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by George Eliot
Middlemarch Book 5, Chapter 45 Summary
This chapter jumps from one minor character to another, describing the impressions of average Middlemarchers about Lydgate's work as a doctor. Opinion is divided – most people acknowledge that he's smart, but the fact that Lydgate refuses to prescribe medicine that isn't needed makes some people distrust him. But his new-fangled methods work. He has a lot of successful cases, sometimes for patients who had gone first to a different doctor who prescribed the wrong thing. Naturally, this doesn't make him popular with the rest of the doctors in the area. So, none of the other doctors in Middlemarch will help out at the new hospital, which just means that Lydgate will have to work harder and longer hours. But that means giving up other jobs that would pay him better. The hospital is, after all, a charitable institution, and not all the patients there can pay. Farebrother and Lydgate are still good friends, and Farebrother hints that Lydgate should keep himself a little more distant from Bulstrode. Farebrother also hints that Lydgate should learn a lesson from his own mistakes, and be careful not to get into debt. (Remember that Farebrother plays cards socially, but also for money, and Lydgate disapproves of gambling altogether, especially for "petty" amounts.) Bulstrode is powerful, but not all that well liked, and Lydgate's association with Bulstrode at the hospital could hurt his chances. The chapter closes with a discussion between Rosamond and Lydgate about his work. She says she hates the medical profession, which obviously hurts his feelings. But she's just so darn cute when she says it, he can't really take her seriously. She doesn't hate medicine, really, just the fact that it keeps him busy and away from her!
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