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  • George Eliot '10

"There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms." - George Eliot.

George Eliot is the pseudonym adopted by Mary Ann Evans, a prominent writer during the nineteenth century. She has written many well respected novels, including the novel of our focus, The Mill On The Floss.

The Mill On The Floss, published in 1860, is a novel centered around the relationship between a brother and a sister, Tom and Maggie. The novel partially mirrors the relationship between herself and her own older brother, Isaac. Both Tom and Isaac are dearly beloved by their younger sisters, however they are both strictly commanding and firm. Both Maggie and Eliot are strong-willed, clever, and quite unconventional, that do not fit in well with their families, or with the rigid stereotype of what a girl should be at during their time period. 

This novel is revolutionary in the sense that it takes the stereotypical notion of the typical family and delves into the psychological nature of each character, illustrating that suffering from childhood lingers into adulthood and leaves traces. The painful events that occur during childhood, which are usually brushed off as unimportant or miniscule, in fact carries strong psychological relevance into late life.

Page created by: Lillian Allen-Duenas, Rebecca Brockett, Megan Dial, Thomas Hansel, Cristina Sarnelli
Topics for Discussion

1. How does Eliot entreat her readers to step out of their own egos and to think about how others feel and to sympathize with them?

2. How does Eliot challenge our conventional view of family?

3. Gender roles are a huge theme in this novel: What does Eliot seem to be communicating about the expectation for people to fit stereotypical gender roles? Focus, for instance, on reactions to Maggie's "abnormal" appearance in the story and how that seems to haunt her throughout the book.

4. There are several references to young Maggie that compare her to a horse: The way in which she tosses her hair, often referred to as a "mane" as if she were a "small Shetland pony," for instance. What is the significance of this comparison, and what could the horse analogy symbolize for this character?

5. Why does Tom not want Maggie to go to work?

6. In what ways is self abnegation obliterating oneself?

7. What is the function of sorrow in the Kempis vision?

8. How does the Tulliver's major loss effect each member of the family differently?

9. What is Philip's role in Tom's educational setting?

10. Many characters in the novel have a great deal of pride or ego to protect. Examine, for instance, the way pride affects Tom or Mr. Tulliver's decisions in their lives. What does Eliot seem to be communicating about pride in the novel?

11. Eliot is highly concerned with the use of metaphor in describing certain life events. What is the significance of these metaphors, and how do they enhance the messages in the novel?

12. How do Maggie and Tom represent a gender reversal, specifically focusing on their intelligence?

13. Compare the descriptions of Stephen's love for Lucy and his love for Maggie. How are they different, and what does this communicate about love in the Victorian era?

14. Maggie heartily expresses her empathy for Philip and his disability. How does this affect her romantic feelings toward him? Is she really experiencing true love, or does she love him out of pity?

15. What do the many allusions to water symbolize in the novel, and how do they foreshadow the end?

16. Does Maggie's final decision symbolize a growth and development of her character, or is it a sign of regression?

17. What is the significance of the conclusion in which Philip and Stephen continue to visit Maggie's grave? Why did Eliot feel the need to add a final section to the novel, rather than ending it immediately after Maggie's and Tom's deaths?

18. In what ways are Tom and Maggie unified in their death, and what does this communicate about their relationship?

Form is Content

§ Now I can turn my eyes toward the mill again, and watch the unresting wheel sending out its diamond jets of water. That little girl is watching it too; she has been standing on just the same spot at the edge of the water ever since I paused on the bridge. And that queer white cur with the brown ear seems to be leaping and barking in ineffectual remonstrance with the wheel; perhaps he is jealous because his playfellow in the beaver bonnet is so rapt in its movement. It is time the little playfellow went in, I think; and there is a very bright fire to tempt her: the red light shines out under the deepening gray of the sky. It is time, too, for me to leave off resting my arms on the cold stone of this bridge...(Eliot, Book 1, Chapter 1).

--Here, the reader is introduced to themes of childhood, home, and memory. The narrator is looking on in reminiscence toward the mill, and the "unresting wheel" is symbolic of the constant cycle of life: of death and birth, of childhood and adulthood. The contrast of the aged narrator focusing on the little girl is also symbolic of the change that humans experience throughout life, and how our sense of "home" always seems to rest in the settings and memories of our younger years. The fact that the "playfellow went in" and the narrator decides it is time to "leave" is suggestive of the idea that humans have no choice but to progress. There are always moments of longing, of nostalgia, but youth can never be fully recovered except through memory.

§ "Maggie stood motionless, except from her sobs, for a minute or two; then she turned round and ran into the house and up to the attic, where she sat on the floor and laid her head against the worm-eaten shelf with a crushing sense of misery. Tom was come home, and she had thought how happy she should be-and now he was cruel to her. What use was anything if Tom didn't love her? Oh, he was very cruel! Hadn't she wanted to give him the money, and said how very sorry she was? She knew she was naughty to her mother, but she had never been naughty to Tom-had never meant to be naughty to him" (Book 1, Chapter 4).

--This passage is especially important in foreshadowing the progression of Tom and Maggie's relationship as they age. Maggie has a sort of unexplainable loyalty to her brother, one that is stronger to her loyalty to her mother and father, and it seems her goal in life to win the affections of her brother. She aims to please him, to make him fond of her, and when she fails to do this, it is utterly heartbreaking. As the novel progresses, this passage is especially poignant in helping the reader to understand why some of the choices Maggie makes (or doesn't make) are because she is worried about her brother's reaction and whether or not her choices would satisfy him.

§ "Yet strange to say, under this vigorous treatment, Tom became more like a girl than he ever had been in his life before. He had a large share of pride, which had hitherto found itself very comfortable the world, despising old Goggles and reposing in the sense of unquestioned rights, but now this same pride met with nothing but bruises and crushings. Tom was too clear-sighted not to be aware that Mr. Stelling's standard of things was quite different, was certainly something higher in the eyes of the world than that of the people he had been living amongst, and that, brought in contact with it, he, Tom Tulliver, appeared uncouth and stupid; he was by no means indifferent to this, and his pride got into an uneasy condition which quite nullified his boyish self-satisfcation and gave him something of a girl's susceptibility" (Book 2, Chapter 1).

--A curious passage that brings into play the idea of gender and what it means to be a girl or a boy. This passage suggests that "susceptibility" is a female character trait, which furthermore suggests that girls are meant to be passive, weak, and easily swayed by emotion. Males are all about ego, trying to keep their pride inflated by proving themselves worthy; in this case, Tom feels shamed because of his difficulty with the education system he has been recently introduced to. This passage also brings into question the role of class, as Tom comes to the realization that Mr. Stelling's "standard of things was quite different." Growing up on the mill, Tom is sheltered from the outside world, and his education allows him to see that he and his family are lower on the class scale. It appears that those who are educated and more knowledgeable of the world are deemed not only more intelligent but more valuable to society. 

