There are characters in literature who are unforgettable Different readers will place different characters in the unforgettable category of course, but I d imagine there are a few characters who would turn up on the lists of a great many readers Anna Karenina, for example, Heathcliff, perhaps, Don Quixote most definitely You ve probably already thought of names to add to the list, world famous literary characters I ve either forgotten about or never heard of, but no matter the exalted status of the characters who might figure on such a list, I m now convinced that George Eliot s Maggie Tulliver could hold her own in the unforgettable stakes which causes me to wonder what it is that makes a character unforgettable Already, looking at my own short list, I see some elements that those characters have in common being different in their thinking and mode of living, and most strikingly, the tragic destiny they share in one way or another though tragic Don Q is memorable for his comic side too and he managed to die safely in his own bed, attended by his faithful Sancho.But back to Maggie Tulliver Out of the many tragic literary characters I ve read about, some of whom are also marked out by difference, why do I place her immediately in the exclusive unforgettable group And why, since she s such a powerful character, didn t Eliot name the book after her, as she did with Romola, Silas Marner, Adam Bede, Felix Holt and Daniel Deronda When I reached the end of the book, I understood Eliot s choice of title better It s actually a very fine title The Mill on the Floss Not only is there a lilting music to it, it also embodies the essence of the story the intense love Maggie felt throughout her life for her childhood home by the river Indeed, there are some beautiful lines about the connections people feel to a place in this book, the thoughts, for example, that Eliot gives Maggie s father, and which could well have been Maggie s thoughts too, at an older ageHe couldn t bear to think of himself living on any other spot than this, where he knew the sound of every gate door, and felt that the shape and color of every roof and weather stain and broken hillock was good, because his growing senses had been fed on them.Maggie s growing senses are central to the power she holds as a character, and they are the reason she is unforgettable She lives almost as if she had no membrane to shield her nerve endings, she feels every moment of life with huge intensity in great contrast to her extended family, the Gleggs and the Pullets, and their paltry preoccupations with nest eggs and feather mattresses We get an inkling of Maggie s unusual sensitivity at the very beginning of the book which opens with an unnamed narrator dozing in an armchair, dreamily recalling a child seen years before, a little dark haired girl standing by the mill on the river Floss, staring intently into the water Our attention is fixed firmly on dark haired Maggie from that moment, and the narrator s meditation about the swollen river, which begins as a simple description of the water but segues into what could be the thoughts of the child contemplating it, traces the arc of the story in a few simple lines The stream is brimful now, and lies high in this little withy plantation, and half drowns the grassy fringe of the croft in front of the house As I look at the full stream, the vivid grass, the delicate bright green powder softening the outline of the great trunks and branches that gleam from under the bare purple boughs I am in love with moistness, and envy the white ducks that are dipping their heads far into the water here among the withes, unmindful of the awkward appearance they make in the drier world aboveIncidentally, the narrator then disappears as a character , and we find ourselves in an omniscient narration We never discover who the narrator is, this person who claimed to remember Maggie as a child, but we understand that it is the same narrator nevertheless who continues to tell us Maggie s story because twice in the course of the tale, the narrator gives a sign of his her presence with an I statement, quite like the mysterious way Henry James sometimes slips an I statement into an omniscient narrative So, from the beginning, our attention is on dark haired Maggie, the girl who will later say I m determined to read no books where the blond haired women carry away all the happiness If you could give me some story where the dark woman triumphs, it would restore the balance I want to avenge all the dark unhappy onesThe reader is completely behind Maggie in this desire to see the dark woman triumph And dark haired Maggie does triumph, the river playing an unexpected role in her victory But the terrible irony is that Maggie cannot bear to triumph at the cost of the blond woman s happiness, and the mill and the river become her refuge in the end as they were in the beginning A perfect story with a perfect title. Maggie sacrifices love for family loyalty in George Eliot s a.k.a Mary Ann Evans semi autobiographical novel, The Mill on the Floss, published 1860 The novel spans a period of 10 to 15 years and details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, siblings