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Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The Mill on the Floss

I've been reading part of The Mill on the Floss to decide whether we should keep it or not. These are the points I have come up with about the book:
  1. Maggie (who is "almost" engaged to Philip) and Stephen (who is "almost" engaged to Lucy - Maggie's cousin and close friend) are mutually attracted to one another. They allow themselves to fall into temptation and Stephen persuades Maggie to elope. Maggie's conscience prevents her going through with it but Philip and Lucy have still been hurt in the process.
  2. Maggie (the main character) does not do something which is inherently morally wrong (although she was foolish and unwise and her actions and should have avoided temptation).
  3. Maggie clearly has a conscience about her actions and shows remorse.
  4. The book illustrates the danger of allowing oneself to fall into temptation. As Heather Gemmen says in her book Startling Beauty we are told to FLEE temptation - not just resist it.

I can't say that the overall plot is that amazing as a story but there doesn't seem to be anything objectionable in it so we will most likely keep it but I don't think we would have it at the top of the reading list.

The next book I will be looking at is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.


Buffy said...

I had to study The Mill on the Floss for my English Literature A Level. It was very clear that Maggie's relatively mild transgression resulted in very severe repercussions for her. I think this is typical of many of the Victorian novels.

Did you know that after publication of The Woman in White many men wrote to Wilkie Collins to ask where they could meet a woman who was as clever and as good as Marian. I thought she was a well drawn character even though she was not beautiful and, of course, she remained a spinster. One of the questions the novel asks is: what makes a true gentleman?

Anonymous said...

No I did not know that. It is so long since I read The Woman in White that (as with many of these books) I have forgotten a lot of the storyline. I didn't study English Literature past GCSE but I used to read a LOT as a teenager. I like the way that St Oggs' judgement is contrasted with the forgiveness of Philip and Lucy.

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