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2012 Group Reads - Archives > The Mill On the Floss - Book Seventh

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message 1: by Silver (last edited Feb 20, 2012 09:35AM) (new)

Silver Book VII: The Final Rescue

The Return to the Mill
St. Ogg's Passes Judgment
Showing That Old Acquaintances Are Capable of Surprising Us
Maggie and Lucy
The Last Conflict


message 2: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 20 comments Poor Maggie and all that she went through. To think that the town would have thought better of her had she actually married Stephen! Even though nothing happened and Maggie came back virtuously, it was still considered a scandal and Maggie's reputation, at least within the town, was ruined.
It as such a sad and unexpected ending! I am glad Maggie and Tom reconciled. It was done beautifully,the reconciliation, no words necessary between them. I love this quote from the last chapter:
"It was not till Tom had pushed off and they were on the wide water, - he face to face with Maggie, - that the full meaning of what had happened rushed upon his mind. It came with so overpowering a force, - it was such a new revelation to his spirit, of the depths in life that had lain beyond his vision, which he fancied so keen and clear..."
It was like he realized that all this time, when he had thought he was so perceptive in knowing what was right and everything, that he had actually been missing out and what was truly important to him, his love for his sister.
Truly a great read! So glad this book was chosen for group read. This was my first reading of anything by George Eliot, but I will definitely be reading more from her.


message 3: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Great points Jenn. Eliot's Middlemarch is considered by many to be the finest book in the English language and regularly tops the 'best read' polls over here.

I find the ending disappointing although it has been hinted at throughout. It seems uncharacteristically melodramatic and unreal. The reversion to the idealised relationship between Tom and Maggie seems unlikely even though it is what Maggie has always wished for.

The epitaph from Samuel 1:23 on their tomb, 'In their death they were not divided', is a biblical quote concerning males only so even at the end Maggie seems excluded, just as she was in life and this paragraph towards the end seems to sum up the novel:-

'Nature repairs her ravages, but not all. The uptorn trees are not rooted again; the parted hills are left scarred; if there is a new growth, the trees are not the same as the old, and the hills underneath their green vesture bear the marks of the past rending. To the eyes that have dwelt on the past, there is no thorough repair.'

.


message 4: by Silver (new)

Silver I hated the ending (not really) but it was just so tragic, and I did not see that coming at all. I was quite shocked and at first was like, did that just happen? It was so sad for Maggie having to struggle all her life, to end that way. I agree it was a surprisingly dramatic ending for a writer of realism.

I had thought that perhaps Maggie would have eventually ended up with Phillip in the end, I even considered the possibility that something would happen to Mrs. Jakin, leaving Bob a widow, and that they might get together, or that in the end Maggie would just go off on her own and make her own way in life.

In considering the discussion about how the story of Adam and Eve and the fall is reflected within this story, in the end are Maggie and Tom finally punished for their "sins?" Or because they are finally united together and Tom learns to forgive and love his sister as she had always desired, do they find redemption in death?

Also interesting that it was a flood, is that meant to be another allusion to the Bible?


message 5: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
Now you guys know why I didn't want to reread it at a time when I wasn't my feeling my happiest ;-). It is a very sad book on so many levels. One thing I notice in Eliot - she doesn't necessary go for the happily ever after ending.


message 6: by MadgeUK (last edited Feb 21, 2012 10:30AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I suppose if you think, as the Victorians may have done, that the final embrace signifies redemption, it could be considered a happy ending? Death would have been considered the only way out for a woman who had sex outside of marriage, for instance, and there is a hint of that with Stephen. The Victorians believed passion to be deviant; thoughts of sexuality would cause insanity and thus repression was necessary. I suppose death was the ultimate repression?!


message 7: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 20 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Great points Jenn. Eliot's Middlemarch is considered by many to be the finest book in the English language and regularly tops the 'best read' polls over here.

I find the ending disappointing alt..."


I do agree that the ending seemed a bit unreal. That finally after all this time Maggie got the love she had always wanted from her brother. Seems too easy.
I almost thought that she had actually died earlier while trying to control the boat at Bob's house. A tidal wave came along and drove the boats out into the wide water.
"In the first moments Maggie felt nothing, thought of nothing, but that she had suddenly passed away from that life which she had been dreading; it was the transition of death, without its agony, - and she was alone in the darkness with God."
Then she wakes to "consciousness" and all of a sudden the water is peaceful and smooth. It is almost like she had died from the tidal wave and the rest was just some dream that she had in her final moments before death. It would make sense since the ending seems so unrealistic between Maggie and Tom. Of course, I can't figure out how to work this theory with the mention of the tomb with Maggie's and Tom's bodies entwined together.


message 8: by Lynnm (last edited Feb 25, 2012 04:03PM) (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments It was a sad ending, but unfortunately, when I was doing research, I read what was going to happen quite early in reading the book. :-(

I think Elliot's point is that at that time, the only release from Maggie's lot in life is death. Society isn't ready at that time to understand someone like Maggie. They want to blame women - as they always have done - and they won't let the facts stand in the way.