growing up at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss at its junction with the minor River Ripple near the village of St Ogg s in Lincolnshire, England.In the introduction to the book, A.S.Byatt Editor states No well known novel contains so much of the author s own life as The Mill on the Floss , All the relatives, the humble life, the attic, the marbles and the fishing, the gypsies, the reading and music, the quarrels and affection, the father who loved his little wench all are reflections of her own girlhood She had a brother whom she doted upon and feared, who often thought her foolish and wrong He had refused to see her after she married Lewes, so that we may think of this account of Maggie Tulliver s mistakes as a record of real anguish written by a famous Maggie to an obscure and unforgiving TomWhile Maggie is the main character, the river, representing broader society, and the mill determine the flow and outcome of this tragedy There is never a moment when it can be ignored or forgotten The full impact and brilliance of the book, is hidden in the plot construction, says A.S Byatt Invent such an entanglement of five human fates that a little child s finding refuge from the cold means the failure of one woman s revenge, the innocent happiness of another woman, the rescue of one man from despair, the prevention of disgrace for another, the escape from torment and at the same time the punishment of a third, the suffering of an innocent wife for the selfishness of her husband, the uniting of two sets of destinies No, the plot is a masterly contrivance The story may be fitly called her most perfect work In another review of the book, the person writes Maggie Tulliver is one of the most engaging and endearing heroines that a reader will encounter in Victorian fiction Eliot s raven haired and dark eyed beautiful creation manages to combine the goodness, sensitivity, and natural curiosity of Elizabeth Gaskell s Molly Gibson the spirit and independence of Charles Dickens s Bella Wilfur and the wit and humor of Jane Austen s Elizabeth Bennet Maggie Tulliver has a heart the size of the sun, nearly as bright, and burns just as hotly She wants to please everyone, all of the time and it is this propensity to love and be loved that leads to her troubles Mostly though, Maggie desires than anything to please her older brother Tom and, in return, to be unconditionally loved by him.It is probably one of the most monumentally important books of the nineteenth century, well in cahoots with the subjects in Charles Dickens s novels George Eliot brought a realism to her work which was traditionally only allowed acceptable to male authors The author also addressed sensitive issues, such as marriage and the definition it brings to relationships It is a sad book for two reasons 1 the author had to write under a pseudonym, and 2 the autobiographical story ends up in tragedy, like a typical opera The river Floss, in the end, became the main character that it actually was throughout the book The e book that I ve read, had many flaws, which regularly made the reading really challenging For the life of me, I couldn t figure out what this could meanHe s none so full now, the Floss isn t, said Bob, as he kicked the water up before him, with an agreeable sense of being insolent to it Why last ear the m rni inw n m il i nil nn r sheet of wate r, theywas y b tIt r sai3 Tom, whose mind was prone to see an opposition between statements that were really quite accordant, but there was a big flood once, wh en th e Round Pool w as made inEnow there was, cause father says so. However, there were lighter moments, so skillfully created, which made this book a delightful experience I did not want to change or edit any of the text It is pasted here unchanged Maggie loved to linger in the great spaces of the mill, and often came out with her black hair powdered to a soft whiteness that made her dark eyes flash out with new fire The resolute din, the unresting motion of the great stones, gi nng her a dim delicious awe as at the presence of an uncontrollable force the meal for ever pouring, pouring the fine white powder softening all surfaces, and making the very spider nets look like a faery lace work the sweet pure scent of the meal all helped to make Maggie feel that the mill was a little world apart from her outside everyday life The spiders were especially a subject of speculation with her She wondered if they had any relations outside the mill, for in that ease there must be a painful difficulty in their family intercourse a fat and floury spider, accustomed to take his fly well dusted with meal, must suffer a little at a cousin s table where the fly was au naturel, and the lady spiders must be mutually shocked at each other s appearance. Another application of skillful wit It was not everybody who could afford to cry so much about their neighbors who had left them nothing but Mrs Pullet had married a gentleman farmer, and had leisure and money to carry her crying and everything else to the highest pitch of respectability. The unforgettable, but highly complex characters Maggie Tulliver the impetuous, contradictory, and