§ "'Maggie," said Philip after a minute or two, still leaning on his elbow and looking at her, "if you had had a brother like me, do you think you should have loved him as well as Tom?' Maggie started a little on being roused from her reverie, an said, 'What?' Philip repeated his question. 'Oh, yes better,' she answered immediately. 'No, not better, because I don't think I could love you better than Tom. But I should be so sorry--so sorry for you'" (Book 2, Chapter 6).

--This passage displays one of Maggie's major struggles throughout the novel: her conflicting feelings which include her affection for Philip and her love for her brother, Tom. It is important to note that Even Philip realizes how devoted Maggie is to Tom; she displays such a strong loyalty toward him that even outsiders notice. Maggie herself seems confused about what she wants. Her first "immediate" impulse is to tell Philip that she very well could love him better than Tom, which suggests that this is how she truly feels. However, it is as if Maggie realizes the disloyalty in her statement, taking back her initial answer because she realizes it would be a betrayal to her brother. At the same time, it is also as if Maggie realizes that she doesn't truly love Philip romantically, but rather in a more empathetical way. She emphasizes how "sorry" she feels for him, no doubt because of his disability, and here the reader sees Maggie's ever present compassion for others. Yet her fervent desire to feel sorry for others and care for others feelings constantly calls into question what it is Maggie truly feels and wants for herself.   

§ "The world outside the books was not a happy one, Maggie felt; it seemed to be a world where people behaved the best to those they did not pretend to love and that did not belong to them. And if life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?...There is no hopelessness so sad as that of early youth, when the soul is made up of wants and has no long memories..." (Book 3, Chapter 5).

--Maggie's strong sense of imagination seems to keep her from facing the world's troubles, or at least provides a means for her to escape from them. It is only when her books are removed from her home that Maggie realizes what it means to be a grown-up and suffer from the pains and "hopelessness" of loneliness brought upon by a "life with no love in it." She realizes that not everyone in the world is capable of the compassion she offers, and that people are prone to "pretending" to love others or casting people who "do not belong to them" away. Being a type of outcast herself, Maggie is troubled by her "wants" and her need to be loved because she is so often criticized and put down by members of her family. Here we get a sense that Maggie's ultimate goal in life is to feel a sense of belonging, to feel cherished by someone who is genuine about how they feel toward her.   

§ "'I wish he may do summat as they'd make him work at the treadmill! But he wont; he's too big a raskill to let the law lay hold on him. And you mind this, Tom-you never forgive him, neither, if you mean to be my son. There'll maybe come a time when you may make him feel-it'll never come to me-I'n got my head under the yoke. Now write, write it i' the Bible'" (Book 3, Chapter 9).

--Mr. Tulliver's vengeful persona and the start of Tom's "doom" is revealed in this passage. Mr. Tulliver denies any fault of his own by constantly calling Mr. Wakem a "raskill" in the lines that lead up to this passage and in the passage itself. In expressing his desire for Mr. Wakem to be forced to "work at the treadmill," Mr. Tulliver displays his frustration with the class system. As a lower class working man, Mr. Tulliver feels cheated out of his property by being bought out by someone who is more intelligent and wealthy, but not necessarily as "blue-collar" as he is. His anger turns into an impulsive revenge, and instead of taking it upon himself to execute justice (for he believes that his time to do this has passed), he uses the idea of kinship and loyalty that is constantly being brought up in the novel as an excuse for Tom to carry out the deed. By saying, "if you mean to be my son," Mr. Tulliver leaves Tom with no choice but to dedicate his life to paying off the family debt and ensuring that justice is served to Mr. Wakem. Ordering him to write an oath in the Bible also characterizes how powerful hatred can be; the juxtapostistion of anger against a sacred text that promotes goodness displays how destructive hatred can be. For Tom, Mr. Tulliver's anger creates a pathway that becmes miserable for Tom to follow, yet he follows it out of loyalty for his father. 

§ "But these dead-tinted, hollow-eyed, angular skeletons of villages on the Rhone oppress me with the feeling that human life-very much of it-is a narrow, ugly, groveling existence which even calamity does not elevate, but rather tends to exhibit in all its base vulgarity of conception; and I have a cruel conviction that the lives these ruins are the traces of were part of a gross sum of obscure vitality that will be swept into the same oblivion with the generations of ants and beavers" (Book 4, Chapter 1).

--Here we find a metaphor for Maggie and Tom Tulliver's melancholy lives. Eliot brings to life their "groveling existence," by using the dark imagery of a "dead-tinted" village, which, ironically enough, sits on the edge of a river, the cause of both characters' demise. This passge notes the utter tragedy that both characters encounter, despite the "vitality" that Tom fights with to regain his family's honor and the "calamity" that Maggie struggles with throughout her life. They, just like the ants and beavers, are sept away into "oblivion," as if their struggle was all for naught. Eliot seems to be sharing some of her own empathy for the characters trhough this passage by highlighting the idea that some people live their lives fighting failure, and in the end, fail anyway.

§ "Maggie was suffering in anticipation of what Philip was about to suffer, and dreading the galling words that would fall on him from Tom's lips; but she felt it was in vain to attempt anything but submission. Tom had his terrible clutch on her conscience and her deepest dread; she writhed under the demonstrable truth of the character he had given to her conduct, and yet her whole soul rebelled against it as unfair from its incompleteness. He, meanwhile, felt the impetus of his indignation diverted toward Philip. He did not know how much of an old boyish repulsion and of mere personal pride and animosity was concerned in the bitter severity of the words by which he meant to do the duty of a son and a brother" (Book 5, Chapter 5).

--One of many passages that displays Maggie’s compassion and martyrdom. She feels empathy for Philip because she knows her brother is about to scold him for something that is not entirely his fault, but she does not stop there. She takes it upon herself to also suffer, displaying her tendency to punish herself for other people’s problematic situations or reactions to situations. This passage once again displays Maggie’s relationship with her brother also. Tom has a "clutch" on Maggie's conscience, and her actions are motivated by her fear of what he'll think. She submits in order to avoid upsetting her brother further. This passage also reveals themes of jealousy and revenge that can be inspired by the ties to kinship: Tom hates Philip simply because it is his "duty" as "a son" to dislike him, since Philip's father is responsible for taking the mill. Furthermore, Tom feels the need to protect his sister from someone he deems a villain because she is too naive, in his opinion, to do this for herself.

