"The Mill On The Floss" is a novel that was written by George Eliot (the pen name of author Mary Ann Evans) and published in 1860. The novel was originally published in three parts. It was very successful and was adapted into a film as early as 1937. It was Eliot's second novel and one of her most successful of all time.
The novel tells the story of the Tulliver family and their wild, unruly daughter Maggie who live at Dorlcote Mill on the Floss river. Maggie considers her older brother, Tom her best friend and the two get along well. However, Tom's school mate Philip meets Maggie one day and begins to fall in love with her. The Tulliver's father, Mr. Tulliver soon makes a bad investment with Philip's father, and the family goes bankrupt. Mr. Tulliver makes the children promise never to see Philip again. Tom manages to make some good business decisions and returns the family to their former glory while Maggie must contend with Philip and her cousin's suitor, Stephen who has also fallen in love with her.
However, Stephen does not take the rejection well and spirits Maggie away against her will to the next town over. After accidentally getting lost on the way home, Maggie returns five days later and the entire town assumes that she has been despoiled. Tom throws her out of the house and Maggie is sent to live with her aunt. But soon there is a great flood in the town and Maggie bravely takes to a small boat to paddle to the Mill to save her brother. Tom is so touched by her loyalty that he forgives her right before the boat capsizes and the two siblings drown in the flood waters.
The narrator of the story, who is not named, opens the book by standing on a bridge overlooking the Floss River which sits next to Dorlcote Mill. She watches a little girl play with her dog and watches the Mill. Decades later, the narrator dozes in her armchair and dreams of that afternoon. She decides to tell the story of what Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver were talking about inside Dorlcote Mill that afternoon. This is where the proper story truly begins as we're taken back in time to Dorlcote Mill and Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver's house.
Mr. Tulliver tells his wife that he wishes to send their son, Tom for an education so that he might one day become a lawyer. Mrs. Tulliver does not object outright but does not agree either. She wishes to have her sisters over for dinner to add their input on the subject, but this angers Mr. Tulliver who does not want their advice. The couple continues to argue, and Mr. Tulliver mentions his only impediment for sending Tom away—that he worries that the boy is a bit slow. He laments that their daughter, Maggie is the clever one out of the two. Mrs. Tulliver argues that Maggie is a "wild thing" who is messy, absentminded and has dark coloring that makes people mistake her for being black. She wishes that her daughter looked more like her beautiful cousin, Lucy Deane.
Just then, Maggie storms into the room and tells her mother that she refuses to help work on the patchwork for Mrs. Glegg whom she does not like. Maggie's father only chuckles at this and walks away. Mr. Tulliver speaks to his friend, Mr. Riley the next day about Tom's schooling and Maggie overhears this. She rushes to her father and begs him not to send Tom away. Tulliver comforts his daughter and brags to Mr. Riley about her intelligence. Maggie wishes to earn Riley's respect but Riley does not seem willing to give it. Riley recommends a tutor for Tom in the form of a parson named Stelling and talks the man up although the narrator tells the reader that he only does so because he wishes to do a favor for Stelling's influential father-in-law.
Maggie becomes upset and runs up to the attic. She has a doll that she imagines is someone who vexes her and she regularly abuses with beatings. Maggie soon begins to feel better and runs outside to join her dog, Yap in greeting her brother as he returns home from school. Maggie goes into the Mill and speaks with one of her father's workers, Luke. She tries, unsuccessfully to get Luke to widen his reading but Luke feels that reading will only get him into trouble. Maggie goes to visit Luke's wife at his house and becomes distracted by paintings depicting the parable of the prodigal son.
Tom returns home soon, and Maggie delights in her brother's company. The two go fishing out in the woods and promise that they will always be together.
However the narrator informs the reader that this will not come to pass and that the lives of these children will change soon. Mrs. Tulliver begins preparing for the visit of her sisters. Her sister, Mrs. Deane's opinion is of particular importance to her since Mrs. Tulliver thinks of her daughter Lucy as one of her own, she enjoys the girl so much. Mrs. Glegg, another of Mrs. Tulliver's sisters, arrives first and as she is a stingy woman she begins reproaching her sister for what she sees to be an extravagant household immediately.
