Though described as a “black procession,” (304) Peter Featherstone’s funeral could not have been more about the green. First, one cannot overlook the fact that Featherstone has two wills, doubly emphasizing its importance in considering the subsequent action from the onset of Book IV, which happens to be titled in its title “Three Love Problems.” The conflation of Christianity and money in Eliot’s presentation of the funeral is also notable. This is not the first time that Solomon, Bible’s most lavish spender, has been alluded to in the book (280, 311) however this time he is presented alongside Eliot’s animalized masses, the “Christian Carnivora who formed Peter Featherstone’s funeral procession,” (310) suggesting that money not is not only of interest to the greediest but also the most pious and highlights once again the centrality of money to various aspects of daily life in Middlemarch.
That said, as we discussed in class bonds within a network can take several forms (familial, marital, financial, political, etc.), here we see Featherstone not only continue to manipulate his nephew from beyond the grave but also extend this pattern of dependence to both Fred’s sister Rosamond (who is now completely dependent on the wealth she incorrectly presumes Lydgate has) and the Garth family who, as a result of their proximity to Fred and his irresponsible spending habits related to his presumed inheritance, must now seek financial refuge through bondage elsewhere. The fact that Featherstone is able to remain a node within Middlemarch’s social network through his will calls into question the parameters of social network particularly when considering the living versus the dead. While one must be alive to participate in a network, it is possible for their past actions to influence others well after their death.
On a somewhat related note on the discussion of society’s beloved medium of exchange, last week I took a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where they print $1.5 billion of United States paper currency daily. I would recommend the tour (it takes about an hour) to anyone with the cost of admission in their wallet (it’s free) for no other reason than trying to lift an 80-pound stack of $20bills worth $4 million shown below.