generous young heroine She denies herself knowledge and opportunities in her quest to remain loyal to her family Regarded as wild and gypsy like by most of her respectable relatives, the sensitive and imaginative Maggie does not fit into the provincial society in and near St Ogg s on the River Floss She worships her brother Tom, who judges her harshly and thinks her unreliable She explains herself throughout the book, and summarizes her own actions with these wordsMany things are difficult and dark to me but I see one thing quite clearly that I must not, cannot seek my own happiness by sacrificing others Love is natural but surely pity and faithfulness and memory are natural too And they would live in me still, and punish me if I didn t obey them I should be haunted by the suffering I had caused Tom Tulliver Maggie s brother Although never quick at school, Tom assumes financial responsibility for the family when he is only sixteen, after the father has lost his mill and home through a series of lawsuits Tom pledges to follow his father in having nothing to do with the Wakem family Edward Tulliver the father of Maggie and Tom and the owner of Dorlcote Mill An emotional and hot tempered man, Tulliver engages in several lawsuits that, in combination with other financial reverses, cause him to lose his mill Tulliver must swallow his pride and work in the mill as the hated Wakem s manager.Elizabeth Tulliver Bessy Edward s wife, proud of her birth as a Dodson and grieved that her husband s temper and improvidence cause her to lose her home and furnishings She is dependent on the advice and opinions of her prosperous sisters Her pleading visit to Wakem inadvertently causes the tragic outcome of the family Excerpts used in this review, comes from this edition Eliot, George, 1819 1880 The mill on the Floss Chicago, New York, Scott, Foresman and company, 1920 iBooks In the end the book deals with art and culture, society and class, gender, compassion and forgiveness, suffering, religion, home, memory and the past, choices, family, and love The Mill On The Floss was undoubtedly a fascinating, often challenging read, due to its length and all the different elements combined in the book However, it was worth all the time dedicated to it. 879 The Mill on The Floss, George EliotThe Mill on the Floss is a novel by George Eliot Mary Ann Evans , first published in three volumes in 1860 by William Blackwood The first American edition was published by Harper Brothers, Publishers, New York The novel spans a period of 10 to 15 years and details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, siblings growing up at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss at its junction with the minor River Ripple near the village of St Ogg s in Lincolnshire, England The river and the village are fictional 1989 1368 628 9646736416 1381. I suspect between this novel and Middlemarch, George Eliot is becoming my favorite nineteenth century novelist I wish she were still alive so that I could write her fan letters.The Mill on the Floss is funny and moving and philosophical Eliot does so many different things well she s witty and detached, and then she writes a love scene that makes your knees go wobbly Middlemarch struck me the same way it s incredibly romantic, and then it does things with that romance, crazy thematic plot things, that sometimes make you feel like the author has punched you in the stomach.I think George Eliot and Joss Whedon would probably get along.The novel is also cool because it s sort of a novel about adultery without actually being about adultery It feels very modern and unflinching, the so because George Eliot actually spent much of her adult life in a happy but socially isolating relationship out of wedlock, so she had perspective on The System.The last couple hundred pages are incredibly intense, perhaps the so because I read them in one go on a very long train ride, most of which was spent on the edge of my not very comfortable seat It s one of those novels whose ending is absolutely unguessable and yet feels vitally important Holy crap, I asked myself, how is this going to end, and will I be able to live a happy and well adjusted life after I finish it I m still working on that happy and well adjusted part The ending well, is it ever an ending Words like mythic and apocalyptic do not give it justice I m still not sure how I feel about it in some ways she gave me just the ending I didn t want, but she did it in such a way that I had to admire Also, it is very, very intriguing and makes me want to write essays about it, which is usually a good thing.Great characters, great plot, great themes A very well rounded novel. If Life Had No Love In It, What Else Was There For Maggie Brought Up At Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver Worships Her Brother Tom And Is Desperate To Win The Approval Of Her Parents, But Her Passionate, Wayward Nature And Her Fierce Intelligence Bring Her Into Constant Conflict With Her Family As She Reaches Adulthood, The Clash Between Their Expectations And Her Desires Is Painfully Played Out As She Finds Herself Torn Between Her Relationships With Three