Mrs. Pullet arrives next, crying over the death of an acquaintance. Mrs. Tulliver takes her sisters to admire a new hat although Mrs. Glegg scoffs a this. Mrs. Glegg also picks on Maggie's appearance. Mrs. Deane arrives with Lucy. Maggie gets so fed up with everyone commenting on her unruly hair that she drags her brother upstairs to cut it. Tom does not want any part of her scheme, and she cuts it herself, making it look bad. It takes a while for Maggie to be coaxed down to dinner and when she comes down the women of her family are horrified by her butchered hair while the men are amused.
Over dinner, Mr. Tulliver announces his plans for Tom's education. Mrs. Glegg is skeptical about the plan and the two fight about it until Mrs. Glegg leaves. Having recently borrowed money from the Gleggs, Mrs. Tulliver reminds her husband that night that her sister may demand the money back now because of Mr. Tulliver's attitude. Mr. Tulliver decides to ride that night to Basset to see his sister, Mrs. Moss and her husband and ask for the money that he loaned to them.
The Mosses are poor and live on little means. Mr. Tulliver tells himself to be firm in asking for the money, but his resolve weakens when he sees his sister and she kindly asks after Maggie. But Mr. Tulliver speaks to Mr. Moss and demands that he find a way to come up with the money as he does not like the man. But after leaving, Mr. Tulliver relents and returns to their house to comfort his sister and ask her to come up with some of the money if she can.
The next day while the children are playing outside, Maggie becomes jealous of Lucy and shoves her into the mud. For this, Tom slaps Maggie. Lucy returns to the house and Maggie panicked, decides to run away. She assumes that she can go into town and join a band of gypsies. Maggie does find a band of gypsies and asks the women if she can join them. The women sit her down by the fire and remove her bonnet and the contents of her pockets. Maggie finds this rude and refuses to eat food with them. When the male gypsies return to the camp, one of them decides to take her home. On the way, they bump into Mr. Tulliver who is looking for her and he rewards the gypsy man with five shillings.
When they get home Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver fight again but Maggie never hears of the incident again. Mr. Glegg manages to convince his wife not to demand the money she has loaned her sister back and the two talk about the folly of the Tullivers as they enjoy their evening.
Mrs. Pullet arrives later to speak with her sister and the two talk about how they would like to see Maggie sent away to boarding school. However, a letter soon arrives from Mr. Tulliver telling Mrs. Glegg that he will have her money paid back to her within the month. Mrs. Glegg is insulted by this, and the family's relations suffer as a result. Mrs. Glegg does not return to visit the Tulliver's again until Tom leaves for school in August. Tom quickly finds that he does not enjoy Mr. Stelling's tutoring and that he finds the parson mean and condescending. He is happy to return home at Christmas
When Tom returns to school the next year he is joined by another boy, Philip Wakem, the son of a local lawyer whom Mr. Tulliver has had bad dealings with. Philip has a serious birth defect, a hunchback that he has been teased for all of his life. This has made him a quiet and shy boy who is slow to make friends. However, Tom soon notices that Philip has a talent for drawing and the two begin to become closer however they do suffer some fights. Philip is more intelligent than Tom and thus they do not have lessons at the same time. But teaching a better student does settle Mr. Stelling, who starts leaving Tom alone more. The local schoolmaster, Mr. Poulter arrives to teach Tom as well and Tom enjoys the man's war stories. He begs Mr. Poulter to let him borrow his sword to show Maggie and Mr. Poulter finally agrees after being paid five shillings.
Maggie comes for a visit to Mr. Stellings, and Tom shows her the sword. However, while they are playing around with it Tom accidentally drops the sword, and it lands on his foot. Tom faints and Maggie screams loud enough to bring Mr. Stelling rushing into the room. Tom is laid up with an injured foot for a while. He fears that he will be handicapped for life. Being handicapped himself, Philip fears for Tom and asks Mr. Stelling if he will be alright. He learns that Tom is going to be fine and tells him so. After this, the boys and Maggie begin to spend more time together.
