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Encyclopedia > The Mill on the Floss
The Mill on the Floss
Author George Eliot
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. - New York
Publication date 1860
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN NA

The Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), first published in three volumes in 1860. George Eliots birthplace at South Farm, Arbury Mary Anne Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist. ... In political geography and international politics a country is a geographical entity, a territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... ISBN-13 represented as EAN-13 bar code (in this case ISBN 978-3-16-148410-0) The International Standard Book Number, ISBN, is a unique[1] commercial book identifier barcode. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... George Eliots birthplace at South Farm, Arbury Mary Anne Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist. ... 1860 is the leap year starting on Sunday. ...


Plot summary

The novel details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, a brother and sister growing up on the river Floss near the village of St. Oggs, evidently in the 1820’s, after the Napoleonic Wars but prior to the first Reform Bill (1832). The novel spans a period of 10-15 years, from Tom and Maggie’s childhood up until their deaths in a flood on the Floss. The book is fictional autobiography in part, reflecting the disgrace that George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) herself had while in a lengthy relationship with a married man, George Henry Lewes.


Maggie Tulliver holds the central role in the book, as both her relationship with her older brother Tom, and her romantic relationships with Philip Wakem, a hunchbacked, but sensitive and intellectual, friend, and with Stephen Guest, a vivacious young socialite in St. Oggs and fiance of Maggie’s cousin Lucy Deane, constitute the most significant narrative threads.


Tom and Maggie have a close yet complex bond, which continues throughout the novel. Their relationship is coloured by her desire to recapture the unconditional love her father provides prior to his death. Tom’s pragmatic and reserved nature clashes with Maggie’s idealism and fervor for experience. Various family crises, from bankruptcy, Mr. Tulliver’s rancorous relationship with Philip Wakem’s father, which results in the loss of the mill, and Mr. Tulliver’s untimely death ultimately serve to intensify Tom and Maggie’s differences. To help his father repay his debts, Tom leaves his desultory schooling to enter a life of business. He eventually finds a measure of success, restoring the family’s prior estate. Meanwhile Maggie languishes in the impoverished Tulliver home, her intellectual aptitude wasted in her socially isolated state. She passes through a period of intense spirituality during which she renounces the world, spurred by Thomas a Kempis’s Imitation of Christ.


This renunciation is tested by a renewed friendship with Philip Wakem, with whom she had developed an affinity while he was a fellow pupil with Tom. Against the wishes of Tom and her father, who both despise the Wakems, Maggie secretly meets with Philip, and together they go for long walks through the woods. The relationship they forge is founded partially in Maggie’s preoccupation with broken things, as well as an outlet for her intellectual romantic desires. Philip and Maggie’s attraction is, in any case, inconsequential due to the family antipathy. Philip manages to coax a pledge of love from Maggie. When Tom discovers her walks, however, she must renounce Philip, and with him her hopes of experiencing the broader, more cultured world he represents.


Several more years pass, during which Mr. Tulliver dies. Lucy Deane invites Maggie to come and stay with her, and experience the life of cultured leisure that Lucy enjoys. This includes long hours conversing and playing music with Lucy's suitor, Stephen Guest, a prominent St. Ogg’s resident. Stephen and Maggie, against their rational judgments, become attracted to each other. The complication is further compounded by Philip Wakem’s friendship with Lucy and Stephen; he and Maggie are reintroduced, and Philip’s love for her is rekindled, while Maggie, no longer isolated, enjoys the clandestine attentions of Stephen Guest, putting her past professions for Philip in question. In the event, Stephen and Maggie, though they try to forswear each other, allow themselves to elope, almost by accident – Lucy conspires to throw Philip and Maggie together on a short rowing trip down the Floss, but when Stephen unwittingly takes a sick Philip’s place, and Maggie and Stephen find themselves floating down the river, negligent of the distance they’ve covered, he proposes they board a passing steamer to the next substantial city, Mudport, and be married. Maggie struggles between her love for Stephen and her duties to Philip and Lucy, contracted as it were in her past, when she was poor and isolated, and dependent on either of them for what good her life contained. Upon arrival in Mudport she rejects Stephen, and makes her way back to St. Oggs, where she lives for a brief period as an outcast, Stephen having fled to Europe. Both Lucy and Philip forgive her, she in a moving reunion, he in an eloquent letter.


Maggie’s brief exile ends when the river floods. The flood is considered by some to be a deus ex machina. Those who do not support this view cite the frequent references to flood as a foreshadowing which makes this natural occurrence less contrived. Having struggled through the waters in a boat to find Tom at the old mill, she sets out with him to rescue Lucy Deane and her family. In a brief tender moment, the brother and sister are reconciled from all past differences. When their boat capsizes, the two drown in an embrace, thus giving the book its Biblical epigraph, “In death they were not divided.” // Deus ex machina describes an unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot (e. ...


Like other of George Eliot’s novels, The Mill on the Floss articulates the tension between circumstances and the spiritual energies of individuals struggling against those circumstances. A certain determinism is at play throughout the novel, from Mr. Tulliver’s grossly imprudent inability to keep himself from “going to law,” and thereby losing his patrimony and bankrupting his family, to the series of events which sets Maggie and Stephen on their way to eloping. Individuals, such as Mr. Tulliver, are presented as unable to determine their own course rationally, or forces, be it the drift of the river or the force of a flood, are presented as determining the courses of individuals for them. On the other hand, Maggie’s ultimate choice not to marry Stephen, and to suffer both the privation of his love and the ignominy of their botched elopement is a triumph of free will. George Eliots birthplace at South Farm, Arbury Mary Anne Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist. ...


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Mill on the Floss - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (115 words)
The Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), first published in three volumes in 1860.
Tom and Maggie Tulliver are a brother and sister who live in a mill beside the river Floss.
In the end, Tom and Maggie are both drowned in the river during a storm.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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