Study Guide

Middlemarch Book 4, Chapter 40

By George Eliot

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Book 4, Chapter 40

  • The Garths are all seated around the table in the kitchen after breakfast.
  • Mary and her parents are reading through the mail – two of the letters are for Mary, offering her teaching jobs at boarding schools for girls.
  • Mary's not all that happy about going to teach at a school in far-away York, but the pay is good and she wants to support herself and her younger siblings.
  • But one of the other letters is from Sir James Chettam, who writes on behalf of Mr. Brooke, asking Caleb if he would be interested in managing the Tipton estate like he used to, along with the Chettam estate.
  • Caleb's family is ecstatic – they'll be able to send Christy to school after all, in spite of Fred's debt, and Mary won't have to go teach in York.
  • Just then Mr. Farebrother comes by for a visit. He says that Fred sent him to say goodbye, since he's going away for a while and is too ashamed about the debt to say goodbye in person.
  • But the Garths tell Mr. Farebrother about Caleb's new jobs at Tipton and Fres***t, and say that Fred's debt hardly matters anymore.
  • Mr. Farebrother leaves, wondering whether there might be something between Mary and Fred besides being childhood friends. He feels a little bit jealous – he has a soft spot for Mary Garth.
  • Meanwhile, Caleb Garth informs Mrs. Garth that he's thinking about asking Fred to come work for him.
  • He'll need an assistant now that he has all these estates to manage, and he thinks Fred could do a good job if he put his mind to it.
  • The chapter closes with a short discussion of the fact that Mr. Bulstrode has been in contact with Joshua Rigg (now Joshua Rigg Featherstone), the man who inherited Mr. Featherstone's estate, about the possibility of purchasing Stone Court.
  • Apparently Bulstrode has wanted to get his hands on a piece of good property in Middlemarch for a while.

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