a poor marriage, and a great deal of disappointment throughout their lives.
Gossip has gone around the neighborhood about the codicil in Casaubon's will; Fred finds out about it from the Farebrothers, and then proceeds to tell his sister. Rosamond is profoundly silly, and decides, unwisely, to tease Will about knowing something he doesn't, then make a joke of it all. Will grasps what she means to say, and gets the truth out of her; Rosamond still tries to spin the whole thing in lighthearted way, but Will is very upset, and perhaps understands more about Dorothea's behavior.
Will's strong feelings on hearing about the will foreshadows another meeting, and perhaps the continuation of his friendship, with Dorothea. Finally, he has found out why she has acted as she has, and it is due to the influence of her dead husband, not her own wishes. The will, as a symbol of Casaubon's ill-motivated desires, is likely to fail very soon. Now that Casaubon is dead, Will and Dorothea's affection has far more force than his words in a document, and hopefully, they shall disregard the document entirely, and do as they are prompted by their feelings to do.
Mr. Larcher, one of the wealthiest people in Middlemarch, is auctioning off some furniture he does not need before he moves into a new, bigger, furnished home. The event is like a carnival, with everyone in Middlemarch in attendance; there is plenty of food and drink, drink especially so that people might make higher bids for things. Not everybody buys things, but everyone is there for this social, outdoor occasion anyway. Will is asked by Mr. Bulstrode to go and acquire a particular painting for him; Will goes, though he is determined to leave the town soon. Still, Will does not want to leave without seeing Dorothea again, so his departure will have to wait on that.
A good many things are sold before the particular painting comes up; Will bids for the painting, and gets it for the Bulstrodes for a decent bit of money. Mr. Raffles turns up there, having found Will Ladislaw by inquiring somehow; Will is a bit put-off by him, and Mr. Raffles starts speaking of Will's family. Will cannot tell what Raffles' intentions are, so he gets away, and tries to forget about him; but it seems that Raffles has some less-than-desirable stories to tell about Will's family, which gives Will even more of a reason to leave, before stories like those could besmirch his name even more.
Though Will has been in Middlemarch for a good time, still there are prejudices against him, based on his social standing and his politics. Casaubon's will has not helped his situation any either, and as news of the codicil has spread around, people have assumed that Will must be out for Dorothea's money, or someone of no account. They do not consider that the codicil said more about Casaubon's insecurity or meanness than Will's character, simply because Casaubon had money, and had lived in Middlemarch for some time. Social prejudice is still a theme that has much bearing on Will's story at this point, though Will tries his best to ignore it and go about his business.
The re-emergence of Raffles means that his position as a threat to Bulstrode has not been avoided; his presence foreshadows a future importance for him, and perhaps that he might blacken Bulstrode's name a bit. But Raffles' possible intentions toward Will are something of a mystery; yes, Raffles knew Will's parents and something of his family, but why would this be so important that Raffles feel the need to track Will down? Perhaps Raffles means to blackmail Will with something too, though from his almost cordial demeanor, this seems unlikely.
Sure enough, Raffles has been back to Bulstrode's home, and refuses to go away until Bulstrode sees him. Raffles finds Bulstrode at the bank, as he tells his wife; but he is afraid to tell his wife much, lest she lose her confidence in him. It is revealed that Bulstrode married Will's maternal grandmother, after hiding from her that her daughter, Will's mother, was alive and had a son that the grandmother's riches were supposed to go to. However, Bulstrode prevented this from happening, for his own sake; and when the woman died, Bulstrode was left with the entire fortune, and Will and his mother with none. Bulstrode was also involved in various questionable trades, and these are the things that could destroy his reputation in Middlemarch. Bulstrode decides that he must do something to satisfy fate, and slow his own demise; he decides to speak to Will Ladislaw, and perhaps set things straight with him.
Will, however, is still unsettled by being approached by Raffles. He is shocked to discover the tenuous relation between Bulstrode and himself, and even more shocked when Bulstrode goes on to claim that he wants to be generous toward Will. Bulstrode tries to make it sound as if he is doing something out of generosity and his natural goodness, though it is more out of guilt and the thought that this good deed might save him. However, Will knows that Bulstrode made his money in a dishonest way, and is too proud to accept money from him, especially since that money is tainted by Bulstrode's wrongs. Bulstrode is saddened by the judgment on him, but is aware that Will won't tell anyone.