Very Different Men Her Proud And Stubborn Brother, A Close Friend Who Is Also The Son Of Her Family S Worst Enemy, And A Charismatic But Dangerous Suitor With Its Poignant Portrayal Of Sibling Relationships, The Mill On The Floss Is Considered George Eliot S Most Autobiographical Novel It Is Also One Of Her Most Powerful And MovingIn This Edition Writer And Critic AS Byatt Provides Full Explanatory Notes And An Introduction Relating Mill On The Floss To George Eliot S Own Life And TimesEdited With An Introduction And Notes By AS BYATT George Elliot is both impressively encyclopaedic from Captain Swing to pedallers and narrowly individual education shaping young people to be able to do nothing in particular in this other tale of provincial life before the Railway Age One lesson here is that Nature repairs her ravages p490 but people don t The fatal flaw of bearing a grudge is passed down from father Tulliver to son Tom so underlining that The days of chivalry are not gone, notwithstanding Burke s grand dirge over them they live still in that far off worship paid by many a youth and man to that woman of whom he never dreams that he shall touch so much as her little finger or the hem of her robe Bob with pack on his back, has as respectful adoration for this dark eyed maiden as if he had been a knight in armour calling aloud on her name as he pricked on to the fight p266 so to Tom jealously guards his inherited grudge against the Wakems for whom it has all been just business.It struck me that Elliot must have been a reader herself and I felt was defining her heroine in relation to a dozen others familiar to mid Victorian readers A Gretna green marriage or life as a teacher not for her girl Neither Villette nor the proper Victorian solution of marriage to the most eligible bachelor that the town has to offer or to the parish priest which itself as we know from Middlemarch is not an ending but only the beginning of a story for a woman of intelligence offer any hope here, Elliot is much meaner with her characters Life for her is work without short cuts The plot of the family prosperity eaten up by a court case struck me as a bit Bleak House, on the downside the eventual ending is foreshadowed very early on making it clear that is only ever going to be semi autobiographical at most Because the provincial girl we know, did grow up to write a secular gospel in her novels as answer to Matthew Arnold s Dover Beach, The sea of Faith may withdraw, but literature covers the naked shingles of the shore Fittingly for a book in which education is a central theme although the educations provided don t match the needs of those taught in a world in which the central concern is to lend out your money at five percent rather than four whenever possible Maggie imagines a cross between sir Walter Scott an Byron as potentially satisfying but maybe Elliot is offering up her own books as an answer to life s problems we have in the vision of the ruined Rhine castles of the robber barons a sense of the insufficiency of medieval attitudes to the honour of debt and repayment in the modern age Times change Does Eliot teach us how to live better lives in these changed times On reflection I don t much like the great flood she uses to close the story just as in the inundation myths it suggests the creator has run out of ideas and can find no way of resolving the narrative having as per above rejected solutions that other authors found acceptable and so has nothing left but for to wash the slate clean Despite proposing herself as the answer to unsatisfactory reading, this iss till an apprentice work in which character is stronger than plot for all that she disapproves of Novalis claiming that character is destiny her story seems to me to bear out his suggestion since none of her characters escape the destiny which their characters point towards within this society. Ah, the classic tale of Maggie Tulliver and the four men she loves How they destroy her, how she destroys them, and how they all end up irredemptively miserable Or dead In most cases, both.So why read it Because it s beautiful Because it opens up your heart and mind in powerful ways Because you will LOVE and truly feel for Maggie Or just because you want to read one of those stories that makes you think, See my life isn t that bad Maggie is amazingly intelligent, but she can t be educated because she s a worthless woman She wants to save her family from financial ruin, but she s uneducated, so she doesn t know how She wants to open herself up to friendship, but family grudges prevent her She wants to follow the man she loves, but in doing so she will betray her best friends and be rejected entirely by her society Pretty much her whole life sucks full of split alternatives No matter what she chooses, she will make herself and others miserable This all proves that George Eliot is a woman capable of Thomas Hardy level depression And yes, George Eliot is a woman don t feel bad, it took me years to figure that out The theme of the story is a struggle between passion personified by Maggie and duty personified by her brother, Tom Maggie absolutely lives and breathes for Tom s love and