About the novel
Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot. Before moving to literary analysis of themes in Mill on the Floss, we need to know few vital points.
This novel is also believe to be an autobiographical story of George Eliot. Eliot has also faced almost same hardships that character of Maggie went through.
The literary themes of childhood, women’s role, tolerance and ignorance present in this novel by Eliot.
Literary analysis of themes in Mill on the Floss
Role of Women
When we look at the protagonist of the novel, who is Maggie Tulliver, she is a rebel sort of girl since the beginning. Her relatives says that she does not appear or act like a lady, she is totally opposite.
Maggie is a girl who speaks herself, cuts her hairs short, and loves to read. She is often compared with her cousin Lucy who is a perfect epitome of Victorian femininity. Lucy do not speaks her mind rather acts obediently and she appears pretty as well. These are qualities that were essential in any Victorian woman back then.
After growing up, Lucy and Maggie gets to experience the society in a very different way. Lucy was into obeying the social norms. On the other hand, Maggie refused to adhere with all the restrictions that society imposes on any woman. This turns out to be a hectic situation for Maggie and she was rejected by her society.
This difference between the nature of these two women shows that Victorian society has a decided pattern according to which they want woman to perform.
Maggies was continuously under taunts for her dull appearance or unclean dress. Whereas, everyone used to praise Lucy for her neat looks and clean dress. This proves that, those people were more interested in appearance of the women instead of her talent or capabilities. They wanted to be pleased by seeing beautiful and dill like women around.
Maggie was observing the treatment with her since her childhood. She could see that her brother was allowed to have an education and a tutor comes to teach him. Maggie cannot get the same eductaion because she is a girl.
While, she was only educated about not to speak more than she is asked or how to manage a household. She was been prepared to be a good wife and mother, although, she was an intelligent lady.
Maggie’s mother also treated her in as second in her life when she says that she will give her best tablecloths to Tom. She was given the leftovers only.
Back in the Victorian society, women did not have any identity of their own. At one point, Mr Wakem says that we know women whom they belongs to neither as what a women does. This sounds so infuriating. Mr Wakem, the lawyer also tells his son that he cannot marry Maggie because they have a long term quarrel with Tullivers. Although, Maggie did not do anything in this matter, but just because her family men were involved in it, she had no say in it.
These are some of the inequalities that women had to face during the Victorian era. George Eliot has developed her novel around the theme of women’s role so correctly and protested against this ill-treatment.
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