Dorothea's anger and disappointment dissipate. She resolves to see Rosamond again. Lydgate consents to allow Dorothea to take over his debt from Bulstrode. Dorothea tells Rosamond that she, Farebrother, Sir James, and Mr. Brooke all support Lydgate wholeheartedly. Rosamond bursts into hysterical crying. Dorothea comforts her and counsels her to cling to her husband. Rosamond tells Dorothea that she is wrong to think badly of Ladislaw. She tells her that Will has done nothing wrong. She hints that Will loves another woman. Lydgate and Rosamond reach an uneasy peace.
Rosamond informs Will that she has cleared his name with Dorothea. He engages Miss Noble to speak to Dorothea on his behalf. The kind little woman asks Dorothea if she will consent to speak to Will. She consents. Will tells her that Bulstrode offered him money, but that he refused. However, he still must suffer the gossip about his parentage. People say that he is the grandson of a thieving Jewish pawnbroker. They kiss, but Will declares sorrowfully that they can never be married. Dorothea replies that she cares nothing for her wealth and that her heart will break if they must part. She has a sufficient income from her deceased parents and Mr. Brooke. They become engaged. Sir James reacts with anger, partly because he dislikes Ladislaw and partly because he wants his son to inherit both Tipton and Freshitt. Dorothea decides to go to London and live with Will Ladislaw.
Bulstrode prepares to leave Middlemarch. He doesn't want to sell Stone Court. He asks his wife if there is anything she would like him to do. She asks him to do something for Lydgate and Rosamond, but Bulstrode tells her that Lydgate has refused any further service from him. He tells her that Garth once planned to manage Stone Court in order to place Fred there. Since Garth declined to do business with him, he tells his wife to ask Garth to enter into an agreement with her.
Garth approaches Mary to see if she still wants to marry Fred considering the scandal concerning his uncle Bulstrode and his brother-in-law, Lydgate. She says that she still loves Fred, and that there has been no change in her plans. He tells her of the offer he has received from Mrs. Bulstrode. Fred is delighted at the news. He and Mary plan to marry shortly after he settles into Stone Court.
Fred and Mary settle into a solidly happy marriage and have three sons. They never become rich, but they manage comfortably. Lydgate leaves Middlemarch and sets up a successful practice elsewhere. He still considers himself a failure and dies at fifty. His marriage never becomes a peaceful or wholly happy arrangement. He never has anything but praise for Dorothea, which continually arouses Rosamond's jealousy. Rosamond later marries a wealthy physician. Will Ladislaw becomes an ardent public man working for reforms. Dorothea remains happy in her position as wife and mother. Dorothea's son inherits Tipton Grange.
In the end, Dorothea lives up to the Prelude's prediction. In an extraordinary moment of courage, she returns to see Rosamond a second time. Rosamond herself rises above her vanity and selfishness. She puts aside her own jealousy to tell Dorothea the truth. This means giving up her entertaining fantasies about Will and herself. It is the first time that Rosamond does not act according to her own personal desire, but out of consideration for someone else.
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