Wretchedness in MIDDLEMARCH

Self loves the word “wretched.” One of her UCLA Extension students used it in a writing assignment, and she thinks it is probably becoming one of her favorite words. It says so much, “wretched” does.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

She’s on p. 666 of Middlemarch. Poor Lydgate. Poor, poor Lydgate. He is riding home to his cold wife, Rosamond. She is the fairest woman in all Middlemarch, everyone considered it quite a feather in his cap when he married her, but after only a very short time, they have proved to be disappointments to each other. The cause of this disappointment and estrangement is money. Rather, the lack of it. The awful degradation of destitution. Apparently, it’s an awful humiliation. At least, it is to Rosamond.

Lydgate, after seeing a patient, returns home in a very miserable state of mind. His wife doesn’t even bother getting up to greet him, just lies on the bed, pale and still. And what does the poor man do?

He goes up to her and says, “Forgive me for this misery, my poor Rosamond! Let us only love one another.”

His wife looks at him silently, “blank despair” on her face. Finally, she tells Lydgate she will return to her parents.

“Do you object?” she asks her husband.

“Do as you like,” he replies.

She tells him she will not leave immediately. “I shall want to pack my clothes,” she says. “I won’t go till tomorrow.”

And that is all.

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