Unfortunately for Bulstrode, his troubles with Raffles are not quite over. Bulstrode is hardly a victim, however; he engaged himself in questionable business, including the selling of stolen property, so that he could gain money. But this, and the marriage and deception of Will's grandmother, Bulstrode tries to attribute to being God's wishes; he uses false piety as an excuse for the wrong things that he has done, and now he is going to pay. The lies and deceptions that have bound Bulstrode's sinful days to his honest ones in Middlemarch are coming apart; and, Raffles' continuing presence foreshadows a comeuppance for Bulstrode if he fails to appease Raffles.
Bulstrode and Will are juxtaposed in this chapter, in both morals and attitude. Bulstrode's weak character and avarice are juxtaposed with Will's strength, honor, and disregard for money if he hasn't earned it. Both of the men present opposite fronts; Bulstrode tries his best to appear benevolent and generous, while Will is proud, curt, and merciless.
Just as Bulstrode once justified taking tainted money through piety, now he is trying to absolve himself by making a show of generosity and righteousness before Will. Bulstrode hasn't really changed; in both cases, he is trying to cover up his stark self-interest, selfishness, and greed by making a show of his goodness and justness. For Bulstrode to truly be absolved, he would probably have to confess his wrongs, and then try and live out his life. His trying to gain absolution through another self-serving act is truly a paradox, and backfires completely on Bulstrode.
Will sends a letter to Dorothea, saying that he cannot leave Middlemarch until he has seen her again. He already declared that he was leaving two months before, which is a point of suspicion with Sir James, who guards Dorothea jealously. Dorothea, however, is out when the letter comes, preparing for Mr. Brooke to come back to the Grange. She goes to Freshitt, to speak to her sister and Sir James, and Sir James tries to take the opportunity to dissuade Dorothea from seeing Will again. He and Mrs. Cadwallader make a few unkind remarks about Will, which makes Dorothea angry, and she goes home to find Will there, looking for some sketches he had left.
Will tells Dorothea that he knows about Casaubon's will, and Dorothea tries to reassure him that it had nothing to do with her wishes. Will gets angry at her about the whole thing, and says that everything prevents him from being with her. Dorothea realizes that he has acted honorably in every possible way, and is glad for this; but still, she is unable to show any signs that she loves Will, and he goes without this assurance.
Sir James' behavior with regard to Dorothea is very odd; he is more jealous on her account, and more protective, than he seems to be with any matters regarding his wife. Perhaps Dorothea does need someone to guide and advise her, but why Sir James takes up this role without Dorothea's direct involvement, indicates something a little strange in his character. His animosity toward Will is almost as great as Casaubon's was, though it is based only on suspicion, and no tangible reasons at all. It is ironic that Sir James is more possessive about his wife's sister than his wife, but then again, Dorothea seems to be vulnerable in ways that Celia, with all her sensibilities, could never be.
With some irony, it is Sir James' attempts to keep Dorothea away from Will that only gain her anger. When Sir James and Mrs. Cadwallader speak of Will in condescending, scornful tones, it is too much for Dorothea; her love is still strong, and cannot bear their allegations. Dorothea is jealous when they gossip that Will and Rosamond are perhaps in love; her jealousy conveys how strong her feelings are, and her anger toward them at saying such things only confirms this.
Pride is a trait that Will and Dorothea both possess in abundance; and pride is the theme in the story which keeps them apart at this particular point. Will's pride keeps him from inviting more scorn from the community by staying with Dorothea, and from saying that he loves her because then she will have the upper hand if she does not. Dorothea is too proud also to admit her love for him, or to try and give him the financial support he deserves; she does not want to stoop to him, or lose her advantages, so she withholds her affections. However, Dorothea is also proud of Will, of his honor, and this strengthens her regard for him; pride is a thing of paradox in Will and Dorothea's relationship, at once conspiring to keep them apart, and then bring them together.
The strong feelings that persist after they part foreshadows a later meeting, especially since Dorothea is satisfied in knowing that Will is honorable and trustworthy. Their parting was not necessarily a friendly one, but it did not do great damage either. And, when love and longing begins to overpower pride on both of their accounts, it seems certain that they will end up together once again. Fate is a theme running through the book, that also seems to be something that is used to shape the narrative itself; and when fate is at work, a couple so suited to each other as Will and Dorothea cannot be left torn apart.
Farebrother notices some talk of Lydgate's practice declining, how his expenses much be more than he can really afford, and how he shouldn't have married a girl of such fine tastes. Farebrother really makes nothing of this talk, until he sees Lydgate again, and notices how nervous and strange his friend is acting. All are invited to a dinner party at the Vincys, and there seems to be some strain in Lydgate and Rosamond's marriage; she tries her best to ignore him, and they are not speaking at all. Even Rosamond's father is avoiding Lydgate. Farebrother, Fred, and Mary are all there, which means that Fred is worried about Mary liking Farebrother; Mrs. Vincy hopes that Farebrother and Mary will become engaged, because she doesn't want such a plain girl as a daughter-in-law.
