Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm Currently Reading...The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (Part 4)

Okay, I'm going to highlight the main events that happened in the last 3 books:

Book Five: Wheat and Tares: - Maggie starts meeting Philip in the woods, without anyone knowing.
-  Tom finds out about Maggie seeing Philip (surprise surprise), and Maggie swears she'll never see him again without Tom's permission
- Tom pays of his father's debt.
- Mr. Tulliver beats up Mr. Wakem and, after Maggie stops him, Mr. Tulliver becomes sick again and dies.

Book Six: The Great Temptation: - A few years later, Maggie comes to stay with cousin Lucy and meets Stephen Guest, Lucy's boyfriend.
- Maggie asks Tom for permission to see Philip, who will be coming to Lucy's house.
- Philip is still in love with Maggie, and Lucky knows it.  She automatically wants Maggie and Philip to be together, and is doing all she can to settle the dispute between the Wakems and Tullivers.
-  Maggie and Stephen, however, are falling in love.  Stephen convinces Maggie to elope with him.  But Maggie, though she knows now everyone will be angry with her, changes her mind about marrying Stephen and goes home.

Book Seven: The Final Rescue: - Maggie returns to the mill, and Tom has this to say:

"Tom did not hear the gate; he was just then close upon the roaring dam; but he presently turned, and lifting up his eyes, saw the figure whose worn look and loneliness seemed to him a confirmation of his worst conjectures. He paused, trembling and white with disgust and indignation.

Maggie paused too, three yards before him. She felt the hatred in his face, felt it rushing through her fibres; but she must speak.

"Tom," she began faintly, "I am come back to you,–I am come back home–for refuge–to tell you everything."

"You will find no home with me," he answered, with tremulous rage. "You have disgraced us all. You have disgraced my father's name. You have been a curse to your best friends. You have been base, deceitful; no motives are strong enough to restrain you. I wash my hands of you forever. You don't belong to me."

Their mother had come to the door now. She stood paralyzed by the double shock of seeing Maggie and hearing Tom's words.

"Tom," said Maggie, with more courage, "I am perhaps not so guilty as you believe me to be. I never meant to give way to my feelings. I struggled against them. I was carried too far in the boat to come back on Tuesday. I came back as soon as I could."

"I can't believe in you any more," said Tom, gradually passing from the tremulous excitement of the first moment to cold inflexibility. "You have been carrying on a clandestine relation with Stephen Guest,–as you did before with another. He went to see you at my aunt Moss's; you walked alone with him in the lanes; you must have behaved as no modest girl would have done to her cousin's lover, else that could never have happened. The people at Luckreth saw you pass; you passed all the other places; you knew what you were doing. You have been using Philip Wakem as a screen to deceive Lucy,–the kindest friend you ever had. Go and see the return you have made her. She's ill; unable to speak. My mother can't go near her, lest she should remind her of you."

Maggie was half stunned,–too heavily pressed upon by her anguish even to discern any difference between her actual guilt and her brother's accusations, still less to vindicate herself.

"Tom," she said, crushing her hands together under her cloak, in the effort to speak again, "whatever I have done, I repent it bitterly. I want to make amends. I will endure anything. I want to be kept from doing wrong again."

"What will keep you?" said Tom, with cruel bitterness. "Not religion; not your natural feelings of gratitude and honor. And he–he would deserve to be shot, if it were not––But you are ten times worse than he is. I loathe your character and your conduct. You struggled with your feelings, you say. Yes! I have had feelings to struggle with; but I conquered them. I have had a harder life than you have had; but I have found my comfort in doing my duty. But I will sanction no such character as yours; the world shall know that I feel the difference between right and wrong. If you are in want, I will provide for you; let my mother know. But you shall not come under my roof. It is enough that I have to bear the thought of your disgrace; the sight of you is hateful to me." " - The Mill On the Floss by George Eliot, pp. 506 -508

Harsh, right?   But Mrs. Tulliver takes pity on her daughter and helps Maggie, though Maggie IS now the talk of the town.  Maggie hides out at Bob's.
-  Philip and Lucy both forgive Maggie.
- When a flood strikes, Maggie escapes in a boat to the mill to save Tom and her mother.  When she arrives, only Tom is there.
- Tom and Maggie make up when Tom calls her Magsie, his pet name for her.  They head off to Lucy's in this boat.
- Fragments from a broken wooden machine get caught up in the current, strike the boat, AND THEY ALL DIED.

