Study Guide

Middlemarch Book 2, Chapter 22

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Book 2, Chapter 22

  • Will is at dinner with Mr. Casaubon and Dorothea, and is making himself charming to everyone because he's in a good mood.
  • Mr. Casaubon mentions that they'll be leaving Rome in a few days, so Will encourages him to take Dorothea to visit a few artists' studios.
  • Dorothea wants to go, so Mr. Casaubon agrees, and Will promises to go with them the next day.
  • They visit Naumann's studio the next morning.
  • Naumann pleases the heck out of Mr. Casaubon by asking to sketch his portrait to use in a painting of St Thomas Aquinas.
  • Of course Casaubon is delighted to be a model for a saint – he's not used to having people compliment his looks, since most people (like Celia) can't see past his crusty oldness and his moles.
  • After having softened Casaubon by sketching him first, Naumann asks if he could paint Dorothea as Saint Clara, and of course she agrees.
  • Will doesn't like seeing Naumann arrange Dorothea's gown and posture for the painting, but he does think that she looks fit to be worshipped as a saint.
  • Casaubon and Dorothea return the next day for Naumann to finish their portraits.
  • The day before they're scheduled to leave Rome, Will decides to visit Dorothea in the middle of the day, when he knows Mr. Casaubon will be out.
  • He hates being indebted to Mr. Casaubon, because it makes him feel that it's unfair and ungrateful to dislike him.
  • Dorothea doesn't know that Mr. Casaubon was jealous the last time she saw Will alone, so she's happy to visit with him.
  • She's trying to decide what cameos to buy for Celia, and Will helps her decide.
  • The subject turns again to Mr. Casaubon's work – Dorothea is still distressed by the idea that Will put in her head before, that Mr. Casaubon's work has already been done.
  • Will defends what he'd said before, but softens it a bit so that it won't upset her so much.
  • Mr. Casaubon, Will says, is behind the times.
  • Will then adds that he plans to return to England and work for himself, so that he won't have to rely on Mr. Casaubon's charity anymore.
  • Dorothea admires his independence.
  • Then they say goodbye, and Will says several impassioned things about how much he hates the idea of her being entombed at Lowick (the name of Mr. Casaubon's mansion, if you'd forgotten).
  • Dorothea is totally unsuspicious of the crush Will is developing, and she just takes his words as kindness.
  • So they say goodbye.
  • Will sees Mr. Casaubon on his way out of the hotel, and they say goodbye, too – but rather less warmly.
  • Mr. Casaubon isn't happy that Dorothea saw Will alone, but doesn't say so.
  • Dorothea tells him about Will's decision to work for himself, thinking that it will make her husband happy, but Mr. Casaubon doesn't seem to care.

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