It is during this time that Maggie and Philip kiss and she tells him that she will never forget him. Mr. Tulliver comes to pick Maggie up, and she tells him about Philip. He warns both her and Tom that the boy has too much of his father's blood in him and not to get too close. After this Tom and Philip begin to grow apart again.
Several years pass as Tom continues his schooling to the age of sixteen. Maggie is sent away to boarding school with Lucy Deane. Maggie does not see Philip again, but she senses that he and her brother are no longer friends. Mr. Tulliver engages in another lawsuit with Philip's father and loses, going bankrupt after which he takes a bad fall from his horse and suffers some brain damage. Tom and Maggie return home to an uproar. The bailiff has already arrived to kick them out of the house. They find Mrs. Tulliver upstairs crying over her fine items. She does not want to lose her things and fears that she will be sent to the workhouse.
Mrs. Tulliver's sister's arrive again and she urges them to buy her fine linens so that she wont lose them. Mrs. Deane and Mrs. Pullet buy only what they intend to keep and Mrs. Glegg urges her sister to focus more on necessities. The sister's ask for Tom and Maggie to be brought in so they can scold them and warn them that they will have to work now. Maggie becomes angry but Tom manages to keep her calm. However, after Tom gently suggests that the sister's pay off his father's debt to save themselves the disgrace, Maggie becomes angry again and tells her aunts to stay away if they don't intend to help. The aunts take this outburst as confirmation that Maggie is a wild thing and will never be respectable.
Mrs. Moss arrives, sympathetically and sadly informs her brother that, with eight children to feed, she still cannot pay off her debt. Mrs. Glegg suggests that they should sue her and at this Tom interjects, saying that his father told him that the Mosses should never be forced to pay off the loan.
Mr. Glegg suggests that he and Tom find the note for the loan and destroy it and Mrs. Moss is grateful.
When they go to search Tulliver's room, he wakes briefly and asks for his wife. Mr. Tulliver tells Tom that he needs to get back at Wakem if he ever has the chance. He tells his family that he is dying, but the narrator tells the reader that he is not yet dying and that his death is to be a "long descent under thickening shadows." Tom attempts to go to his uncle Deane for a job but is turned away as he is too young and inexperienced. However, later Deane finds Tom a warehouse job. Tom dislikes this job but knows that he must keep it at to feed his family. The house sells as well as the Mill and all of the family's furniture, but they are still bankrupt.
Mrs. Tulliver decides to take matters into her hands and goes to Lawyer Wakem to urge him not to buy the Mill. However, she accidentally manages only to convince him to do so by listing several reasons why it would be prudent. He decides to buy the Mill and keep Tulliver on as manager as he knows it will humiliate the man that Wakem has done something so charitable towards him. Tom and Maggie try to explain to their father what is happening but he is still ill, and his memory is gone. But when Mrs. Tulliver accidentally reveals that Wakem has bought the Mill, her husband is even more upset.
Tulliver begins walking outside in the fresh air and recovers a bit. He struggles with his current situation and his hatred for Wakem but promises his wife that he will try to make amends. Tulliver insists that he will never forgive Wakem but that he will work with him and try to be civil. He signs a vow saying this in the family bible.
The Tulliver household becomes morose and lonely for a while after this. Mr. Tulliver becomes single-minded in his quest to pay off his debts and turns into a miser, and Tom follows his lead. Maggie feels separated from both men and no longer feels any love for them. They make money but only very slowly and realize that it will be a while before they can pay their debts. Maggie reads a book that tells her to renounce her self-love for focusing on the sufferings of others. She takes this to heart and begins serving somewhat of penance. This makes her more graceful, but her old spirit remains and she takes it a little too far. Lawyer Wakem and Philip come for a visit, and Maggie rushes out to meet them so that her father will not see.
