Middlemarch: Chapters 63-67

Chapters 63-67  (Lydgate’s Tragedy)

Farebrother knows of Lydgate’s financial problems and offers him help, but in his pride, Lydgate brushes him off. Lydgate tries to find a buyer for his home and furniture, a gesture which makes Rosamond feel humiliated. Without her husband’s knowledge, she writes to Lydgate’s rich uncle, the baronet, for help. Lydgate is shocked and frustrated by his wife’s selfishness and his inability to communicate the seriousness of their situation. The uncle refuses and rebukes Lydgate for not being man enough to write himself. Rosamond and Lydgate each bitterly blame the other, but they reconcile. Lydgate is afraid of pushing things too far; he wants his wife’s love but realizes she will never respect his work or be a thrifty helpmate.
Lydgate tries alcohol and opium but is too upright to become addicted. The idea of gambling tempts him. Fred finds him and pulls him from a billiard game. Fred has been working hard for Garth but has retained some of his bad habits. Farebrother warns him that he will lose Mary’s love. Fred sees the danger and changes.
Lydgate’s only chance is to ask Bulstrode for a loan. Bulstrode refuses and tells him to declare bankruptcy. Bulstrode also withdraws his support from the hospital. Everything Lydgate has worked for crumbles.
While Fred’s life is slowly improving through his love for a good woman, Lydgate’s is going down because of a selfish woman. Eliot believed that the woman behind the man was important. Women may not have political power, but they hold the moral power of the world in their hands.
Lydgate is truly the most tragic hero of the book. We see his swift decline after his imprudent marriage, a course he cannot change. There are verbal and thematic echoes of Paradise Lost in the story of Rosamond and Lydgate, when they bitterly blame each other, and walk hand in hand, like Adam and Eve, out of the garden after the fall.
All Lydgate’s brilliance and plans for research have no validity in this scenario. It is even sadder, when, like Dorothea, he tries and tries to adjust to his partner, but gets no return from her. She is a true egoist who cannot imagine another’s feelings and who equates social appearances with the good. He is caught in the trap of having to dance to her tune, for she is incapable of compromising.