approval However, if she follows her heart and her passions, her brother rejects her in fact, he literally hates her and tells her so On the other hand, if she stifles her own desires and surrenders her very self to duty, she is miserable And Tom still doesn t give her any credit If there s one literary character I m glad I m not, it s probably Maggie Tulliver.I was introduced to this story when I saw Helen Edmundson s phenomenal play adaptation at the Shared Experience theater in London if you re anywhere near London, PLEASE VISIT THIS THEATER RIGHT NOW Edmundson drew an amazing allegory between Maggie s life and the old fire and water witch trials Centuries ago, some genius came up with a brilliant plan of how to tell if an accused witch was guilty As everyone knows, witches and ONLY witches can float in water Duh So you simply throw an accused witch into the depths of the sea If she floats, she s guilty, and you melt her flesh at the stake However, if she sinks to the bottom and dies choking in water while her lungs collapse, she s innocent Congratulations You ve been absolved Now you can live out your life in wait a second Yeah, I told you these people were geniuses There is no perfect parallel for Maggie s hopeless life filled with impossible alternatives.I honestly can t think of a single thing that could have happened to make this story sadder And the most depressing part of all it s almost entirely autobiographical.I m gonna go cry now. 4.5Funny how the title of a book can put you off reading it, making it sound boring, especially to your younger self, and how that preconception can stick with you through the years I felt that way about Cather s Death Comes for the Archbishop until I finally read some Cather and I felt that way about this title A mill as a main character And what in the world is a floss The mill is a driving force, yet Maggie is the main character and it s easy to see the young girl as the portrait of a young Eliot Her love of and pride in her reading is tolerated condescendingly in the community an intelligent woman is not a good thing, as even her proud father makes plain to her From early on, one senses the doom that hangs over Maggie, a female dissatisfied with the limits of provincial life, yearning for , while fiercely loving her home and her family A passage about books and reading and a millworker not wanting to know anything of fellow creatures in the wider world had me thinking about Eliot s continuing relevance, though she is not mocking this man Eliot is empathetic toward all her characters, telling and it is telling, not showing, in that 19th century literature way the reader than once not to think too poorly of this or that character, even one I inwardly sighed over every time she appeared Though the ending is beautifully written, and I realize it s of its time period, I was disappointed with it, especially with whom Maggie s fate is ultimately tied to, as I found the description out of that person s character, though true to Maggie and to the novel s theme.I can t speak to Death Comes for the Archbishop I still haven t read it but if I d read The Mill on the Floss as a young adult, I have a feeling it would ve been as precious to me as Maggie s few books were to her. Once upon a time I read an article that said that romantic love was invented around the years 1200 by the Troubadours those persons, dressed in puffy pants, walking around and playing lutes, singing about their lady love By their songs they elevated the woman onto a pedestal and long ceaselessly for her as a matter of fact the whole point of chivalrous love being that it was never consummated considering that the object of romantic love is not really a human being, it s an idealized image, perhaps a fragmented memory belonging to a person we once knew but, of course, it is not precisely known if from present life, past life or even future lifeAs then, as now it was a sexist age it was all about a man adoring a woman, and the point was to idealize the beloved but never come down to earth for love s trials and tribulations On a deeper level, if a true search is done, we might be surprised to learn that not the fact that romantic love didn t exist before that time hard to conceive of that, truly those people who invented it, were actually singing to God a god, or a deity, or whatever had some supernatural powers , not a woman I find this fascinating and, in a way, quite normal Times however perverted this sort of love and romantic love reached to be cover up for a yearning that is spiritual, not necessarily a desire for a human person The essence of romantic love is about pinning pointing towards something that s actually not achievable on a physical plane One is in pain longing for this perfect person who doesn t exist and can t have And, as ever, I find Kahlil Gibran s quote resonating better, Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding Having to deal with pain, not necessarily a suffering of the body, then something deep breaks your heart and then you get an opportunity hopefully if it is not missed to understand, and to develop compassion for yourself and others pain and suffering, struggles