Several days later, Philip visits Maggie again, alone and tells her that he feels it is their duty to repair the relationship between their families. He asks her to meet with him now and again, telling her that their meetings would be his only source of happiness. Maggie refuses initially but agrees to hold off her decision until they meet again. Philip is sad as he assumes that she has never considered the possibility of marrying him and feels that she is the only woman in the world that would overlook his deformity.
Tom begins a new business venture with an old friend. He sells muslin and other fabrics to ladies which begins netting him profit quickly. He does not tell anyone else in the family but quietly begins saving up money. Maggie meets Philip again and tells him that they cannot meet again and he agrees but asks that she spend some time with him before leaving. She poses for him to draw a picture of her. Philip tells her that denying herself what she wants to see to other's suffering is foolish and the two argue. Eventually he offers her a suggestion. He will continue to take walks in the woods and if they bump into each other, so be it. Of course, she agrees and a year passes with the two meeting regularly in the woods. Maggie finally realizes that Philip is in love with her and is shocked, reevaluating their whole year together. He asks if she loves him and Maggie says that she does but that they cannot tell anyone however she leaves the meeting very happy.
The next day Aunt Pullet visits and the conversation turns from Lucy's Deane's beauty and accomplishments to her seeing Philip Wakem scrambling out of the woods. Maggie blushes at this announcement and hopes no one notices. However, Tom notices and remembers their mother scolding Maggie for walking in the woods. He refuses to believe the two things could be related but confronts Maggie and questions her. Maggie explains everything and says that she is in love with Philip. Tom makes Maggie swear on a bible never to meet with Philip again. She insists that she be allowed to say goodbye to him and Tom goes with her to the woods to see him one last time.
Tom argues with Philip who insists that he is in love with Maggie. After they leave, Maggie accuses her brother of enjoying her punishment, and he reminds her that he is doing everything he can for their family while she seems determined to bring them disgrace. Tom leaves for work and Maggie goes to her room to cry, but the narrator reveals that she has a "certain dim background of relief in the forced separation from Philip."
Three weeks later Tom finally manages to make enough money to pay off the Tulliver's debts and announces it to the family. Mr. Tulliver is so happy that he begins crying. Tom tells him that he is to meet the creditors tomorrow and Tulliver is pleased that Wakem has probably heard of this.
The next day, Tom makes a speech and strengthens his father's pride in him.
On the way home alone, Mr. Tulliver meets Wakem in the street, and the two get into a fight. Wakem's horse throws him, and Tulliver begins beating Wakem with a riding whip. Maggie rushes from the house to stop her father and Wakem screams that Tulliver will pay for what he has done.
Tom returns home triumphantly but becomes upset again when he hears what has transpired that evening. Tulliver has another spell and returns to bed. The next day he is ill again, and a doctor is sent for.
Tulliver makes Tom promise that he will return the Mill to the family and take care of his mother and sister. He then says that he does not forgive Wakem and soon passes away. Maggie and Tom weep in each other's arms.
In the next part, Lucy Deane arrives with her suitor, Stephen Guest in mourning gear for the death of her mother some time later. Lucy tells Stephen of her cousin, Maggie who has had a hard life and worked as a governess. Stephen assumes that Maggie is fat and blond like her mother who now lives at the Deane's. Lucy worries that her friend, Philip Wakem, who often visits her will not want to see Maggie. She writes a note for Philip and asks Stephen to take it to him.
Lucy rehearses preparations for Maggie's arrival which she wishes to be perfect as Maggie is her favorite cousin. Maggie arrives shortly, and Lucy tries to cheer her up as Maggie admits that she is unhappy most of the time and even gets angry at the sight of happy people. Stephen arrives and is surprised to find that Maggie is tall and beautiful. He enjoys her frankness and likes speaking to her.
The group goes out boating together, and as Maggie accidentally slips getting out of the boat, Stephen takes her hand, and Maggie appreciates his touch. Maggie speaks with Lucy that night about Philip Wakem and explains what happened between them years earlier. Lucy becomes enthusiastic about this and vows to see them married one day. Maggie also visits Tom who now lives with his friend and business partner, Bob. Bob tells Maggie that he feels that Tom may be in love with Lucy. Maggie asks Tom to let her out of her promise not to see Philip as she is going to be spending time with him at Lucy's house. Tom agrees, coldly but tells her that his feelings about Philip remain the same and that if she marries Philip, he will never speak to her again.
