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The Mill On The Floss By George Eliot

1813 words - 7 pages

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

It is said that George Eliot’s style of writing deals with much realism. Eliot, herself meant by a “realist” to be “an artist who values the truth of observation above the imaginative fancies of writers of “romance” or fashionable melodramatic fiction.” (Ashton 19) This technique is artfully utilized in her writings in a way which human character and relationships are dissected and analyzed. In the novel The Mill on the Floss, Eliot uses the relationships of the protagonist of the story, Miss Maggie Tulliver, as a medium in which to convey various aspects of human social associations. It seems that as a result of Maggie’s nature and of circumstances presented around her, that she is never able to have a connection with one person that satisfies her multifaceted needs and desires. Maggie is able, to some extent, to explore the various and occasionally conflicting aspects of her person with her relationships between other characters presented in the novel. “From an early age, Maggie needs approval from men...Maggie is not shown in any deep relationship with a female friend.” (Ashton 83) A reader can explore into Maggie Tulliver’s person and her short development as a woman in four primary male associations: her father—Mr. Tulliver, her brother—Tom Tulliver, her friend and mentor—Philip Wakem and her dangerous passion with Steven Guest.

Maggie unconditionally loves her father although he has been the unconscious root of many of her misfortunes. “Tom’s and Maggie’s young lives are blighted by the gloom, poverty, disgrace and death of their father...Maggie is obliged by her father’s failure to leave school...It is the misfortune of a clever girl denied any activity other than domestic.” (Ashton 50) In the time period of the setting of the novel, women were regarded as male property, to take care of household matters and without skill, originality and intelligence of a man. Mr. Tulliver cared deeply for his daughter’s future but inadvertently oppressed Maggie through his views of women. This idea is represented in his dialog with Mr. Riley of Maggie’s “unnatural” intelligence: “It’s a pity but what she’d been then lad—she’d ha’been a match for the lawyers, she would. It’s the wonderful’st thing.” (Eliot 68) Mr. Tulliver by nature was stubborn, opinionated and led his family to disgrace as a result. However, there is a close bond between him and Maggie for which he had always protected her and favored her over Tom, as much as would permit in that age. Maggie always felt a responsibility to please her father and to never cause him any grievances. She was loyal to him at times that he seemed to not return her affection “How she wished that [her father] would stoke her head, or give her some sign that he was soothed by the sense that he had a daughter who loved him!” (Eliot 371) When her father was in the lowest point of self-ruin and was under the scrutiny of the family, Maggie took upon the position of the...

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