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Shvoong Home>Books>Novels & Novellas>The Mill on the Floss Review

The Mill on the Floss

Book Review   by:Orlando     Original Author: George Eliot
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The Mill on the Floss tells the story of Maggie Tulliver, the daughter of a miller in Victorian England. Like many heroines of Victorian literature, Maggie feels stifled by the society she lives in and turns to literature and scholarly activity as an outlet for her restricted intelligence that must struggle to survive the phallocentric nature of the world she inhabits. Maggie is extremely close to her older brother, Tom, who is Maggie’s intellectual inferior but nevertheless has more options in life because he is a boy. Because her family finds their daughter increasingly difficult to understand, she turns to the son of a lawyer, Philip Wakem, who is deformed but who understands her intellectual passion. However, tragedy strikes and Maggie finds herself in the undeserved position of “fallen woman” when she refuses the proposal of Stephen who was engaged to her cousin Lucy. There are only a few people she can turn to for sympathy but her brother, to her extreme distress, will have nothing to do with her as he is bound by the pervasive social code that he cannot see beyond. The novel, then, deals with the themes of gender and the struggles women had to contend with if they were unwilling to follow the path expected of them, namely to be a devoted wife and mother. It addresses the cruelty of social and religious mores that, if not adhered to, had uncompromising results for those who chose or simply found themselves outside of their boundaries. The novel’s tragic ending can be interpreted in many ways and readers have been debating it since the novel was written. The novel is one of George Eliot’s most popular and is still enjoyed by readers today. While women are undoubtedly better off today than they were in the Victorian era, there are still many prejudices in society that destroy those who are the victims of them. The Mill on the Floss, then, is as relevant now as it was when it wa first published.
Published: August 30, 2005   
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