The Pirate is a novel by the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, first published in 1822. This is the second edition, published in the same year.
The novel is set on the Shetland Islands at the beginning of the 18th century, and tells the story of the complicated romantic lives of two men and two sisters, Minna and Brenda Troil.
The Pirate and George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss
In The Mill on the Floss (1860), George Eliot uses Scott’s dramatic, highly-coloured novels to indicate the passionate nature of her heroine Maggie Tulliver. Maggie tries to distract herself from her suffering by escaping into ‘absorbing fancies; if she could have had all Scott’s novels and all Byron’s poems! – then, perhaps, she might have found happiness enough to dull her sensibility to her actual daily life’ (Book 4, ch. 3).
Later, Maggie puts romances aside, attempting to resign herself to her situation through reading religious works. When she sees Philip Wakem carrying a copy of The Pirate, she tells him that she once started the novel, but got no further than the part where ‘Minna is walking with Cleveland … For a long while I couldn’t get my mind away from the Shetland Isles, – I used to feel the wind blowing on me from the rough sea’ (Book 5, ch. 1).
Philip offers to lend her the book so she can finish it but Maggie refuses, on the grounds that ‘it would make me in love with this world again … it would make me long for a full life'. Maggie has not fully repressed her longings: just as when she was a little girl reading Pug’s Tour Through Europe, she yearns to have experiences far beyond those available to her in her provincial environment.
The pages shown here are those that Maggie mentions, in which Minna walks along ‘one of the loneliest recesses of the coast’ with her lover, the handsome Captain Cleveland (p. 202). They are conducting their walk in secret, and their conversation is passionate: Cleveland tells Minna that his love for her is ‘the most powerful emotion that my heart ever knew’ (p. 207).
- Article by:
- Rohan Maitzen
- The novel 1832–1880
Dr Rohan Maitzen explores how George Eliot uses education, literature and her own experience in The Mill on the Floss to subvert the traditional bildungsroman, or novel of development.
- Article by:
- Clara Drummond
Clara Drummond explains how Lord Byron’s politics, relationships and views on other poets led to his reputation of 19th-century bad boy.
- Article by:
- Sharon Ruston
- Romanticism, Fin de siècle, Technology and science
Opium was widely available in the 19th century, sold by barbers, tobacconists and stationers. Writers including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Charles Dickens all used the drug, for pleasure or as medicine. Professor Sharon Ruston explores how drugs provided both inspiration and subject matter for the literature of the period.