Chapters 36-38 (Times of Change)
Mr. Vincy is so upset that Fred did not inherit that he becomes severe, wanting Fred to finish university and Rosamond to break off her engagement because he is sure Lydgate has no money. Times are tough, he says, and all Lydgate does is to make enemies.
Rosamond is already planning her house, furniture, and clothes. There is gossip that Lydgate is poor, but no one tries to find out. Lydgate thinks that life will just adjust itself around his career goals. When Vincy threatens to terminate the engagement, Lydgate rushes into the marriage to protect Rosamond. Rosamond hopes to be invited to his rich uncle’s house on the honeymoon, for he is a baronet.
Parliament is dissolved, and the times are bad. There is machine breaking and unemployment. Will Ladislaw takes over a newspaper with a reform slant. Brooke sees him as a kind of radical Shelley. He takes the job to be near Dorothea whom he wants to secretly watch over.
He makes excuse to visit her, and they speak in the same animated way as before, like two flowers opening. He tells her his family background, and how Casaubon helped them when they were starving. He criticizes Casaubon’s work again. When Casaubon finds out Will has been to see Dorothea, he writes him a letter forbidding him to call again and explaining that his taking the editor position is an embarrassment to him. Will writes back saying he is going to continue, nonetheless. Meanwhile, Dorothea ignorantly urges Casaubon to make out his will to Ladislaw instead of to her, in order to redress the family injustice. Casaubon becomes very angry.
Sir James Chettham points out to Brooke that he is being ridiculed by an opposing newspaper, The Trumpet, for preaching liberalism without even bothering to help the tenants on his own estate.
Lydgate is running into debt getting married. Dorothea is unknowingly in the middle of a triangle between her husband and Will. Casaubon is becoming more and more jealous and Dorothea thinks of her life as “a nightmare.”
Meanwhile the larger canvas also shows increasing tensions as England approaches the landmark Reform Bill of 1832, in which the old landed aristocracy loses power. It is a time of unrest and change. Will is writing on the side of reform, and Brooke is standing for a Liberal seat. Even the backwater of Middlemarch feels the larger pulse.