In this chapter, it seems that many different threads of the story and many different individual agendas become tangled up when so many different people are in one room. Eliot uses this chapter to make clear how one person's actions can affect the fate of another; indeed, Middlemarch is such a small place, that any significant action has an impact on others in the community. This interconnection and interdependence is another theme of the novel, showing how individuals cannot avoid but be impacted by the community at large.
Various themes in the novel come into play at this simple dinner party; Lydgate's pride again hinders him from getting help from a trusted friend, and Rosamond's vanity prevents her from acknowledging the husband who has so lately spoken to her about money matters. Fred's jealousy over Mary and her possible regard for Farebrother rises up again; Mrs. Vincy's own pride prevents her from thinking of Mary Garth seriously, as a possible daughter-in-law. Farebrother's geniality and good-will is spread around the room, but still, there are people who are reluctant to embrace him; most notably, Fred, because of the Mary issue, but Lydgate also becomes more distant when Farebrother offers help, and begins to speak about money. Many issues involving these people are waiting to be resolved; but when they are, it is likely that their decisions will affect other people in Middlemarch, perhaps even the people they were around at the party.
Lydgate's money situation is certainly not getting any better, and Rosamond is very sour and inconsiderate whenever he mentions cutting down household expenses. He begins to resent the fact that she will not learn that they only have a limited amount of money, and cannot spend any more; she pouts like a sullen child, and acts like he has all the money in the world, he is only too mean to spend it on her. He decides that they should sell the house and the furniture, and move somewhere cheaper to live; Rosamond, of course, takes badly to this suggestion. Ned Plymdale is to be married, and Ned's mother rubs in that Ned has a lot more money than Lydgate, meaning that Rosamond was wrong to turn him down.
Rosamond decides to handle matters herself; she makes sure that the house cannot be sold to Ned Plymdale as her husband wishes, and writes his relatives for money without telling him. She tells her husband that she stopped the sale of the house, but not about the letters; Lydgate realizes that she will be unhappy if they move, and dreads that. He decides to apply to his rich uncle for money, not knowing that his wife has already done so.
One of Lydgate's problems is that he believes that life is more than everyday struggles, and attempting to make ends meet. His vision is that his life should be spent in curing diseases, making medical advances, and taking notable steps forward in his practice. Instead, he is greeted by the same backward patients, has to beg for balances to be paid in a timely manner, and worry ceaselessly about money, an issue on which his wife is less than sympathetic. Lydgate truly resents the issue of money because it is keeping him from what he thinks life is; life to him isn't worrying that your furniture will be taken if you default on a debt, or endlessly lecturing your wife about the need to cut costs. These ideas about life are part of the theme of greatness in achievement running throughout Lydgate's life, that Lydgate seems very unwilling to abandon.
The money problems that Lydgate and Rosamond are experiencing mark the start of the end of their relationship. Money is the one factor that can effectively set Rosamond's vanity and Lydgate's pride at odds with each other, thus hurting the two pillars of the relationship. Lydgate becomes almost like a thing, a strange symbol to Dorothea; he represents how her world is out of the order she wishes it to be in, and thinks that if she can just say the right thing, it will all be fine again. Lydgate, to her, is the originator and the source of all their money problems, a view that is both filled with irony, and not totally correct; he should work harder, he should ask his relatives for loans, according to her. Rosamond has never had to take responsibility for anything in her life, and if Lydgate tries to make her do so, he will become a symbol of even greater unpleasantness to her.
Eliot compares their marriage to a "delicate crystal," with that metaphor conveying the fragility, and marred beauty, of the relationship. Rosamond begins to act out of bitterness and anger toward her husband; ironically, it is his behavior which becomes inexcusable, though hers is all the more reprehensible. Her husband cares for her, though there are certain unpleasant things which must be done; Rosamond seems not to care for Lydgate one bit, as she tries to keep the house from being sold, and then defies his explicitly stated wishes. A more caring person would at least consult their spouse, and try to work out of the situation together; Rosamond's position is one of ruthless sabotage, of her husband's plans, and his pride as well. Rosamond's character is a good example of an appearance vs. reality theme at work in the book, and of the treachery that can come from greed and vanity.