§ "For one instant Stephen could not conceal his astonishment at the sight of this tall, dark-eyed nymph with her jet-black coronet of hair; the next, Maggie felt herself for the first time in her life receiving the tribute of a very deep blush and a very deep bow from a person whom she herself was conscious of timidity. This new experience was very agreeable to her-so agreeable, that it almost affected her previous emotion about Philip" (Book 6, Chapter 2)

-- In this passage, Maggie transforms from the awkward young child enthralled by puppy love, to a beautiful young woman experiencing the first hint of lust and sexuality. It is interesting to note how her hair, once noted for being a matted mess like a horse's mane, is described as a "jet-black coronet of hair." There is something newly elegant about Maggie; she becomes exotic rather than awkward, for her dark-eyes and "nymph-like" appearance captivate Stephen. There is a heightened sense of sexuality in this passage, as well. She feels a "deep blush" come over her, no doubt because she is physically attracted to Stephen, just as he is physically attracted to her. Maggie's "new experience" calls into question her affection for Philip because her relationship with Philip is based more on her compassion for him. With Stephen, however, she feels a deeper sense of desire.

§ "Some low, subdued, languid exclamation of love came from Stephen from time to time as he went on rowing idly, half automatically; otherwise, they spoke no word, for what could words have been but an inlet to thought? And thought did not belong to that enchanted haze in which they were enveloped; it belonged to the past and future that lay outside the haze" (Book 6, Chapter 13)

--Stephen and Maggie's feelings are vividly expressed through this quotation as dream-like and almost fantastical. The "enchanted haze" that envelops them, and the idea that the "past" and "future" lays outside of it communicates the idea that Stephen and Maggie are sort of trapped in a brief moment of ecstasy that they both submitted to, knowing full well the consequences of their actions. In this "idle" moment, however, consequences are not an issue. There is a strong sense of indulgence that comes through in this passage, something that Maggie has strictly restrained herself from partaking of in order to avoid hurting others. We come to an understanding that Maggie and Stephen are both happy together, yet their love is unacceptable because it is scandalous. In this sense, Maggie's ability to give up Stephen, despite the ecstasy they share here, characterizes her as a martyr; she sacrifices her wants in order to secure Lucy's happiness.

§ "It was soon known throughout St. Ogg's that Miss Tulliver was come back; she had not, then, eloped in order to be married to Mr. Stephen Guest; at all events, Mr. Stephen Guest had not married her, which came to the same thing so far as her culpability was concerned. We judge others according to the results; how else, not knowing the process the results are arrived at? (Book 7, Chapter 2)

--Here, Eliot brings up an interesting point: it is easy to judge others despite not knowing the particular circumstances they suffered. It seems Maggie cannot win in the eyes of the townspeople, as noted by the line "which came to the same thing as far as her culpability was concerned." Even though she didn't elope with Stephen, she still spent private time with him, and that is enough to condemn her. This quote condemns the sort of irrational nature in which people cast negative judgment upon others. Though we as readers know Maggie was innocent, the townspeople are blind to what happened between the characters. Interestingly enough, instead of giving her the benefit of the doubt, they automatically assume Maggie is an ungracious woman. There is also an interesting question about gender that comes into play through this line. Maggie inherits all of the blame for the incident between she and Stephen, and Stephen gets overlooked. It appears that women are held to stricter standards when it comes to sex/relationships than men.

§ "If you were not to stand by your 'kin' as long as there was a shred of honour attributable to them, pray what were you to stand by?" (Book 7, Chapter 3)

--This quote, offered by Mrs. Glegg, signifies the strong bond that family ties creates and how the utmost loyalty remains with the family. Perhaps this is the reason Maggie feels so strongly about pleasing her brother. This quote is also significant in explaining why Tom reacts so bitterly towards Maggie's misunderstood interactions with Stephen, for a person will stand by his kin as long as there is a "shred of honour attributable to them." When Tom misunderstood Maggie and Steven's encounter, he felt she shamed the family name, and therefore, he wanted nothing to do with her. This quote makes the ending of the story expecially poignant, for once Tom and Maggie put the misunderstandings behind them, they come back together, united, once again symbolizing the strong bonds of kinship.

§ "...caring for your joy and sorrow more than for what is directly my own..." (Book 7, Chapter 3)

--Eliot believed that if people could stop to have empathy for others and not think only of themselves that the world would be a better place. It is no wonder, then, that themes of empathy often surface in The Mill on the Floss, like in this quote. To "care" for someone else's feelings rather than what is "directly" hers is a characteristic that is particularly abundant in Maggie. This idea of empathy, however, does bring up questions of whether or not there is such thing as too much empathy. Given the end that Maggie meets, it is possible to argue that she almost cared too much about the feelings of others and failed to take care of her own needs. But Tom, who often lacked empathy the majority of the time, also met the same end. Perhaps this is communicating the idea that there must be a balance between empathy and self-help. Without both, Eliot seems to think society cannot progress properly.

§ "The tomb bore the names of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, and below the names it was written, In their death they were not divided." (Conclusion)

--Perhaps the most important line in the novel, "in their death they were not divided" displays the unbreakable bond between Maggie and Tom Tulliver. Despite the rocky paths they both faced in their lives, they still managed to come together in the end. It is interesting to examine the way in which Maggie and Tom were unified in their death. They both lived as martyrs, Maggie a martyr in the sense that she sacrificed her happiness in order to please others; Tom a martyr in the sense that he lived to fulfill his father's oath instead of following his personal dreams. In this sense, Maggie and Tom's death seems like a relief to the unforgiving calamity they faced. This is the only way the could find peace. It is also possible that Eliot inserted her own hopes into this line, for she was very close to her brother in childhood. Perhaps Eliot hoped that by their deaths, she and her brother could come full circle again just like Maggie and Tom, unified by the ties of kinship. 

