He announces that he plans to stay in Middlemarch. Dorothea reports this information to Casaubon. The news greatly distresses him. He believes that Will feels contempt for him. Without telling her, Casaubon writes Will requesting that he leave Middlemarch, because he feels his chosen profession reflects badly on him. Dorothea asks Casaubon to leave half his wealth to Will upon his death to make amends for the disinheritance of his grandmother. Casaubon orders her to cease interference in his relationship with Will. He suspects Will and Dorothea are conspiring against him. Meanwhile, Will writes to state that he will not leave Middlemarch. Casaubon forbids Will to come to Lowick again.

Commentary

It is significant that everyone in Dorothea's home can watch Featherstone's funeral even though they are not in attendance. This demonstrates that privacy is extremely difficult to maintain in a small community like Middlemarch. They comment at great length on those who attend the funeral from a vantage point from which they themselves cannot be seen. An individual can never be sure who may be watching, so secrets are difficult to keep.

Featherstone's final defeat is ambiguous. He fails in his attempt to do what he wants at last by burning one of his wills. However, Fred learns of a large inheritance bestowed by the first will only to have it revoked by the second. Featherstone's mercurial, manipulative nature continues jerking Fred's chains from the grave. He displays his wealth with a lavish funeral only to bring a largely neglected, illegitimate son out of the woodworks and leave everything to him. Hiding his son until his death allowed him to dangle an inheritance in front of his nephew's nose for years. Fred himself was a tool to manipulate and antagonize his other relatives. Featherstone promises Fred a light and comfortable future only to tie a heavy stone to all his dreams.

Featherstone enabled Fred's own unsteady, careless attitude towards money and debt. His powerful influence in numerous other lives owes to his wealth more than it does to his family name. His relatives manipulate familial obligations to justify their claims on his wealth and estate, but obligations aside, the name matters less than the money. The rise of the middle class in 1830s England signals the preeminence of money as a tool of power. Aristocratic power structures, based on family name and noble lineage, are beginning to give way to a power structure governed by financial influence.

Rosamond's marriage prospects are affected deeply by the financial misfortunes of her male relatives. Fred's disappointment affects her plans to marry. Her father cannot afford to help her and Lydgate, because he must pay for another year of college so that Fred can become a clergyman. Fred's disappointment means that Rosamond's support depends solely on her husband. Conventional gender roles place women in a vulnerable position. Rosamond has never been educated or prepared to support herself, nor even been educated to think about money. She has only vague notions of Lydgate's income. She just assumes that he is wealthy because he has aristocratic relations. Her only notion about money is that it will be provided when she wants or needs it. When Fred doesn't receive a large inheritance, her father investigates Lydgate's finances. He never discusses the matter with Rosamond herself. The decisions regarding a woman's support in this situation essentially take place between men.

Moreover, social convention also places the final decision regarding a woman's marriage in the hands of her father or male guardian. Mr. Brooke wanted to allow Dorothea the choice of her two suitors. However, Dorothea owes the freedom of that choice to Mr. Brooke's decision to allow her to have it. Will Ladislaw's grandmother married the man of her choice against her family's wishes. In retaliation, they disowned her and cut off all financial support.