Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Mill on the Floss

Date of Reading: 24/02/2007
Author: George Eliot
Abridged by: Betty McCulloch
Publisher: Collins
Place: Glasgow
Year: 1974

          Dorlcote mill is located on the bank of river Floss. Mr. Tulliver, the owner has two children - Tom and Maggi. This is their story. Mrs. Tulliver has belonged to an upper-class family and has three sisters -- Mrs. Glegg, Mrs. Pullet and Mrs. Deane.
          Tom is sent to Mr. Stelling for further studies where he is later joined by Philip Wakem. Philip's father is a lawyer and is in constant rivalry with Mr. Tulliver. When Maggi visits Tom, she makes a firm friendship with Philip.
          When Tom was 16, his father loses a case to Wakem and consequently loses his property. A compromise is made and Tulliver is made the manager of the mill; Tom is forced to work hard to pay off their other debts. Meanwhile the affinity between Philip and Maggi grows into love, and against the wishes of her father and brother, she secretly meets with him; and together they go for long walks through the woods. Tom discovers this soon enough and he makes Maggi promise that they won't meet again without his permission.
          Mr. Tulliver dies; Maggi goes to work as a teacher on a distant place. Lucy Deane, her rich cousin, invites her home to spend time so that she can make her entrance to the aristocratic world. Maggi manages to withdraw her promise from Tom but he won't agree to a marriage. On Philip's compulsion, his father sells the mill to Mr. Deane and thus it comes to the hands of Tom eventually.
          Complication arises when Stephen Guest, Lucy's lover falls in love with Maggi; and on the occasion of being thrown together in a boat alone, he persuades her to elope with her, but Maggi refuses on account of her relation with Philip and returns to shore. But Tom along with others, suspects that something has indeed happened and Maggi lives a brief period as an outcast, Stephen having fled to Holland.
          Then comes the flood as a deus ex machina; Maggi takes a boat and rowes towards home to save Tom. In a brief tender moment the brother and sister embraces and they die together. Stephen and Lucy marries but Philip remains alone. He visits the tomb of the siblings where it is written: "In their death they were not divided".

Rating: Excellent

--- Story is based partly on Eliot's own experiences with her family and her brother Isaac. Like the character Maggi, she was disorderly and energetic and did not fit to the picture of usual women, causing her family a great deal of trouble.
    By the time this work was published, she has earned much notoriety through her living with the writer George Henry Lewes, who was married, though separated from his wife. Her brother might be the most offended.
--- this is one of the first novels to consider the lives and problems of middle class.
--- book is adopted for film in 1997, starring Emily Watson, Cheryl Campbell and James Frain.


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