0___0  Um...that ending horrified me.  I was literally thinking right before this part, "I'll have to put in my review that I was afraid Maggie was going to die." and...suddenly..she did, and Tom too!  I felt so bad for Philip when I read the "Conclusion" (which stated that he and Stephen both would come to Maggie and Tom's grave, which read "In their death they were not divided").  Philip still never ended up happy. :(  Overall, I found the last two books the best out of the whole story.  But I DID NOT like the end.  As Henry James put it, the end is "defective and shocking".  It just seemed too abrupt, which I think was a point Eliot was trying to make about life, but still.  Not too pleased with that  I would recommend one read this book, but I wouldn't say it's one of my favorites.

Here's some facts I found about the story from SparkNotes that I found interesting:

"Full title ·  The Mill on the Floss
Author ·  George Eliot (pseudonym for Marian Evans)
Type of work ·  Novel
Genre ·  Victorian novel, tragedy
Language ·  English
Time and place written ·  Richmond and Wandsworth in England, 1859–1860
Date of first publication ·  1860
Publisher ·  Blackwood and Sons
Narrator ·  The unnamed narrator was alive for Maggie Tulliver's life and is narrating the events many years later.
Point of view ·  The narrator speaks in the first person at selective points of narration but for all else, narrates as though third-person omniscient.
Tone ·  The tone can vary from lightly satiric when dealing with lesser characters, to elegiac or only slightly ironic when dealing with main characters.
Tense ·  Past
Setting (time) ·  1829–1839
Setting (place) ·  St. Ogg's in English midlands (real life model for the Floss was the Trent in Lincolnshire)
Protagonist ·  Maggie Tulliver
Major conflict ·  Maggie must choose between her inner desire toward passion and sensuous life and her impulse towards moral responsibility and the need for her brother's approval and love.
Rising action ·  Incurious Tom is sent to school, while Maggie is held "uncanny" for her intelligence. Mr. Tulliver's pride and inability to adapt to the changing economic world causes him to lose his property in a lawsuit against Lawyer Wakem and eventually die as the result of his fury toward Wakem. To Tom's dismay, Maggie becomes secretly close to Wakem's sensitive crippled son, Philip.
Climax ·  At the age of nineteen, Maggie visits her cousin Lucy and becomes hopelessly attracted to Lucy's wealthy and polished suitor, Stephen Guest, and he to her. Stephen and Maggie are inadvertently left to themselves for a boatride. Stephen rows them further down river than planned and tries to convince Maggie to elope with him.
Falling action ·  Maggie parts with Stephen, arguing that they each cannot ignore the claims that Lucy and Philip have on them. Maggie returns to St. Ogg's several days later and is met with repudiation from the entire town and from Tom. Philip and Lucy contact Maggie and forgive her. The Floss floods, and Maggie seizes a boat and rows to the Mill to save Tom. Their boat is capsized by floating machinery, Tom and Maggie drown in each other's arms.
Themes ·  The claim of the past upon present identity; The effect of society upon the individual; The importance of sympathy; Practical knowledge versus bookish knowledge
Motifs ·  The disparity between the Dodsons and the Tullivers; Music; Animal imagery; Dark and light women
Symbols ·  The Floss; St. Ogg; Maggie's eyes
Foreshadowing ·  As the story is being told in the past tense, the narrator often alludes to future circumstances when describing the present moment. An example of this is the narration of the figure of Maggie at the St. Ogg's bazaar in Chapter IX of Book Sixth, when the narrator alludes to the future attitudes of the women of St. Ogg's toward Maggie in light of her "subsequent conduct." The use of the Floss to symbolize Maggie's destiny throughout the novel also foreshadows her eventual drowning."