The second last chapter of book 4 of Middlemarch is stylistically uneven, spatially squeezed, and full of ugly feelings. These features coalesce around an elaborate refusal of sympathy for Joshua Rigg. I suggest that the compulsive reiteration of his otherness, his fixed obtrusiveness and his superfluity, which results in a narrative insistence on distancing Rigg from Middlemarch and Middlemarch, points to an underlying sense of imperial dis-ease and anxiety about the business of empire. These ugly feelings can be traced back to Dorothea's reaction to her mother's jewellery in chapter 1 and to the longer history of imperial violence that provides the Brookes and Dorothea's son with a secure sense of entitlement.

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