Friday, 9 May 2014

Middlemarch watch-along: episode 2

A little note before we start the second episode recap of the Middlemarch watch-along. Hamlette let me know that her first episode was longer than mine (75 vs 60 min), but that she had 6 episodes in total, similar to me. So it looks like there are content differences between my 'European' version and Hamlette's 'American' version. Is this the case for anyone else?
I will keep doing the episode recaps according to my dvd, but please let me know in the comments if you think I'm missing any scenes that you do have, I'm very curious where the differences are!

On to the episode! Where the previous episode was about getting to know all the characters, in this episode we are introduced to some of the main themes of Middlemarch: progress vs stagnation, old vs new.

Wait, if you don't know anything about art, then why did you praise MY work?

Dorothea and Casoubon are engaged and the entire Brooke family goes to visit Casoubon at his mansion. Lowick is a bit gloomy and old-fashioned, but Dorothea is elated about everything, clearly looking forward to her new life. In the gardens of Lowick, they meet Will Ladislaw (a young Rufus Sewell), Casoubon's cousin and painter/poet/world traveler/disappointment.

Casoubon is not too fond of physical contact

Fred is visiting his sickly uncle Featherstone again and is given some money. Mary Garth scolds Fred for not finding an occupation and being serious and absolutely not planning to fall for his love declarations.

Both at Dorothea's engagement dinner and at the opening of the new hospital a speech is given about progress. It is clearly a subject which divides the residents of Middlemarch.

Lessons learned from Middlemarch # 27: don't ask your girlfriend for money

Dorothea and Casoubon honeymoon in a slightly dilapidated looking part of Rome. Casoubon spends much time at the Vatican library and when they finally do spend a day together in the Eternal City, he treats Dorothea as a child. Dorothea's dream of helping her husband do something great seems to crumble. When she spurs him on to start on his book, he scolds her for being ignorant.

With the money from uncle Featherstone, Fred buys a horse in the hopes of selling it for a profit, but as the horse is extremely wild, this plan doesn't work. Fred has no choice but to admit his debts to Mary's father Caleb Garth. Honest and kind Caleb has vouched for Fred and now has to pay off his debts. I thought this was the most powerful scene of the episode. It's clear how much Fred respects the Garth family and he is extremely humbled when he has to admit not only to Caleb but also to Mary his dire situation. Some great acting there!

Cliffhanger period drama style

Back in Rome, Casoubon and Dorothea have met up with Will Ladislaw. As Casoubon sits for a painting, Will and Dorothea have time to get to know each other and have a passionate discussion about art.

You don't like Jane Austen? You can't be serious!

Quote of the week: 

Ladislaw: 'The best piety is to enjoy when you can. It's useless to try and care about the whole world unless you allow yourself to feel some delight in it.'

Discussion question(s):

- What do you think is the difference between the way Casoubon and Ladislaw treat Dorothea?
- Do you think Mary is right in scolding Fred in stead of reciprocating his declarations of love?


  1. Okay, so in my version all the engagement stuff and the Casaubons arriving in Rome were in episode 1. The rest of what you have here is in episode 2, which was 53 minutes, except it went on through Fred getting better and to the point where Dr. Lydgate asked Rosamund to marry him. Just so you know!

    I am really confused by Casoubon, to be honest. When he first met Dorothea, he seemed genuinely interested in her ideas, delighted that she was interested in his, and seemed to desire a meeting of their minds. Now he acts like she's a bothersome child. I almost suspect mental illness... maybe some deep, dark secret? Very intriguing!

    Of course, Ladislaw treats her like an equal, like Casoubon did at first.

    I think Mary is a very sensible person -- she's now my second-fave character. I want to see more of her! I would have scolded Fred too, and probably a lot more.

    1. I think Casoubon was truly interested by Dorothea when they first met, I don't think he ever met a woman like her before. But now that they've married, he realizes he really has to share all his life with her and that scares him. He can't easily change from the bachelor lifestyle he always had.

    2. Yes, I can see that sharing is not his strong suit. He wants to do his thing and then have someone to talk to when he feels like it, not someone to help him, eh?