Lucy's family has a large Christmas party at which Maggie makes a great impression on the young people of the town. Stephen feels guilty for finding Maggie attractive and begins elevating his attentions to Lucy and never being in the same room as Maggie without Lucy. Philip comes to visit the Deanes and Maggie cries when she sees him. She has come to view Philip as a "sanctuary" where she can find refuge from Stephen. Maggie tells Philip that she has to leave soon for another teaching job. Philip notices a change in her and sees that there seems to be something blossoming between her and Stephen.
Tom comes up with a plan for Mr. Deane's company to acquire the Mill again and when Lucy hears of it, she begs her father to be allowed to talk to Philip about it. Philip comes up with his plan to accomplish this as a way to win Maggie back. He speaks to his father and admits his love for Maggie. Wakem is furious at this, as he still harbors hatred for the Tullivers. Later that evening, Wakem concedes to the match, however, and admits that Maggie does seem to love him. Philip manages to make his father give up the Mill property as well. A bazaar is held in Lucy's town at which Maggie has a stall. Many men of the town patronize her stall and seem to enjoy her company, particularly Stephen.
Mr. Wakem visits and buys something from her and speaks to her about Philip in a general but obviously significant way. This agitates Maggie and Stephen realizes that there is an attachment between Philip and Maggie. Philip and Stephen speak and end up quarreling about Maggie. Lucy tells Maggie that Tom can reclaim the Mill from Wakem. Maggie tells Lucy that she is leaving town to take up her governess position. Lucy is confused about why she would leave now when there is nothing standing between her and Philip's love. Maggie tells her that Tom still objects. Lucy asks if she loves Philip and Maggie says that she would choose to marry Philip because it would be the best and highest lot for her.
Before she leaves, there is a dance that both Maggie and Stephen attend. Stephen asks to walk in the garden with Maggie, and the two are quieted by the idea that they will never see each other again. Stephen impulsively kisses Maggie's arm, and Maggie is upset that he would think that she would betray Lucy this way. But she realizes that her reaction to this will make it easier to part with him and is secretly relieved.
The morning of her departure, Philip visits Maggie, and she kindly tells him that she has to leave. He asks if Tom's hatred of him is the only reason that they cannot marry and Maggie answers that it is. Maggie first travels to her aunt Mosses house to see her. A few days after her arrival, Stephen rides to the house saying that he has a message for her. They walk in the garden, and Maggie berates him for pressing his case on her. He tells her that she has no sensitivity for his feelings and that he is "mad with love" for her. He argues that neither of them is formally bound to anyone else and that if they are in love, it would not be wrong for them to marry.
Maggie agrees that their feelings are strong but insists that they part and kisses him once before running back to her house to cry in her aunt's arms. Before leaving for her teaching job, Maggie returns to the Deanes one last time to have dinner. It is agreed that the group will go on a boat ride together and she is put in a boat with Stephen that is to meet Lucy's boat nearby. However, Maggie quickly realizes that they have passed the meeting place and begins to cry in fear. Stephen urges her to run away with him. She tells him that she cannot and that he has put her in an impossible position. Stephen offers to row back and take the blame for being late. Maggie is affected by his pain, and he takes her silence as yielding and rows on. Maggie tells him that she is too exhausted to make any decisions today and, assuming that he has won the argument, Stephen tells her that he loves her again. Maggie falls asleep on the boat with Stephen watching over her.
When Maggie awakes the next morning, she is filled with a new resolve to resist Stephen. She tells him, and he becomes angry but escorts her off the boat and into town to look for an inn to stay at. Maggie gets the sense that someone in the town is looking at her, but doesn't know who.
At the Inn, Maggie tells Stephen that they cannot be together because it would cause others pain. He tells her that she must not love him and warns her what the town will think of her if she returns now. Angered, he tells her to leave him at once, and she does. Once she gets in a coach, however, she accidentally ends up in a completely different town.
