Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sir James

"Sir James never ceased to regard Dorothea's second marriage as a mistake." Gina and I discussed this briefly by email a couple weeks ago, but I think it's worth opening up for discussion here.

Chapter 54:
Indeed, Sir James shrank with so much dislike from the association even in thought of Dorothea with Ladislaw as her possible lover, that he would himself have wished to avoid an outward show of displeasure which would have recognized the disagreeable possibility. If any one had asked him why he shrank in that way, I am not sure that he would at first have said anything fuller or more precise than "that Ladislaw!" — though on reflection he might have urged that Mr. Casaubon's codicil, barring Dorothea's marriage with Will, except under a penalty, was enough to east unfitness over any relation at all between them. His aversion was all the stronger because he felt himself unable to interfere.

A few pages later, James is still stewing over it: "To his secret feeling there was something repulsive in a woman's second marriage, and no match would prevent him from feeling it a sort of desecration for Dorothea." Desecration! My, what a strong word.

Eliot delves a bit deeper in Chapter 84:
The mass of his feeling about Dorothea's marriage to Ladislaw was due partly to excusable prejudice, or even justifiable opinion, partly to a jealous repugnance hardly less in Ladislaw's case than in Casaubon's. He was convinced that the marriage was a fatal one for Dorothea. But amid that mass ran a vein of which he was too good and honorable a man to like the avowal even to himself: it was undeniable that the union of the two estates — Tipton and Freshitt — lying charmingly within a ring-fence, was a prospect that flattered him for his son and heir.

Which of these factors do think plays the largest part? Does he still hold a torch for Dorothea? What do you make of the James and Celia's marriage?

Or is it really all about his sense of what's proper? His stance is, we're told in the Finale, the one Middlemarch at large took.

James is obviously a product of his upbringing. Do you see anything admirable in him?


Blogger piksea said...

I wasn't a fan of Sir James. I thought he was sort of wishy washy and shallow. He only cared about helping people because it made Dorothea happy. He was so easily led by Mrs. Cadwallader. I think he was just sour grapes because Dorothea found her true love and it wasn't him.

1:24 PM  

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