Study Guide

Middlemarch Book 2, Chapter 16

By George Eliot

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Book 2, Chapter 16

  • Lydgate and various other Middlemarchers are having dinner at the Vincys' house.
  • The subject of who would be the chaplain of the new fever hospital comes up at dinner.
  • The matter will be decided by a vote from the board of directors, and Lydgate remarks that stuff like that is too often decided by popularity, instead of by who's the best person for the job.
  • After dinner, Rosamond and Lydgate have a chat in the drawing room about music and such, and then Rosamond is called upon to sing to the whole group.
  • Mr. Farebrother arrives just as a lot of the group is about to sit down to play whist (whist is a card game kind of like bridge or spades – played with four people, and often with bets).
  • He's a threadbare, unmarried forty-year-old vicar.
  • Lydgate likes him, but doesn't like that he plays whist for money.
  • The truth of the matter, though, is that Mr. Farebrother needs the money that he makes at cards to help support his old mother and aunt, who live with him.
  • Lydgate leaves the dinner party convinced that he's not actually in love with Rosamond – after all, he doesn't have enough money to support a wife, and he has his career to consider.
  • Rosamond, though, is thoroughly convinced that Lydgate must be in love with her (everyone else within a thirty-mile radius is), and is obsessed with the idea of marrying him and visiting his fancy relatives.

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