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by George Eliot

Middlemarch Book 1, Chapter 5 Summary

  • The chapter opens with Mr. Casaubon's letter to Dorothea, proposing marriage. It sounds very formal and official. No compliments, no flattery, and nothing lovey-dovey.
  • Dorothea likes it, though, and she's ecstatic at the idea of being able to love and serve someone who needs her help (Mr. Casaubon basically just needs a secretary). A whole new world of knowledge seems to be opening before her! Hurray, helping a crusty old scholar organize his notes!
  • Dorothea writes back almost immediately, accepting his offer in a few lines.
  • She gives her letter to her uncle to mail for her, and he expresses some surprise and concern – especially on Sir James' account.
  • Celia guesses what must have happened when she sees Dorothea blush at the mention of Mr. Casaubon's name at breakfast, but she can't believe it.
  • She decides to test her theory, and makes a few lightly insulting remarks on the way Mr. Casaubon eats his soup.
  • Dorothea cuts Celia off, and says that she's engaged to marry him.
  • Celia is appalled at the thought of her sister marrying that old man with the moles who eats his soup so noisily, but she keeps her horror to herself.
  • Mr. Casaubon comes to dinner and afterwards has a talk with Dorothea about their upcoming marriage.
  • Their wedding will be in six weeks.

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