Saturday, April 08, 2006

Three Love Problems

I'm having trouble counting.

Eliot is, I think, a careful writer. So why is Book IV "Three Love Problems," not simply "Love Problems"?

I count:
1. Mary and Fred. Fred had expected something from the will and that Mary could not then refuse him, but the will doesn't go his way. Mary meanwhile feels responsible for this. The two of them don't even interact in this book. I guess this qualifies as a love problem.

2. Dorothea and Casaubon. There's disagreement over duty to Will, not to mention misunderstanding, lack of communication, jealousy — does that really count as only one problem?

(Oh, but Casaubon is an ugly man. By the way, here's clarification on Casaubon's capacity for jealousy, at the end of chapter 37: "Poor Mr. Casaubon was distrustful of everybody's feeling towards him, especially as a husband. To let any one suppose that he was jealous would be to admit their (suspected) view of his disadvantages: to let them know that he did not find marriage particularly blissful would imply his conversion to their (probably) earlier disapproval. It would be as bad as letting Carp, and Brasenose generally, know how backward he was in organizing the matter for his "Key to all Mythologies." All through his life Mr. Casaubon had been trying not to admit even to himself the inward sores of self-doubt and jealousy. And on the most delicate of all personal subjects, the habit of proud suspicious reticence told doubly.")

There's Ladislaw's problem: love for a woman beyond his reach.

There's also the question of Lydgate's financial prospects and the possibility of ending his engagement to Rosamond, but neither party in question sees it as a real problem; it's more a temporary glitch, no matter what may be foreshadowed by these sentiments.

So that's less or more than 3 love problems, depending. Did Eliot mean simply to show that there were problems in each of the 3 main threads, even if they're somewhat unbalanced and not in the least like each other?


Anonymous rachel said...

You know, there's WAY more than two temptations in "Two Temptations" too. I'm beginning to suspect our author of innumeracy!

For the three love problems, I was thinking she either meant the problem in each of the three threads, or she meant the three corners of the Casaubon-Dorothea-Will triangle (which is not the only love triangle in the novel -- there are at least three of those, but they are not all in evidence in this segment, so I won't name names).

10:52 AM  
Blogger Raehan said...

For this segment, I'd say Rachel's explanation of a love triangle makes the most sense. Fred and Mary don't play a role here.

But here is foreshadowing of a problem with Lydgate and Rosamond because of his job. And also Mary....who despite her plain, "brown" appearance attracts quits a few. "There's something about Mary."

11:12 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

I'm wondering if Mr. Farebrother will ever pursue his attraction to Mary in more than an avuncular way. He can marry, can't he, as clergy? I know he's set in his ways, but if that's something he's reminding himself about, it seems he's fighting his instincts. I agree, Raehan-- there is something about Mary.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

I wondered that about Farebrother too. However, I was under the impression he's somewhat older, so the idea was just a bit ewww. There is a reference (a bit later on, I think) to him being about 40ish (which isn't THAT old, I guess). It seems he fights his instincts regarding pretty much all aspects of his own life.

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

I am finally starting this book, so I will have to pay special attention to this! Once you get going it is hard to put Middlemarch down!!!

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