A theme that stood out to me in this reading was the idea of prejudice, particularly surrounding Lydgate. A large part of this section was about Lydgate’s developing relationships within society as he continues with his plans for his hospital. We see more and more people in the medical community and otherwise turning away from Lydgate. He brushes off the negative reactions he gets, attributing them to others rather than to himself: “And the ignorance of people about here is stupendous… there is no stifling the offence of being young, and a newcomer, and happening to know something more than the old inhabitants” (413) and calls them “medical fogies” (430). While part of the opposition he receives might come from his differing medical practices, it does seem that the community might have a point when they talk about his arrogance, “which nobody felt to be altogether deniable” (426). I’m not quite sure where the book falls on this argument: is Lydgate right to do what he feels is best for his medical practice and disregard the gossip and prejudice that surround him, or should he adapt his social interactions to further his professional ones (would he be able to help more people if he were less arrogant by gaining more support for his hospital)?
When Ladislaw suspects Casaubon of lowering Dorothea’s opinion of him, he also reflects on the idea of prejudice: “Prejudices, like odorous bodies, have a double existence both solid and subtle – solid as the pyramids, subtle as the twentieth echo of an echo” (409). What other characters in the book make decisions based on prejudices? Was prejudice a part of Dorothea’s rejection of Chettam and Rosamond’s of her Middlemarch suitors? Is Lydgate himself prejudiced against the Middlemarch community because of his own arrogance? The book is engaging us in a discussion of the importance of the opinion of others, but I’m not sure if it gives us an answer.