Mill on the Floss

A sibling relationship is at the heart of George Eliot’s (1819-1880) semi-autobiographical novel, published in 1860. Maggie Tulliver, an intelligent, impetuous girl, yearns for the approbation of her brother, Tom. Their father, a miller, suffers financial misfortune. Maggie is drawn to Philip Wakem, the sensitive son of her father’s enemy, but Tom’s antipathy leads to the termination of Maggie and Philip’s friendship. They are reunited subsequently; unfortunately, Maggie’s attraction to Stephen Guest, her cousin Lucy’s suitor, further angers Tom and compromises her reputation. When the River Floss floods, Maggie valiantly attempts to rescue Tom, but the two of them drown. Some critics have found this dramatic ending rushed and unrealistic, reserving their praise for Eliot’s sensitive, vivid portrayal of the siblings in the first part of the novel.

George Eliot
Victorian literature
Literary period:

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