Back at the Mill, which Tom has recently reacquired, he worries about his sister as she has been missing for five days. Someone in the town has reported seeing her with Stephen. When Maggie finally makes it back home, Tom assumes that she has been disgraced by Stephen and throws her out. He refuses to listen to her explanations of what happened. Maggie turns to leave, but their mother offers to go with her.
Soon, the entire town hears about Maggie returning unmarried and assumes the worst as well. Stephen sends a letter home taking all of the blame on himself for the incident but the town refuses to listen and blames everything squarely on Maggie. Maggie stays with Bob who treats her kindly and believes her story of what happened with Stephen. Maggie decides to sway her mother into moving back in with Tom while she finds a way to earn a living in town. Mrs. Tulliver visits Lucy, who has been bedridden and ill since the news.
Maggie writes to excuse herself from her teaching job. Soon she learns from her mother the unexpected news that Mrs. Glegg is standing by her and has reproved Tom for throwing her out. She offers to take Maggie into her house. Maggie receives a letter from Philip offering to wait for her and assuring her that he still loves her.
The local doctor, Dr. Kenn, agrees to let Maggie be the governess for his children but this only makes the town assume that they are having an affair. Lucy recovers gradually, and Maggie wishes to see her but knows that it would not be welcomed. However, one evening Lucy visits her unexpectedly and tells her that she forgives her. Maggie weeps and thanks her. She urges her to forgive Stephen, but Lucy is only silent on the subject. Dr. Kenn finally bows to the gossip in town and asks Maggie to leave town for a while.
Stephen writes Maggie a letter saying that he is back in town. He scolds her for her cruelty to him and says that he has suffered greatly without her, begging her to come to him. Maggie is tempted, but remembers her feelings after meeting with Lucy and prays instead. She burns the letter and resolves to write him a letter parting from him the next day. Harsh rains fall in town and the Floss river begins to flood. Bob's house floods and Maggie wakes them in the middle of the night to escape the deluged house. Maggie gets into one of Bob's two boats and paddles into the dangerous water to escape. She reaches the Mill and sees Tom, who gets into the boat. Tom realizes that Maggie has made a huge effort to save his life from the flood. They row toward the Deanes but accidentally capsize and drown together.
Five years later, Philip and Stephen visit Maggie's grave. Years later after that, Stephen and Lucy visit the grave together, and Philip visits alone. Maggie and Tom were buried together, and their tomb's inscription reads: "In their death, they were not divided."
Maggie Tulliver - the protagonist of the story. The novel follows Maggie from childhood to adulthood and all of the trials and tribulations that follow. From a young age, Maggie is clever if an imperious child who often acts before she thinks. Her mother and aunts refer to her as a “wild thing, generally ” and her mother dislikes that she has such dark coloring and is so unfeminine. Maggie's father appreciates her far more and enjoys her cleverness although he makes it clear that he does not intend to offer the same schooling that her brother is privileged to as a boy.
Maggie's only true friend as a child is her brother, T gets along well with. She constantly looks for his approval and follows along after him in everything that she does. This translates into their adulthood well when she is not willing to give up his approval in order to marry Philip whom she feels she is in love with.
After the Tulliver's are bankrupted, Maggie decides to lead a quieter, more pious life that is devoted to helping others. Maggie suffers much heartbreak throughout the book at the hands of both Philip and Stephen, both of whom she seems to genuinely love but cannot be with because of the opinions of those that she loves. Perhaps in the end, then it is fitting that Maggie dies with Tom, the one man whom she was always most devoted to.
Tom Tulliver - Maggie's older brother and the Tulliver's oldest child. Tom is a serious boy with a clear sense of justice and duty within his family. When the family is bankrupted, it is Tom who gets them back on track financially with a clever business decision although he has always been regarded by his father as the less intelligent child.