Character List

Maggie Tulliver - Maggie is the protagonist of the novel. She is rebellious, wild, compassionate, intelligent, imagintive, curious, and impulsive. The novel follows her as she develops from a curious and spunky young child into a strong and unconventional woman. Throughout the novel, she is constantly struggling to gain her brother Tom's approval and acceptance. She is constantly struggling to gain the acceptance of other's around her. "She only wanted people to think her a clever little girl, and not to find fault with her" (Book 1, Chapter 7). "...Maggie was always wishing she had done something different" (Book 1, Chapter 6). "...her thoughts generally were the oddest mixture of clear-eyed acumen and blind dreams" (Book 1, Chapter 11). "Maggie, moreover, had rather a tenderness for deformed things, she preferred the wry-neck 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 especially fond of petting objects that would think it delightful to be petted by her. She loved Tom very dearly, but she often wished that he cared more about her loving him" (Book 2, Chapter 5). "She was fond of fancying a world where people never grew larger than children of their own age, and she made the queen of it just like Lucy, with a little crown on her head, and a little sceptre in her hand... only the queen was Maggie herself in Lucy's form." (Book 1, Chapter 7)). "'I don't enjoy the happiness as you do else I should be more contented. I do feel for them when they are in trouble; I don't think I could ever bear to make any one unhappy; and I often hate myself, because I get angry sometimes at the sight of happy people. I think I get worse as I get older more selfish. That seems very dreadful.'" (Book 6, Chapter 2). 

Tom Tulliver - Tom is Maggie's older brother. Tom is assertive, opinionated, rigid, vindictive, orderly, and has a clear sense of justice and punishment. He has strong opinions on how a family should operate and the duties that one should fulfill. He is a very logical person, deducting from his strong beliefs the best course of action. Tom also has strict views on gender roles and grows upset when Maggie will not allow him to make her decisions for her and look after her.  "Tom Tulliver was a lad of honour... he would punish everybody who deserved it: why, he wouldn't have minded being punished himself, if he deserved it; but, then, he never did deserve it" (Book 1, Chapter 5). "Tom Tulliver was quite determined he would never do anything cowardly" (Book 1, Chapter 9). "...he was a boy who adhered tenaciously to impressions once received: as with all minds in which mere perception predominates over thought and emotion, the external remained to him rigidly what it was in the first instance "(Book 2, Chapter 4). "'...the brother is just as insolent (as Mr. Tulliver), only in a cooler way... he'll break every bone in your body, for your greater happiness, if you don't take care.'" (Book 6, Chapter 8). "Tom's was a nature which had a sort of superstitious repugnance to everything exceptional" (Book 5, Chapter 5).

Elizabeth Tulliver - Mrs. Tulliver is Maggie and Tom's mother. Often referred to as "Bessy."  She is an example of what a woman "should" be in Victorian society. She is not very bright and preoccupied with household objects like linens and china. "Mrs Tulliver was what is called a good-tempered person--never cried, when she was a baby, on any slighter ground than hunger and pins; and from the cradle upwards had been healthy, fair, plump, and dull-witted' in short, the flower of the family for beauty and amiability" (Book 1, Chapter 3). "Amiable, Mrs Tulliver, who was never angry in her life, had yet her mild share of that spirit without which she could hardly have been at once a Dodson and a woman. Being always on the defensive towards her own sisters, it was natural that she should be keenly conscious of her superiority, even as the weakest Dodson, over a husband's sister..." (Book 2, Chapter 2). "...I wish (Maggie'd) had our family skin." (Book 6, Chapter 2).

Edward Tulliver - Mr. Tulliver is Maggie and Tom's father. Mr. Tulliver is very rash in his decision-making. He is very proud and believes that he is always right. He has a one-track mind, and a very bitter attitude toward life due to the hardships he has faced. Mr. Tulliver considered his mill and his land, his life. He is a figure of unconditional love, specifically towards Maggie and Mrs. Moss, his sister. "Mr Tulliver was a strictly honest man, and proud of being honest, but he considered that in law the ends of justice could only be achieved by employing a stronger knave to frustrate a weaker. Law was a sort of cock-fight, in which it was the business of injured honesty to get a game bird with the best pluck and the strongest spurs" (Book 2, Chapter 2). "' ignorant mad brute, who was within an inch of murdering me (Mr. Wakem).'" (Book 6, Chapter 8). "'I should never want to quarrel with any woman, if she kept her place'" (Book 1, Chapter 7).

Lucy Deane - Lucy is Tom and Maggie's cousin. Lucy is very pleasant, selfless, innocent, and angelic. She seems preoccupied with the well-being of others in her life. Lucy is idyllic, in childhood, she is often used as a pawn between Maggie and Tom. "Lucy Deane's such a good child- you may set her on a stool, and there she'll sit for an hour together, and never offer to get off..." (Book 1, Chapter 6). "Lucy put up the neatest little rosebud mouth to be kissed: everything about her was neat-- her round little neck, with the row of coral beads, her straight nose, not at all snubby; her clear eyebrows" (Book 1, Chapter 7). "...little blond angel-head..." (Book 3, Chapter 7).

Philip Wakem- Philip is lawyer Wakem's son. Philip is very intelligent and a quick learner. He possesses a great love for school, as well as drawing. When he was an infant, there was an accident which caused Philips back to be deformed. Due to his deformity, Philip has very low self-esteem, and is prone to fits of anger. He is often described as "womanly" due to his small size and sensitive nature.  "...peevish susceptibility...was a symptom of perpetually-recurring mental ailment-half of it nervous irritability, half of it the heart-bitterness produced by the sense of his deformity" (Book 2, Chapter 4). "'But I can’t give up wishing,' said Philip, impatiently. 'It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them. How can we ever be satisfied without them until our feelings are deadened? I delight in fine pictures I long to be able to paint such. I strive and strive and can't produce what I want. This is pain to me, and always will be pain, until my faculties lose their keenness, like aged eyes. Then there are many other things I long for...things hat other men have and that will always be denied me. My life will have nothing great or beautiful in it; I would rather not have lived" (Book 5, Chapter 1). "I love [Maggie] dearly: I shall never love any other woman. I have thought of her since she was a little girl" (Book 6, Chapter 8). 

Stephen Guest - Stephen is the son of the senior partner of Guest & Co. He is confident, handsome, and wealthy. When introduced, Stephen is courting Lucy Deane but had not yet proposed. There is always a strong physical tension between Stephen and Maggie, and he eventually falls in love with Maggie. A love that illustrates a strong, sexual attraction (which was basically taboo, and had no language surrounding it during the Victorian era). “Mr. Stephen Guest, whose diamond ring, attar of rose, and air of nonchalant leisure, at twelve o'clock in the day, are the graceful and odoriferous result of the largest oil-mill and the most extensive wharf in St. Ogg's” (Book 6, Chapter 1). "it was of no use to contradict Stephen, when once he had set his mind on anything" (Book 6, Chapter 6).

