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Couverture de The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

De : George Eliot
Lu par : Diana Croft,Chris MacDonnell
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    This powerful and moving 1860 novel is believed to be George Eliot’s most autobiographical novel. She was certainly referencing personal experience when she wrote the character of Maggie Tulliver.

    The protagonist’s siblings, Tom and Maggie, are brought up in Lincolnshire, at Dorlcote Mill, on the banks of the imaginary River Floss. Maggie adores and worships her brother. As a young boy, he has adopted a chivalrous, manly, moral code, but also displays a reluctance to learn, and he fails dismally to apply himself to his education. His father, anxious to see Tom formally educated (“So as he might be up to the tricks o’ these fellows as talk fine and write with a flourish”) opts to send him to board with a tutor. Tom struggles with Latin and dreads the inclusion of Greek in the syllabus.

    Maggie outshines him intellectually, showing herself to be astute and intelligent, which goes against the expectations for a girl in the society of the day and of her family. Her development into adulthood is made difficult by prevailing societal attitudes toward women. Many references to those attitudes are made in the work, and there is clearly a feminist perspective to the novel. However, Maggie is desperate to win approval.

    Tom’s life is changed drastically when his father becomes a debtor to the point of bankruptcy and a fall from his horse leaves him gravely ill. Tom’s pride and family loyalty push him into a life and career he wouldn’t have chosen for himself, desperate to pay off his father’s debts. Eventually, through the encouragement of his inarticulate and lowly-born childhood friend, Bob Jakin, Tom makes the best of his situation. (Bob is a dedicated friend to Tom and Maggie throughout the novel).

    Dominating the family are their three aunts (formerly Dodson sisters) and their husbands. These aunts and Mrs. Tulliver are regarded as one of the most wonderful comic creations of nineteenth-century fiction.

    Maggie becomes a woman and ultimately involved in relationships with two men. Phillip: a close friend who is the son of her father’s enemy and persecutor. And Steven: a charming, upper-class suitor who just happens to be her cousin Lucy’s recognized Beau. This internal battle between her sense of decency, her family’s expectations of her, and her own desires tears her apart. Tom does not approve of Maggie’s behavior regarding either one of these relationships and disowns Maggie. Eliot then brings this classic romantic novel to a suspenseful and beautifully written conclusion.

    Public Domain (P)2023 Spoken Realms

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