Passages of interest: Love shaping a man

I noticed a theme of “love shaping a man” on page 564:

Caleb: “The lad loves Mary, and a true love for a good woman is a great thing, Susan. It shapes many a rough fellow.”

Then again on 676, when Mr. Farebrother thinks: “To think of the part one little woman can play in the life of a man, so that to renounce her may be a very good imitation of heroism, and to win her may be a discipline!”

Because I particularly like Mary, I am appreciative of how much sway she has simply by being herself and standing her ground (rooted in common sense and the respect of good parents). Fred certainly needs a lot of shaping, but Mary is up to the task.

This contrasts with Rosamond (and I remember that scene where the two of them are starkly contrasted in Featherstone’s house–Rosy all fair and elegant, Mary brown and direct (112-6). Rosamond is also trying to shape her husband, but not by being a good woman and requiring him to meet her standards, but by manipulating and ignoring or disobeying his orders. Her relationship with Lydgate does not encourage either of them to be their best self.

I want to explore this idea of love shaping individuals into the idea of progress. The right relationships lead to personal progress, but in Rosy and Lydgate’s case, egoism still stands in the way. Is this too much of a stretch? Thoughts?



Waiting for Death: Mr. Casaubon

“He had reflected that in taking a wife, a man of good position should expect and carefully choose a blooming young lady…. On such a young lady he would make handsome settlements, and he would neglect no arrangement for her happiness: in return, he should receive family pleasures and leave behind him that copy of himself which seemed so urgently required of a man…. He had not yet succeeded in issuing copies of his mythological key; but he had always intended to acquit himself by marriage” (278).

“He had not had much foretaste of happiness in his [unmarried] life. To know intense joy without a strong bodily frame, one must have an enthusiastic soul. Mr. Casaubon had never had a strong bodily frame, and his soul was sensitive without being enthusiastic: it was too languid to thrill out of self-consciousness into passionate delight; it went on fluttering in the swampy ground where it was hatched, thinking of its wings and never flying. His experience was of that pitiable kind which shrinks from pity, and fears most of all that it should be known: it was that proud narrow sensitiveness which has not mass enough to spare for transformation into sympathy, and quivers thread-like in small currents of self-preoccupation or at best of an egoistic scrupulosity. And Mr. Casaubon had many scruples” (279).