Lawyer Wakem- Wakem is the father of Philip and the rival of Mr. Tulliver. He is a lawyer, and a wealthy and powerful businessman. He holds Philip very dear, but has a strict and solid view on money and how to use it. Confident and stern, Mr.Tulliver and him have many conflicts. "He was one of those men who can be prompt without being rash, because their motives run in fixed tracks, and they have no need to reconcile conflicting aims" (Book 3, Chapter 7). ""Wakem was Wakem;" that is to say, a man who always knew the stepping stones that would carry him through very muddy bits of practice" (Book 3, Chapter 7). "He was given to observing individuals, not to judging them according to maxims, and no one knew better than he that all men were not like himself" (Book 3, Chapter 7). 

Bob Jakin - Bob is Tom's childhood friend, who possesses an outgoing, talkative, tricky demeanor. Tom and Bob have a falling out over an incident where Tom claims Bob was "cheating." Bob resurfaces when the Tullivers encounter their bankruptcy to help Maggie and Tom. When he grows up, he becomes a packman: buying goods at one establishment and selling them to another, using some degree of scamming. "...the rather broad-set but active figure...[he has] pair of blue eyes set in a disc of freckes, and pulled some curly red locks with a strong intention of respect. A low-crowned oilskin-covered hat, and a certain shiny deposit of dirt on the rest of the costume..." (Book 3, Chapter 6). "Bob knew; directly he saw a bird's egg, whether it was a swallow's, or a totit's, or a yellow-hammer's; he found out all the wasps' nests, and could set all sorts of traps; he could climb the trees like a squirrel, and had quite a magical power of detecting hedgehogs and stoats; and he had courage to do things rather naughty, such as making gaps in the hedgerows, throwing stones after sheep, and killing a cat that was wandering incognito" (Book 1, Chapter 6).

Mrs. Glegg - Mrs. Glegg is the eldest sister of Mrs. Tulliver. Therefore she is head of the Dodson sisters. She is outspoken and abrasive, never conscious of how her words affect others. She is straight-forward and honest, as well as dominant and demanding. " impartial observer could have denied that for a woman of fifty she had a very comely face and figure" (Book 1, Chapter 7). "...she despised the advantages of costume....when Mrs Glegg died, it would be found that she had better lace laid by in the right-hand drawer of her wardrobe" (Book 1, Chapter 7). "Aunt Glegg always spoke to them in this loud emphatic way, as if she considered them deaf, or perhaps rather idiotic: it was a mean, she though, of making them feel that they were accountable creatures, and might be a salutary check on naughty tendencies. Bessy's children were so spoiled--they'd need have somebody to make them feel their duty" (Book 1, Chapter 7). "She had strong opinion[s]" (Book 1, Chapter 7).

Mr. Glegg - Mr. Glegg is a passive, kind husband and man. He is a successful businessman, who is not willing to take risks but will support his family when he sees benefit for himself. "...though a kind man, he was not as meek as Moses." (Book 1, Chapter 7). "...he surprised himself by his discoveries in natural history, finding that his piece of garden-ground contained wonderful caterpillars, slugs, and insects, which, so far as he had heard, had never before attracted human observation; and he noticed remarkable coincidences between these zoological phenomena and the great events of that time..." (Book 1, Chapter 7). "Mr. Glegg had chosen the eldest Miss Dodson as a handsome embodiment of female prudence and thrift, and being himself of a money-getting, money-keeping turn, had calculated on much conjugal harmony" (Book 1, Chapter 7). 

Mrs. Deane - Mrs. Deane is the sister of Mrs. Tulliver, and is Lucy's mother. The quietest of the Dodson sisters, and very careful with her words when she does speak. “Mrs. Deane, the thinnest and sallowest of all the Miss Dodsons” (Book 1, Chapter 7). “Mrs. Dean appeared punctually in that handsome new gig with the head to it, and the livery-servant driving it, which had thrown so clear a light on several traits in her character to some of her female friends in St. Ogg's” (Book 3, Chapter 3). “Mrs. Deane, as her intimate friends observed, was proud and 'having' enough; she wouldn't let her husband stand still in the world for want of spurring” (Book 1, Chapter 7).

Mr. Deane - Mr. Deane is Lucy's father. An up-and-coming junior partner at Guest & Co. He is more preoccupied with business and making money than he is with family life. "Mr. Deane, a large but alert-looking man, with a type of physique to be seen in all ranks of English society- bald crown, red whiskers, full forehead, and a general solidity without heaviness. You may see noblemen like Mr Deane, and you may see grocers or day-labourers like him; but the keenness of his brown eyes was less common than his contour" (Book 1, Chapter 7). “No man was though more highly of in St. Ogg's than Mr. Deane, and some persons were even of opinion that Miss Susan Dodson, who was held to have made the worst match of all the Dodson sisters, might one day ride in a better carriage, and live in a better house, even than her sister Pullet. There was no knowing where a man would stop, who had got his foot into a great mill-owning, ship-owning business like that of Guest & Co,. With a baking concern attached” (Book 1, Chapter 7). "Mr. Deane had been advancing in the world as rapidly as Mr. Tulliver had been going down in it." (Book 3, Chapter 3) "... said Mr. Deane, with that tendency to repress youthful hopes which stout and successful men of fifty find one of their easiest duties" (Book 3, Chapter 5).

Mrs. Pullet - Mrs. Pullet is a sister of Mrs. Tulliver. Mrs. Pullet is the closest to Mrs. Tulliver of all the Dodson sisters. They bond over their shared love of material goods, like china and linens. "'...I don't say I haven't got as good, but I must look out my best to match it.'" (Book 5, Chapter 5). "Aunt Pullet... was much shocked at the shabbiness of her clothes, which, when witnessed by the higher society of St. Ogg's, would be a discredit to the family..." (Book 6, Chapter 6). "Mrs. Pullett's front door mats were by no means intended to wipe shoes on: the very scraper had a deputy to do its dirty work." (Book 1, Chapter 9). "Her imagination was not easily acted on, but she could not help thinking that her case was a hard one, since it appeared that other people thought it hard" (Book 1, Chapter 10).  "Mrs. Pullet had married a gentleman farmer, and had leisure and money to carry her crying and everything else to the highest pitch of respectability" (Book 1, Chapter 7).

Mr. Pullet - Mr. Pullet is a farmer, and a fairly successful one at that. Before Mr. Deane's success at Guest & Co., the Pullets were the wealthiest of the Dodson families. He is a quiet man. "...on whom the mysteries of etymology sometimes fell with an oppressive weight" (Book 5, Chapter 5). "He didn't understand politics himself thought they were a natural gift but by what he could make out, this Duke of Wellington was no better than he should be" (Book 1, Chapter 7). "Mr. Pullet was a small man with a high nose, small twinkling eyes, and thin lips, in a fresh-looking suit of black and white crvat, that seemed to have been tied very tight on some higher principle than that of mere personal ease" (Book 1, Chapter 7).