Later on in the book, it is alluded to that Tom is in love with Lucy but he never does anything about it. Tom cares about his family and their reputation more than anything and loves his sister although he dislikes her impetuous nature. He also often resents the fact that Maggie seems to feel that she is smarter than he is. Tom throws Maggie out after she returns from being spirited away with Stephen for the sake of the reputation of the family but later regrets this after she puts herself at great personal danger to save him during the flood. Both Tom and Maggie die together in the flood waters.
Philip Wakem - the son of the lawyer that Mr. Tulliver considers his rival. Philip is first introduced as a school mate of Tom's but later realizes that he is in love with Maggie and wishes to marry her. Philip has a hunched back that has been present since his birth and a small stature as well as a pale face. He considers himself unattractive and seems to latch on to Maggie early as she is the first woman to show him any attention.
Philip has a love of art and music that console him throughout his lonely life.
Stephen Guest - a suitor of Lucy Deane who instantly falls in love with Maggie after meeting her. Stephen is the son of a senior partner at the business where Lucy's father works and thus, a good marriage prospect for either of the girls. Stephen cares a great deal for Lucy, but feels himself oddly pulled toward Maggie for reasons that he cannot explain. He tries to deny his love for her but finally relents and effectively kidnaps her on their boating expedition to the next town. After Maggie refuses him and returns to town, Stephen does try to improve her situation within the town by taking the blame for her disappearance but no one believes him and Maggie remains a fallen woman in their eyes. In the end of the novel, it seems that Stephen has returned to Lucy and the two are together in some respect.
Lucy Deane - Maggie and Tom's cousin. Lucy is a pretty, intelligent, blond girl who is genuinely kind and enjoys helping others. Mrs. Tulliver prefers Lucy to her own daughter at the start of the book as she believes that Lucy is prettier and more ladylike. Lucy forgives Maggie after believing that the latter ran away with Stephen and presumably forgives Stephen after Maggie's death.
George Eliot Biography
George Eliot was born as Mary Ann Evans on November 22, 1819, in Warwickshire, England. Her father, Robert Evans, was the manager of the Arbury Hall Estate and her mother was Christiana Evans, the daughter of a local mill owner. She had a sister and brother and a half sister. Since Mary Ann was considered to be too intelligent and not pretty enough to land a husband, she was given the best education. She studied all the classics, including Greek, which came to influence her writing.
Coming from a devout religious family, Mary Ann questioned the beliefs, which angered her father later in life. When she was sixteen her mother died and Mary Ann quit school in order to keep house for her father. She also began to write, and by the time of his death when she was thirty, she had become a published magazine author.
She became friends with literary people, joining Charles and Cara Bray, who led groups of writers including Ralph Waldo Emerson. Five days after her father's death, Mary Ann traveled to Geneva, where she settled for a while. In 1851, she met George Henry Lewes. Although, he was already legally married, the two began to live together in 1854. She began to write under the pen name George Eliot, because she wanted her books to be taken seriously. It is commonly assumed that her pen name was an homage to her lover. George, which was his first name, and Eliot which was supposed to be a code for "to L – I owe it." There were a lot of women writing at the time, but most women wrote romances, and that's not what she wanted to write.
With the success of her first books, Eliot began to have a lot of fans. When she finally came out as the writer, Mary Ann, who had been shunned by polite society because of her relationship with a married man, was now accepted by the Queen, who never missed one of her books. Eliot was even introduced to Princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria.
In 1878 George Lewes died, and Mary Ann went on to marry John Cross, two years later. Although, her brother decided to forgive her and welcome her back into the family with a legitimate marriage, she still scandalized society since John was twenty years younger than her. During their honeymoon, he tried to commit suicide by jumping off of a balcony into the Grand Canal in Venice. The two settled into married life in Chelsea. She married him in May of 1880 and by December, she had succumbed to a recurring kidney infection coupled with a throat infection. She died at the age of sixty one.
George Eliot could not be buried in Westminster Abbey because of her lapsed beliefs in the Christian faith, and her relationship that bordered on polygamy with George Lewes. So, she was buried in Highgate Cemetery next to George Lewes. A memorial stone was erected in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in 1980, a century after her death.
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