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by George Eliot

Middlemarch Book 5, Chapter 52 Summary

  • Mr. Farebrother has gotten the news that he'll have the living at Lowick, and is celebrating with his mother, his aunt, and his sister.
  • His sister tells him that he should marry now that he'll have a higher income, and suggests Mary Garth as a good choice.
  • Farebrother doesn't say that he wouldn't like to marry Miss Garth, but just makes a joke about how it doesn't follow that any young woman he asked would like to marry him.
  • After all Farebrother is pushing forty, and Mary Garth is only about twenty.
  • Fred Vincy shows up a few days later as Mr. Farebrother is doing some last-minute packing for the move to the Lowick parsonage.
  • Fred has been educated to be a clergyman, but he doesn't want to be a parson – he wants to be a farmer or something. He doesn't think he's serious enough to preach.
  • Plus, he confides to Mr. Farebrother, he's in love with Mary Garth, and knows that she's dead set against his being a minister because she doesn't think he's fit for it.
  • But he doesn't see anything else to do, and he needs a job.
  • So, he asks Mr. Farebrother to speak to Mary for him. If she's not going to marry him one way or the other, he might as well say "screw it" and become a clergyman, whether she approves of it or not.
  • Mr. Farebrother isn't exactly happy about this mission, since he's in love with Mary himself. But he agrees anyway.
  • He goes to see Mary, and she tells him that she would never marry Fred if he were a clergyman, because he would make a mockery of the profession.
  • Farebrother asks if she would marry Fred if he had a different profession, but Mary doesn't want to promise to marry him until he's done something with his life.
  • Suddenly Mary realizes that Farebrother has a thing for her, too, and feels sorry for him, even though he hasn't said anything to her about it.
  • But she's loved Fred her whole life and, even if she never married him, could never love anyone else.
  • And she says so to Mr. Farebrother, and he leaves to report back to Fred.

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