Luke Moggs - The miller for Mr. Tulliver at the mill on the Floss. He tends to Mr. Tulliver during his illness and is generally considered a member of the family. He is a good, hard worker and is very kind. “Luke, the had miller, a tall, broad-shouldered man of forty, black-eyed and black-haired, subdued by a general mealiness, like an auricula” (Book 1, Chapter 4). “I'n got to keep count o' the flour and corn – I can't do wi- knowin' so many things besides my work. That's what brings folks to the gallows – knowin' everything but what they'n got to get their bread by. An' they're mostly lies, I thinkg, what's printed i' the books: them printed sheet are, anyhow, as the men cry i' the streets” (Book 1, Chapter 4).

Mr. Riley - Mr. Riley is the auction manager in St. Ogg's. Mr. Tulliver has great respect for Mr. Riley, and values his wisdom and intelligence.  "He was a man with heavy waxen eyelids and high-arched eyebrows, looking exactly the same under all circumstances" (Book 1, Chapter 3). “Mr. Riley, a gentleman with a waxen complexion and fat hands, rather highly educated for an auctioneer and appraiser, but large-hearted enough to show a great deal of bon hommietoward simple country acquaintances of hospitable habits” (Book 1, Chapter 2).

Mr. Stelling - Mr. Stelling is a clergyman, and is also Tom's and Philip's Tutor. He is unimaginative, but intelligent and driven. "Mr Stelling was a well-sized, broad-chested man, not yet thirty, with flaxen hair standing erect, and large lightish-grey eyes, which were always very wide open; he had a sonorous bass voice, and an air of defiant self-confidence inclining to brazenness. He had entered on his career with great vigour, and he intended to make a considerable impression on his fellow-men. The Rev. Walter Stelling was not a man who would remain among the "inferior clergy" all his life. He had a true British determination to push his way in the world" (Book 2, Chapter 1).

Mrs Stelling- Mrs. Stelling is Tom's tutor's wife. She is strict and stiff, by no means warm. "Mrs Stelling was not a loving, tender-hearted woman: she was a woman whose skirt sat well, who adjusted her waist and patted her curls with a preoccupied air when she inquired after your welfare" (Book 2, Chapter 4).

Dr. Kenn - Dr. Kenn is the Minister of St. Ogg's, who befriends Maggie. He is benevolent and magnanimous."'Ah, he's a wonderful preacher, by all account...'" (Book 5, Chapter 5). "'Kenn himself said the other day, that he didn't like this plan of making vanity do the work of tragedy" (Book 6, Chapter 6).

Mrs. Moss - Mrs. Moss is the younger sister of Mr. Tulliver. She married against her brother's will and has eight children. Maggie and Tom refer to her as "Aunt Gritty." She is a loving person and pays special attention to Maggie. Her family is extremely poor. "... a large-boned woman, who had married as poorly as could be; had no china, and had a husband who had much ado to pay his rent" (Book 1, Chapter 7). "Mrs Moss did not take her stand on the equality of the human race: she was a patient, prolific, loving-hearted woman" (Book 1, Chapter 10). She was "poorly off, and inclined to "hang on" her brother, [and] had the good natured submissiveness of a large, easy-tempered, untidy, prolific woman, with affection enough in her not only for her own husband and abundant children, but for any number of collateral relations" (Book 2, Chapter 2).

Mr. Moss - Mr. Moss is the husband of Mrs. Moss. He is a poor farmer, but a very hard worker. "... a husband who had much ado to pay his rent" (Book 1, Chapter 7). “Mr. Moss, who, when he married Miss Tulliver, had been regarded as the buck of Basset, now wore a beard nearly a week old, and had the depressed, unexpectant air of a machine-horse” (Book 1, Chapter 8). “Mr. Moss... knew nothing, as he said, of the 'natur' o' mills,' and could only assent to Mr. Tulliver's argument on the a prioti ground of family relationship and monetary obligation” (Book 2, Chapter 2).

Mr. Pivart - Mr. Pivart is the Tulliver's neighbor who lives down the floss from the Tullivers. He argues with Mr. Tulliver over the river water. “The particular embodiment of the evil principle now exciting Mr. Tulliver's determined resistance was Mr. Pivart, who, having lands higher up the Ripple, was taking measures for their irrigation, which either were, or would be, or were bound to be (on the principle that water was water), an infringement on Mr. Tulliver's legitimate share of water-power” (Book 2, Chapter 2).

Kezia - Kezia is the Tulliver's loyal house servant. "Kezia was equal to the task. Having declared her intention of staying till the master could get about again, "wage or no wage," she had found a certain recompense in keeping a strong hand over her mistress... Altogether this time was trouble was rather a Saturnalian time to Kezia: she could scold her better with unreproved freedom" (Book 3, Chapter 8). “Kezia, the good-hearted, bad-tempered housemaid, who regarded all people that came to the sale as her personal enemies, the dirt on whose feet was of a peculiarly vile quality, had begun to scrub and swill with an energy much assisted by a continual low muttering against 'folks as came to buy up other folks things'... she was bent on bringing the parlor... to such an appearance of scant comfort as could be given to it by cleanliness... her mistress and the young folks should have their tea in it that night, Kezia was determined” (Book 3, Chapter 6).

Mr. Gore - Mr. Gore is Mr. Tulliver's lawyer, who represents him in his case against Wakem.  “And it was vexatious that Lawyer Gore was not more like him, but was a bald, round-featured man, with bland manners and fat hands; a game-cock that you would be rash to bed upon against Wakem. Gore was a sly fellow; his weakness did not like on the side of scrupulosity: but the largest amount of winking, however significant, it not equivalent to seeing through a stone wall” (Book 2, Chapter 2).

Mr. Poulter - Mr. Poulter is an ex-soldier and an alcoholic, who loves telling war stories. He is not very intelligent, but brings a lot of character to the schoolroom when teaching Tom. "...Mr Poulter, the village schoolmaster, who, being an old Peninsular soldier, was employed to drill Tom--a source of high mutual pleasure....He had rather a shrunken appearance, and was tremulous in the mornings, not from age, but from the extreme perversity of the King's Lorton boys which nothing but gin could enable him to sustain with any firmness. Still, he carried himself with martial erectness, had his clothes scrupulously brushed, and his trousers tightly strapped" (Book 2, Chapter 4). "But Mr Poulter was a host in himself; that is to say, he admired himself more than a whole army of spectators could have admired him" (Book 2, Chapter 4).

