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Mill on the Floss

tulliver, maggie, author and george

MILL ON THE FLOSS, The. This novel, by George Eliot (Mrs. Marianne Evans Cross), published in 1860, was the second of the long novelS of the author, being preceded by the various 'Scenes from Clerical and the novel Bede.' It was favorably received on publication and the opening parts, particularly those dealing with the childhood of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, are commonly re garded as among the best work that George Eliot ever did, but the last of the three vol umes as originally published was regarded less favorably, largely because of some artificiality of episode and treatment.

In many respects The Mill on the is the most personal of the author's stories. In depicting the heroine she drew to some ex tent from her own experience, and many of the characters in the book are drawn from people in her own family. The central idea is char acteristic of the writing of the author. It is the hopelessness of the attempt of a person of given temperament to accommodate herself to unsympathetic conditions. Maggie Tulliver, a young woman of unusual sensibility and al wa)'s seeking for happiness, grows up among plain, hard, matter-of-fact people and narrow surroundings. Her volatile temperament causes numerous misunderstandings with her robust and sturdy young brother, Tom, as notably in her forgetting to feed his rabbits during his absence. His partisanship in the feud that had

wrecked the fortunes of the Tulliver family and brought about the ruin and death of his father thwarts Maggie's growing love affair with Philip Wakem and later on condemns her for her lack of fairness and firmness in the somewhat artificial episode of Stephen Guest. Meanwhile she has sought consolation in read ing The Imitation of Christ,' but this, like her family and friends and her affectionate nature, proves a fragile reed. The author, apparently despairing of any possible outcome under such conditions for the happiness of Maggie Tulliver or for her finding even a satisfactory place in the world, drowns her along with her newly-reconciled brother in a somewhat supererogatory flood. The desire of the author was apparently to push the tempera ment to an inevitable conclusion but the real problem was to account for Maggie had she remained normally alive. The factitious ele ments which have been spoken of are out of keeping with the general tendency of George Eliot's work, which is to analyze and account for the development of character under less accidental conditions of life. The life of George Eliot by her husband, J. W. Cross, should be referred to.