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by George Eliot

Middlemarch Book 5, Chapter 51 Summary

  • Will hasn't heard the gossip about the codicil in Mr. Casaubon's will.
  • He hasn't been invited to Brooke's house as often as before, but he continues to work on the Pioneer for Brooke.
  • Will is afraid that they're trying to keep him away from Dorothea, and is annoyed at the thought that they suspect him of trying to seduce a rich and newly widowed woman.
  • But he continues to see Brooke at the Pioneer office, and continues to coach him on speeches and politics.
  • Brooke is as inconsistent as ever, but, with help from Will, it's not showing as badly.
  • Or so Will hopes: the time has come for Brooke to give a public speech, and he's bad enough at speaking coherently in private that everyone is nervous for him.
  • The speech starts out okay, but then Brooke starts rambling about nothing.
  • And then someone in the crowd holds up a kind of effigy, or life-sized model, of Brooke on a stick to mimic him.
  • Brooke has always been easily distracted, and the effigy pulls him even further off track.
  • The speech really goes to pot when the crowd starts throwing rotten vegetables at him.
  • Will Ladislaw and the rest of the committee that has been working for Brooke look "grim" when Brooke comes back in from his failed speech.
  • Will considers quitting his job at the Pioneer. He wants to go away and do something brilliant that will elevate him socially. He wants to put himself on a level with Dorothea and erase the social gap between them.
  • He doesn't want to go without seeing Dorothea first.
  • But then Brooke tells him that he's planning on selling the Pioneer, and therefore he won't need Will to stay on as editor anymore.
  • This is just the excuse Will needed to leave Middlemarch to seek his fortune elsewhere, but he doesn't want to leave "because they are afraid" of him.
  • He has a feeling that Brooke and his friends are trying to push him away either because of politics or because of Dorothea.

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