Mill on the Floss

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A novel by G. Eliot, published 1860.

Tom and Maggie, the principal characters, are the children of the honest but ignorant and obstinate Mr Tulliver, the miller of Dorlcote Mill on the Floss. Tom is a prosaic youth, narrow of imagination and intellect; Maggie in contrast is highly strung, intelligent, and emotional. Her deep love of her brother is thwarted by his lack of understanding, and she turns to Philip Wakem, the deformed son of a neighbouring lawyer, for intellectual and emotional companionship. Unfortunately lawyer Wakem is the object of Mr Tulliver's suspicion and dislike, which develop into hatred when Tulliver is made bankrupt as a result of litigation in which Wakem is on the other side. Tom, loyal to his father, discovers the secret friendship of Maggie and Philip, and forbids their meetings: Maggie reluctantly complies. After Mr Tulliver's death, Maggie visits St Ogg's, where her cousin Lucy Deane is to marry the handsome and agreeable Stephen Guest. Stephen is attracted by Maggie, and she by him. A boating expedition on the river leads to Maggie's being irremediably compromised; Stephen implores her to marry him, but she refuses. Her brother turns her out of the house, and the society of St Ogg's ostracizes her. She and her mother take refuge with the loyal friend of her childhood, the packman Bob Jakins. In the last chapter a great flood descends upon the town, and Maggie courageously rescues her brother from the mill. There is a moment of reconciliation before the boat overturns, and both are drowned.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

George Eliot (1819—1880) novelist

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