It's really all quite depressing. ;) I'm glad I didn't live back then.


message 9: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, and if it isn't a physical death it is a mental one:(


message 10: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimmr) | 317 comments BunWat wrote: "What did anyone think about Maggie's mother and her Aunt Glegg both taking her side after the scandal with Stephen broke? I loved it! When Mrs Tulliver walked away with Maggie, I was cheering! ..."

Oh yes, I loved that bit too! It wasn't what I expected of either of them and I certainly didn't expect Mrs Tulliver to support Maggie so comprehensively.


message 11: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments BunWat wrote: "I love Jenn's idea that Maggie actually dies early in the flood and the rest of the chapter is a dying dream of wish fulfillment about reconciling with Tom. I don't actually think its Eliot's inte..."

I agree. And on one hand, I was a bit surprised about Mrs. Glegg taking Maggie's side. She certainly wasn't happy when the Tulliver's were in her estimation financial irresponsible, and she didn't move to help them much. But on the other hand, I wasn't. I think she saw the hypocrisy of the townspeople.


message 12: by Silver (new)

Silver Lynnm wrote: I agree. And on one hand, I was a bit surprised about Mrs. Glegg taking Maggie's side. She certainly wasn't happy when the Tulliver's were in her estimation financial irresponsible, and she didn't move to help them muchi..."

This brings up something I had not considered before, but now it makes me think. I wonder what if anything is being implied by the fact that Aunt Glegg seems more concerned and critical of finical irresponsibility, than she seems to be about moral irresponsibility.

For while on the one hand Maggie is essentially innocent, and had in fact been attempting to do what she believed to be the right thing, on the other hand she did use some poor judgement which led to her being placed in this precarious situation. At the start agreeing to go out alone with Stephen was a bad idea considering she knew how they struggled with their own feelings, and she was putting herself in the way of temptation, and in a vulnerable position. In addition there is the suggestion of the fact that they may have had some sexual encounter with each other (for such a thing in Victorian times cannot be out and out said, but must be subtly implied.) So did she or didn't she? I do not think it can be known for a certainty.

Yet while Aunt Glegg holds the Tulliver's responsible for their finical downfall and does not see why she ought to help them for what they brought upon themselves, she does not hold Maggie responsible for her moral/social decline and is willing to take her part. Is it because she really primarily cares about the money? And she an afford (pun indented) to support Maggie because it will not actually cost her anything? Does she principally define her own social status through her material wealth than the reputation of the family name?


message 13: by Joyce (new)

Joyce | 24 comments I know I'm late, but here goes. Something bothers me. Although Maggie went away to work as a governess and planned to do so a second time, she rejects the suggestion to do so after she's "ruined". On the other hand, she also rejects the refuge offered to her by her family - "I must earn my bread". She can't go away, yet she can't stay! Is there no place left for her in this world? Is that the point?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "Great points Jenn. Eliot's Middlemarch is considered by many to be the finest book in the English language and regularly tops the 'best read' polls over here.

I find the ending disappointing alt..."


Damn, Madge, these are terrific observations and comments!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "I suppose death was the ultimate repression?

Yup! I think that's precisely the point that Eliot was making--it ain't 'redemption', it is repression!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Lynnm wrote: "I think Eliot's point is that at that time, the only release from Maggie's lot in life is death. Society isn't ready at that time to understand someone like Maggie. They want to blame women - as they always have done - and they won't let the facts stand in the way."

Precisely right!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
A poem by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) from her collection entitled, Maude: Prose and Verse (1850) that could have been written about our dear Maggie Tulliver--

"She Sat and Sang Alway"

She sat and sang alway
By the green margin of a stream,
Watching the fishes leap and play
Beneath the glad sun-beam.

I sat and wept alway
Beneath the moon's most shadowy beam,
Watching the blossoms of the may
Weep leaves into the stream.

I wept for memory;
She sang for hope that is so fair;--
My tears were swallowed by the sea;
Her songs died on the air.

***


message 18: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Very appropriate for Maggie Chris:(


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