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?