A keepsake named keepsake

The interaction between Rosamond and Mr. Ned Plymdale (mainly page 253) caught my interest in two main ways. The first being how superficial and unsubtle Ned is, the second being its similarity to Dorothea’s past situation.

Ned is constantly focused on physical appearances and looks. He says how Rosamond is not as beautiful as the portrait on the book, and how he himself is “satisfied with his own appearance”. He sees Rosamond as being a “nice girl”, he does not divulge deeper into any of her personality or unique traits. With himself, there is no evidence in this passage of him being proud of his intellect, only his appearance and fortune to acquire the book. Even the book itself, of which he is very proud, was a “gorgeous watered-silk publication”; he thinks that this work is the “very best thing in art and literature”.

The title of the book ‘Keepsake’ is beyond obvious, and for the reader ironic, of his intentions. Ned wants Rosamond to have something to remember him by, a keepsake, so why not a keepsake entitled as such? Subtly is not his strong suit, which is also seen in that this is Rosamond’s second attempt at turning him down. She does not bluntly reject Ned, so he is not completely aware of what her thoughts on the matter, and him, were and still are.

Rosamond’s thoughts and opinions of Lydgate are similar to those that Dorothea Brooke had towards Mr. Casaubon. Both women see them as smarter than the average man, and that they intend to spread their knowledge. Unlike Lydgate, Ned Plymdale (and Mr. Larcher) “could speak on no subject with striking knowledge” (p251). Rosamond admires this quality in Lydgate, and perceives that Ned is “not one of its [Middlemarch’s] leading minds” (253). Rosamond and Dorothea are observant of more than just appearances.

 

Words I looked up in this passage: Ostensible: seeming, apparent (253); Adroit: clever, skillful (253)

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