Dorothea summons Lydgate to discuss her involvement in the hospital. He tells her not to depend on him to manage the hospital, as he may have to leave town. Dorothea states her belief in his innocence and says that she wants to clear his name. Her support touches Lydgate deeply. He tells her that he must consider Rosamond's happiness, so he is disposed to leave Middlemarch. She offers to speak with Rosamond to show her that they are not completely abandoned.

Dorothea decides to take over Lydgate's debt to Bulstrode. She sets out to visit Rosamond with a check for one thousand pounds. She encounters Will Ladislaw clasping Rosamond's hands. Rosamond has been crying. Dorothea recalls all the gossip concerning Will's relationship with Rosamond, so she departs abruptly. She considers Lydgate's marriage troubles under a new light, and she is ready more than ever to be his champion.

Will knows exactly what Dorothea thinks. He is shattered at the loss of her good opinion. Rosamond tries to touch his coat sleeve, but he angrily shakes her off. She sarcastically tells him to go after Dorothea. They quarrel, and Will leaves her home in a huff. Later, Rosamond collapses sobbing into Lydgate's arms. He doesn't know the cause of her depression.

Will returns to the Lydgate home later. Lydgate informs him that Rosamond is ill. He tells Ladislaw that his own name is included in the present scandal. Will says that he wouldn't be surprised if everyone thought he conspired with Raffles to kill Bulstrode. He doesn't tell Lydgate that he refused Bulstrode's money, because Lydgate is under suspicion for accepting it.


The lives of wives are deeply affected by their husbands' social status. Just as in financial matters, however, Rosamond and Harriet Bulstrode are kept in the dark about everything. The scandal is a fairly petty, provincial kind of scandal. The only truly dramatic element to all of it is the suspicion of murder. The scandal is, in short, not particularly extraordinary. However, various players in the drama experience moments of extraordinary dignity and courage. Lydgate struggles with his duty to his intractable, yet extraordinarily fragile wife. His determined courage to face the scandal head-on, despite the slow blackballing occurring against him, is admirable. He realizes the full weight he has taken on with marriage. He must consider the vulnerable position Rosamond occupies as his wife.

His moral nature, which drives him to help the shattered Bulstrode out of the town meeting, demonstrates that Lydgate has learned a great deal about the social web. He offers a moment of dignity to a destroyed man at significant social cost to himself. It is an admirable sacrifice, considering his weak moment when he voted for Tyke.