Both Rosamond and Lydgate are finding out the terrible truth, that pleasant moments and occasional courtship have nothing to do with living together from day to day. Rosamond basically says to Lydgate that she married him because she imagined they would live well, with plenty of money, and be very happy that way. She dislikes almost every personal aspect of him; he is not nearly so harsh, though sometimes he can hardly stand the pressure she puts on him.
Lydgate finds out, from a letter written by his uncle Godwin, that Rosamond wrote him for money behind his back. Lydgate is enraged that Rosamond would do such a thing, and also because he was about to go to see his uncle, and may have gotten some money, rather than a complete denial. However, when Lydgate gets angry at her for deceiving him and playing him false, she does what she always doeslook pretty, shed a tear, and act with composure. Lydgate is weakened by this, meaning that he will always be in debt, and will allow his wife to be selfish, stupid, and vain, even if it means their financial ruin. Rosamond hits new lows of shallowness when she proclaims that she would rather have died in childbirth than have to give up her house and furniture.
Again, Rosamond displays the ironic view that she is to blame for nothing, simply because she has never lost her composure, and always expresses herself with the proper calmness. Rosamond is again shown as a creature of complete naivete, stupidity, and destructive stubbornness; why Lydgate prefers the desperation of financial ruin to correcting his wife's faults and thus healing the marriage, is an odd paradox which cannot be answered. Lydgate was very foolish in choosing Rosamond as a wife; and Rosamond has found someone she can manipulate and control completely, in Lydgate. Indeed, when she raves on, in a very ridiculous, self-important tone, about how he is making her life difficult, how he is responsible for their hardship, it is obvious that she is more to blame for the situation than anybody. However, Lydgate remains completely taken in, which means that he will soon be in a great deal of trouble, and the marriage will be in an even worse state than before.
Lydgate, out of desperation for money and foolish hope that some will come to him, begins to gamble. Usually this is something which he treats with contempt, but in the situation he is in, he decides to go to the Green Dragon and play billiards. He is very good at first, winning a good bit of money; Fred Vincy and a friend come in, and Fred is surprised, and displeased, to find his brother-in-law there. Fred has been working hard for six months and spending little, and figures he has a little bit to spare at gambling; but when he sees Lydgate there, he thinks better of it. Lydgate's luck changes and he begins to lose, and Fred is good enough to draw him away, and suggest that they see Farebrother, who is right downstairs.
Farebrother is there to speak to Fred rather than Lydgate; he tells Fred not to slip back into his old ways, lest he lose Mary and his position with Mr. Garth. He says that he, too, loves Mary, and that if Fred messes things up this time, he is not sure to win Mary back. Farebrother does not mean that he will steal Mary, he is simply warning Fred that he should try to deserve her, and make her happy too. Fred takes the point, and hopefully will try to be more careful and more devoted to her.
It seems that Lydgate is falling into the same trap that Fred did, only with greater need and desperation. It is likely that he will end up in the same kind of situation as well; with such need and drive as he has, he is likely to go on betting more and more until he has finally lost it all. There are other parallels between Lydgate's situation and Fred's former one; neither truly know the value of money, preferring to have faith that chance will bring them funds where more respectable means have failed. Both are acting out of a great irresponsibility, Lydgate even more so; he is already deeply in debt and, unlike Fred, does not have anyone who could possibly afford to bail him out.
Lydgate and Fred become almost reversed in this encounter; usually they are juxtaposed against each other, Lydgate as a more stern, responsible man, and Fred as a flighty youth. However, the circumstances of both men have changed greatly; they are still juxtaposed in this moment, but Lydgate has become fiercely excited, desperate, while Fred is the one who is reticent and responsible. It is ironic that the less responsible of the two would be the conscience of the situation, and that the one of them with more to lose is gambling more than he can afford. But, these reversals of fate are not unknown in Middlemarch, and will certainly happen again.
The interconnection of so many things in Middlemarch is a theme which again surfaces here; Fred's hopes and Farebrother's hopes are directly at odds for each other, and actions on either part might affect who ends up with Mary Garth. Farebrother seems to expose some of the contrary aspects of his personality; his tone becomes dark and threatening when he speaks of their conflict of interest, and how Fred could possibly foul his situation up. Mary becomes a symbol of righteousness and goodness to both of them, something valuable to be won and treasured; once Fred is reassured in this, he decides to be more considerate and disciplined so he can win her.
Farebrother seems something of a paradox for a brief moment; although he is a trusted advisor and friend to many, here he pretends that vicious self-interest has been threatening to prevail. Was Farebrother really so ready to betray as he pretends? It is not completely clear, though it is certain that Farebrother, though he is a good man, is certainly not a saint through and through.