The Miss Guests - The Miss Guests are Stephen Guest's sisters. They are upper-class and regard themselves as so. They are represented as a clump, not as individuals. They are condescending and arrogant.  “The Miss Guests saw an alleviation to the sorrow of witnessing a folly in their Rector: at least their brother would be safe; and their knowledge of Stephen's tenacity was a constant ground of alarm to them, lest he should come back and marry Maggie... they had always thought her disagreeable... having quite as good grounds for that judgment as you and I probably have for many strong opinions of the same kind” (Book 7, Chapter 4). “The Miss Guests were much to well-bred to have any of the grimaces and affected tones that belong to pretentious vulgarity; but their stall being next to the one where Maggie sat, it seemed newly obvious today the Miss Guest held her chin too high, and the Miss Laura spoke and moved continually with a view to effect” (Book 6, Chapter 9). “The Miss Guests, who associated chiefly on terms of condescensions with the families of St. Ogg's, and were the glass of fashion there, took some exception to Maggie's manners” (Book 6, Chapter 6).


This is a black and white picture of the painting of Eliot done by Frederic Burton in 1865. At the time, Eliot declared that is would be the last painting she would ever sit for; Eliot did not particularly enjoy having her image rendered in art or photograph.[I1][1]


"But I can't give up wishing," said Philip, impatiently. "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them. How can we ever be satisfied without them until our feelings are deadened?"-The Mill on the Floss*

This is how Eliot led her life . . .

Date of Birth: Mary Anne Evans was born 22 November 1819, Warwickshire

Date of Death: 22 December 1880;  She was buried 29 December in Highgate Cemetery. Her burial was delayed because her husband was petitioning for a space in Poet's Corner, where famous English writers such as William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer were entombed, in Westminster Abbey. It was refused because she was a known Agnostic.

Father: Robert Evans

Mother: Christiana Evans, nee Pearson (married Robert in 1813)

Siblings: Two half siblings from Robert Evan's first wife, Harriet Evans, nee Poynton, who he married in 1801: Robert (1802) and Frances Lucy (1805); two full siblings: Christiana (1814) and Isaac (1816). Eliot's mother also had twin boys after her but they died a few days after birth.

Education: When Eliot was three she was sent for rudimentary education to Mrs. Moore, just down the road from her home. At age 5 Eliot was sent to a boarding shcool called Miss Lathome's in Attleborough. At age 8 she was sent to a new school, The Elms, which was considered the best school in the area of Nuneaton for young girls, under the care of Mrs. Wallington, her daughter Nancy, and Maria Lewis, who became a type of older sister for Eliot. This was a much-needed relationship for Eliot who had felt abandoned after being sent to school at such an early age. She felt that her mother had sent her away for bad behavior and reacted by trying to be the ideal child and pupil; her peers named her "Little Mama" because of her serious disposition. Eliot was very much the affection starved waif until Maria Lewis came along and nurtured her.

Marriage: Eliot's first "husband" was George Henry Lewes. They ran away to Germany together in 1854 and Eliot always referred to Lewes as her husband, as well as taking on the name Marian Lewes, but they were never legally married. Lewes had a reputation for being a promiscuous rake; when Lewes eloped with Eliot he was already married to Agnes Lewes and had several children with her, and possibly several illegitimate children with past mistresses. Eliot's reputation was forever tarnished by her affair with Lewes and she attained a public image as the exact opposite of Queen Victoria and the ideal Victorian woman. Eliot's second, but official, husband was John Walter Cross. When they were married on 6 May 1880, after Eliot had previously turned him down twice, Cross was a 40 year old banker, 20 years Eliot's junior. This was considered less of a shock; Cross, at least, was a bachelor. They were married at an Anglican Church, St. George's, in Hanover Square, London, and Charles Lewes, her "stepson" walked her down the isle. 

Children: None.

Religious Views: Agnostic. When Eliot was 22 years old her father kicked her out the house after she informed him that she did not believe in God. This along with Eliot's affair with Lewes and her lack of children was one of her three great scandals. A good Victorian woman was a God-fearing, happily married mother. As a result of her religious views her family completely cut off ties from her, and it was not until her marriage to Cross that any of her family reached out to her again. Unfortunately, the family member whom she loved the most, her brother Isaac, did not come to see her until the end; he came to her funeral.[1]

I cannot choose but think upon the time
When our two lives grew like two buds that kiss
At lightest thrill from the bee's swinging chime,
Because the one so near the other is.

He was the elder and a little man
Of forty inches, bound to show no dread,
And I the girl that puppy-like now ran,
Now lagged behind my brother's larger tread.

. . .

Till the dire years whose awful name is Change
Had grasped our souls still yearning in divorce,
And pitiless shaped them in two forms that range
Two elements which sever their life's course

But were another childhood-world my share,
I would be born a little sister there.
-Eliot's "Brother and Sister" [2]

Works Published: Scenes from Clerical Life (1856), Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1863), Middlemarch (1872), Daniel Deronda (1876), and an assortment of poems [3]

Eliot was born in this small farmhouse on the Arbury Estate.[I2][1]


The Mill On the Floss has been put on film five times. The first version was made in 1915 and another was released in 1939. The novel did not return to film again until 1965. [4]

BBC Mini-Series

The BBC mini-series, made in 1978, broke the novel down into eight episodes. The series begins with the preparation of Tom’s arrival home from school. The young Maggie has a darker complexion than the rest of her family and her hair is an absolutely wild mess, just how the character is portrayed as in the novel. Mrs. Tulliver cannot stop calling her wicked and disobedient, as she really seems to be evil, or at the very least, possessed. Maggie is constantly running off; sticking her tongue out; and stomping back to her mother after being threatened for her disobedience. The young Maggie is constantly scowling and never seems to be nice, which takes away the extreme intelligence the book gave her and completely changes the character. In fact, the audience is not shown how much intelligence she has until she runs away to the Gypsies, where she finally is given some lines right out of the novel. Even with the gypsy scene, the focus in the novel in which Maggie was connected to a constant need for books is never really shown in the series. She is shown as a child with a severe attitude problem, leaving the audience with little to sympathize with.

Once past the initial scenes and Tom’s entrance, the audience is shown more changes from the novel. Mr. Stelling acts rather rough and harsh towards Tom, as if he thinks the boy is a fool and simply a waste of time. In the novel, Mr. Stelling seemed to hold little hope for Tom’s future, but he worked with him nonetheless; in the mini-series he seems to all but hate Tom. While at the pastor’s, the audience is shown the scene in which Tom gets injured with the sword. Philip does not tell Tom directly that he will be ok, but tells Maggie so that she might tell him. Showing Philip’s compassion is central to the rest of the novel as it is key to his and Tom’s interactions as young adults. His compassion for Tom, as far as not wishing him to carry the burden of a disability as well, sets up his character as truly likeable and deserving of a good future.

