Monday, May 7, 2012

The Mill on the Floss

As you can see, The Mill on the Floss is written by Mary Ann (Marian) with the pen name of George Eliot. (1819-80).

The novel is a sharp and observant picture of English rural life and a profoundly convincing analysis of a woman's psychology.

The Mill on the Floss is a novel that tackles the complexities of morality versus desire.

From Chapter No. 2, School Time:

{when 12 years old Maggie met her brother's (Tom) class fellow(Philip), three years older, who got deformed because he had an accident in his young age and became hunchback}.

Maggie, moreover, had rather a tenderness for deformed things, she preferred the wry-necked lambs because it seemed to her that the lambs which were quite strong and well made wouldn't mind so much about being petted, and she was specially fond of petting objects that would think it very delightful to be petted by her.

From Chapter No. 5, Wheat and Tares:

{when Philip (21) try to persuade Maggie (18), to continue her meeting with him alone since due to the sudden fall and bankruptcy of her father made her family living on small ground and the condition where Maggie stopped school and has nothing to read since all the books of her father's library has been sold out. Philip gave her the hopes that he can bring her books and can be her teacher if she likes, also he told her that he couldn't find a friend like her since no one likes him the way Maggie had due to his deformity, while both knows that its the Philip's father who made her family bankrupt.}

'You seems to think more of painting than anything now, Philip?'

'Perhaps I do,' aid Philip rather sadly; 'but I think of too many things - sow all sorts of seeds and get no great harvest from any one of them. I am cursed with susceptibility in every direction and effective faculty in none. I care for painting and music; I care for classic literature, and mediaeval literature, and modern literature; I flutter all ways and fly in none.'

'But sure that is happiness to have so many tastes, to enjoy so many beautiful things when they are within your reach,' said Maggie musingly. 'It always seemes to me a sort of clever stupidity only to have one sort of talent - almost like a carrier-pigeon.'

'But, dear Philip, I think we are only like children that someone who is wiser is taking care of. Is it not right to resign ourselves entirely, whatver may be denied us? I have found great peace in that for the last two or three years, even joy in subduing my own will.'

'Yes, Maggie,' said Philip vehemently; 'and you are shutting yourself up in a narrow self-delusive fanaticism, which is only a way of escaping pain by starving into dullness all the highest powers of your nature. Joy and peace are not resignation; resignation is the willing endurance of a pain that is not allayed, that you don't expect to be allayed. Stupefaction is not resignation; and it is stupefaction to remain in ignorance, to shut up all the avenue by which the life of your fellow men might become known to you. You are not resigned; you are only trying to stupefy yourself.'

Maggie's lips trembled; ....
and she continues...'I was never satisfied with a little of anything. That is why it is better for me to do without earthly happiness altogether...I never felt that I had enough music, I wanted more instruments playing together, I want voices to be fuller and deeper.'

'Maggie,' he said in a tone of remonstrance, 'don't persist in the wistful, senseless privation. It makes me wretched to see you benumbing and cramping your nature in this way. You were so full of life when you were a child; I thought you would be a brilliant woman - all wit and bright imagination. And it flashes out in your face still, until you draw that veil of dull quiescence over it.'

'Philip, how dare you shake me in this way? You are a tempter.'

From Chapter No. 7, The Final Rescue:

(when Maggie received a letter from Stephen - her cousin's fiance, who love her at first sight and made her elope with him but Maggie soon after the same night came back leaving Stephen behind unhappy although she cared for him too but her faithful nature forced her to denounce Stephen love forever, however by the time she came back to her home, everyone knew of her elopement. Her brother Tom asked her to leave the house and she started living with her family friend Bob, and started a governess job but her employer though a kind man forced by the people asked her to leave the job) 

But soon other words rose that could find no utterance but in a sob: 'Forgive me, Stephen ! It will pas away. You will come back to her.'

She took up the letter, held it to the candle, and let it burn slowly on the hearth. Tomorrow she will write to him the last word of parting.

'I will bear it, and bear it till death...But how long it will be before death comes ! I am so young, so healthy. How shall I have the patience and strength? Am I struggle and fall and repent again? Has life other trials as hard for me still?'

(And then there is the storm which sweep away everything with it, even the remonstrance between the brother and sister and Maggie somehow on boat struggled to get Tom and he as the elder brother at last understand how Maggie always loved him and the final bolt of water killed both of them.)

Near that brick grave there was a tomb erected very soon after the flood for two bodies were found in close embrace, and it was visited at different moments by two men who both felt that their keenest joy and keenest sorrow were forever buried there.

One of them(Stephen, finally married to Lucy) visited the tomb again with the sweet face beside him - but that was years after.

The other (Philip) was always solitary. His great companionship was among the trees of the Red Deeps, where the buried joy seemed still to hover like a revisiting spirit.

The tomb bore the names of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, and below the names it was written,

In their death they were not divided.


  1. Although critics rank Middlemarch as George Eliot’s best work but my personal favorite is THE MILL ON THE FLOSS. And the summary that you have put up has revived the memories of this very intense and emotionally rich novel.

  2. hmm...I second you Dar Sahib...

    I like Mill on the Floss better then Middlemarch. have brought the childhood memory. Thanks !