Casaubon’s Obession

Casaubon’s allowance of collaboration in his work signifies an acceptance with mortality, and a transference of the acidic obsession which slowly eats away at his and Doretha’s mind.

“This is the first step in a sifting process which I have long had in view, and as we go I shall be able to indicate to you certain principles of selection whereby you will, I trust, have an intelligent participation in my purpose”. (447) In the events leading to his death, Casaubon has become a self destructive force of torment, in keeping with one of his first assertions “I feed too much on the inward sources; I live too much with the dead.”(16) In his jealously, the feeding turns literally on himself. “Thus his intellectual ambition which seemed to others to have absorbed and dried him, was really no security against wound-least of all against those which came from Dorothea.” (391)  Dorothea’s yearning for thoughtful intellectual engagement had been the strongest draw to Casaubon since the beginning of their acquaintance, when the notion of their marriage first enters her thoughts. She seeks a knowledge: “she wanted to justify by the completest knowledge; and not live in a pretended admission of rules which were never acted upon…the union which attracted her was one that deliver her from her girlish subjection to her own ignorance,” (27)

Their final interaction of intimacy comes from the reading aloud, which played a crucial component to the beginning of their connection. “She had the very considerate thought of saving my eyes” (60). This final return to familiar patterns signifies a final attempt at connection before departing, which makes the reader aware of how drastic the change of emotional tone has become between the two. Dorothea is in distress, suspicious of “the conjecture of some intention on her husband’s part which might make a new yoke for her.” (449) Gone are the words of liberation

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