Mr. Brooke brings the news to Freshitt Hall that Will and Dorothea will be married in three weeks. Everyone is shocked and feels that Dorothea is making a second mistake. Dorothea stands strongly by her decision.
Mr. Bulstrode sends his daughters to school and prepares to leave Middlemarch. He is concerned about his wife whose suffering has been immense. She wants to give financial help to Rosamond before they leave, but Lydgate had returned Bulstrode’s check, thanks to Dorothea. The only thing they can think to do is give Stone Court to Fred, so he can marry Mary.
This is the winding up in which all the threads have been unraveled. Dorothea has gained her own independent life, only to give it away once more, but to a worthier man.
We learn of the afterlife of the young couples. Fred and Mary are happy and stable at Stone Court as farmers. They have three sons. Fred writes a pamphlet on farming, and Mary writes a book from Plutarch’s Lives for her children. Lydgate dies at the age of fifty, having given up his dream of research, and instead becoming physician to the rich in London. He has four children, and a life insurance policy. Rosamond remarries a rich man after his death. He had once called her his “basil plant” referring to the story of the basil plant that was planted on a murdered man’s brains. Will became a public man, working with the new reforms and elected to Parliament. Dorothea is no more than wife and mother, but her ardent nature is like an underground stream that feeds those around her: “for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unheroic acts.”
The Finale completes the Prelude. Dorothea is the St. Theresa of her day, forced to express herself by the constraints of the present time. Yet her heroism is nonetheless important to the world.
In the Finale, we have a reference again to the two types of women. Rosamond is a type of murderer, like Madame Laure. Dorothea is a life-giving stream. They represent the two extreme choices of all of us.