Other changes create rifts so large from the novel that some of the morals and lessons of the novel are completely lost, such as in the series when Mr. Tulliver has to get a loan to pay back Mrs. Glegg instead of her forgiving him as she did in the novel. Maggie seems to like Bob Jakin as soon as he arrives to offer some money-she immediately welcomes him into the home instead of initially scorning him as she did in the novel. A much bigger difference is when Maggie goes to Tom in order to ask him to allow her to once again see Philip. However, Philip does not seem to be a friend of Stephen and Lucy’s-they do not even so much as mention him as a friend-and Maggie is not asking to see him while they are all together. She simply asks to see Philip at Lucy’s dance. Tom completely refuses to allow it, telling Maggie that he will never approve of her being in Philip’s presence.

When Maggie and Stephen go onto the boat together, Stephen is much more forceful. He does not really give Maggie a choice, only telling her that it will be a short boat ride. Instead, they go off together and Maggie falls asleep. When she returns to St. Oggs, she is scorned by Tom and goes to Bob Jakin’s to live, just as she did in the novel. When the flood scene happens, the story is twisted and distorted until it is barely recognizable. She has a brief interaction with Bob before taking off in the boat as she did in the novel; but meanwhile at the mill, the millwheel has jammed by flood debris is and about to be destroyed. Tom goes down into the water to try and un-jam it but is swept away. Maggie somehow finds him floating in the water and pulls him into the boat. They embrace, and begin floating in the boat together. After an abrupt blackout, Bob Jakin is suddenly with other men walking down the river bank. He comes across his boat and finds Tom and Maggie a few yards away, as if they had laid on the ground to take a nap, huddled together for warmth.

The last scene of the series is in the cemetery. Contrary to the novel, where two men (one with a woman) visit the burial place, the audience of the mini-series sees Philip and Mrs. Tulliver coming to pay their respects individually, completely leaving Stephen out of the final picture. The ending scene is touching as it shows Mrs. Tulliver as perhaps a bigger victim than the novel portrayed her as. [5]

BBC Movie Version

The 1997 BBC version of the Mill on the Floss keeps the story fairly accurate. The dead rabbit scene shows an early animosity from Tom towards Maggie, though it seems to set the tone for a movie long hatred that goes beyond typical sibling rivalries and quarrels. The characters are established early and are fairly accurate, but entire subplots are quick to be altered. Mr. Tulliver and Mrs. Glegg’s issue with the 500 pounds is not resolved and comes up as an increased problem later in the movie. Other small differences arise throughout the film, such as the complete omission of Maggie running away to the gypsies, Maggie not going to get Tom when Mr. Tulliver gets sick, and the Red Deeps seem to be a serious of old buildings instead of an overgrown quarry.

Many other differences are a bit more major and change the entire story. Maggie’s love of books is barely referenced, let alone focused upon. Her fascination Thomas à Kempis is never mentioned, and her worldly views based off of his work are more or less nonexistent. The novel focuses a lot on sibling relations, but the movie removes itself from focusing on such topics. Mr. Tulliver’s note of the Moss’ debt is not mentioned, let alone destroyed; and although Mr. Tulliver speaks to Mrs. Moss about being a good brother, he does not emphasize it to Tom nearly as much in the movie as he did in the novel.

The scene in the novel in which Tom injures himself with a sword was a huge building block for Philip’s character. Yet in the movie, there is no scene to define the compassionate and loving side of Philip, leaving the audience only with a bitterness that aligns him with his father’s attitude. The decision to not show Philip’s compassionate side does not make Philip as nearly likable in the movie as he was in the novel.

The movie also cuts out entire characters. This film version does not have Bob Jakin, which obviously causes major differences. Without Bob, Tom’s business with the shipments (which ends up getting him the vast majority of his money to pay off his father’s debts) is left unexplained; the audience is not told how word reached St. Oggs so quickly of Stephen and Maggie’s actions; and Maggie lives with her aunt Gritty after her return from the boat ride with Stephen.

The death scene in the movie is vastly different than the novel. Instead of trying to help anyone else in the house, Maggie simply awakens in the night by a flooded bedroom. The door is blocked, so she goes to the window, where a boat is randomly waiting for her. She begins rowing and goes to the mill. Tom is happy to see her, but to get into the boat with her he has to get out of the upper levels of the mill by using a hoist to lower himself through a trap door. The rope Tom is using breaks, and he lands in the water. In the process he becomes completely entwined in the rope, and is unable to get back to the surface. Maggie jumps in after him and they both drown as they look at each other, but they are not physically embraced as they were described as having been in the novel. The lack of a cemetery scene in the movie tells a lot about how the audience should view Maggie. The ending scene in the novel shows that Maggie was not a fallen woman and that three men loved her to the end, no matter what had happened. In the movie we see such love with her family, but we do not see the other men in her life honoring her after death. [6]

(clip of the beginning of the 1997 made for television movie: )

Image Gallery
Resources and Links


[I1] Phrood, 2005. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

[I2] Tagishsimon, 2006. Courtesy of Wikimedia commons:

[I3] Dcoetzee, 2009. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

[I4] Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

[I5] Phrood, 2005. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

[I6] Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

[I7] Phrood, 2006. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

[I8] Merchbow, 2006. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

[I9] David Stowell, 2006. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:


[1] Hughes, Kathryn. George Eliot: The Last Victorian. Great Britain: Fourth Estate Limited, 1998.

[2] Eliot, George. Poems, Volume 18. Great Britain: Estes and Lauriat, 1895. pgs. 164-170.

[3] BBC. "George Eliot." Historic Figures. Accessed 19 February 2010. <>.

[4] "IMDb Search: The Mill On The Floss." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 23 March 2010. <>.

[5] The Mill On The Floss. Dir. Ronald Wilson. Perf. Pippa Guard, Christopher Blake, Anton Lesser, Philip Locke. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1978. DVD.

[6] The Mill On The Floss. Dir. Graham Theakston. Perf. Emily Watson, James Frain, Bernard Hill, Ifan Meredith, Nicholas Gecks. Mobile Masterpiece Theatre, WGBH Boston, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1997. DVD.

All quotations from The Mill on the Floss taken from the following version: Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. United States: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.,1994.

Other resources for George Eliot or Victorian Literature:

The Victorian Web. <>.