and battles And then, as the cherry on top of the pie, love starts becoming available and let loose of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.The first innocence is going to go, has to go And it is good that it goes IF it continues, one will not really be a man human Nature lives in the first innocence, only man is capable of losing it In a way, it is a great dignity, it is a glory as only man is capable of committing sin , no other animal can Except for man, all the animals, birds and trees still exist in the Garden of Eden they never left it actually That s why nature has such beauty, such peace, such silence As it looks, to be satisfied with the first innocence is to remain unconscious However, Life being hard and difficult as so it has been propagated down the centuries it is only by going wrong that consciousness arises But, going wrong is not really going wrong, because only through it does the consciousness arise All has to be lost Well, symbolically to be lost it is always much better or preferred, rather than in a tangible sort of way A flood, an over flood however is really powerful It can wash away everything and make it pure, crystal clear from the scratch theoretically we can assume it, practically it is never so pure any, never a smooth surface, never a clear shinning layer So, this is where Maggie is heading towards she has to come to the point where all is lost, God is lost, heaven is lost one cannot believe in paradise, and one cannot believe that innocence is possible Only from that peak of frustration, anguish, anxiety is there a possibility of a one hundred and eighty degree turn.The first innocence is always with the child as a matter of fact, you can always see happiness around him her The child is the first kind of hedonist if there is a belief certainly, it has one then there is eating, drinking and being merry, living the moment, no clouds yet his sky is clear.Growing up the human goes into a chaos The old cosmos, the old first innocence simply falls into pieces not even a trace is left Maggie became interested in higher things, in knowing things We may doubtless say she ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and she started becoming conscious She started trying to understand what this her reality is, moving into knowing and suddenly the doors of the Garden are closed for her Suddenly she finds herself outside the Garden, and she does not know where the way back is well, at least for a transient period she has to go farther and farther away.But, even for an old fashioned family, the vision of life is can be far complete even if superficially it seems it is linear unity, then complexity, then concentration, then direction And the direction goes on and on, the arrow goes on for infinity, it never comes back That is how the family story seems to go this is logical but not natural Nature, on the other hand, moves in a circle, seasons move in a circle, stars move in a circle, man s life moves in a circle Everything moves in a circle, not in a line The circle is the way of the nature This is well emphasized both at the beginning and the closing of the novel The line does not exist in the nature Euclid believed in line non Euclidean geometry says there is nothing like line in existence The line also is part of a bigger circle, that s all Still, my suggestion is that evolution is spiral neither linear nor circular In this way both are joined together, the progress moves as if it is moving in a line, because it never comes to exactly the same point again.Would there be a conclusion line, still Yes, certainly Would be like saying Don t go on playing with your wound This continuous fingering of the wound will not allow it to heal And who wants to look at a wound That s is to say better to be happy, become a flower bloom.So, there seem to be three things that happened to Maggie she is in the dark night of the soul, in a very unloving space basically within herself That is why she has to be, to feel, to exist in a loving space, but a loving space is anxiety creating it is conflict, it is struggle, because then a real person enters into your life And there is obviously clash and an overlapping of the boundaries and all kinds of diplomacies, strategies to dominate, to possess enter There is great war it is the way things are The loving ones start acting as intimate enemies But, only out of that experience, does one grow further one becomes independent And, assumedly, now there is no need for love One can live alone, and one can live alone as happily as one can live in relationship On this level, there is no difference.PS Oh, Yes, yesterday it was a full moon in Aries As per experts opinion this is a time to dedicate on themes of power, initiation, self healing rebirth Mostly death rebirth and it is the power of re generation the power to choose again, and choose wisely, to change the form all together Experts, again, say that Death of form is a gift because it gives us the opportunity to change what has bound us and limited our growth, that is especially for those of us mostly catalogued as free thinkers we could be acting as magicians, alchemists and avatars And then, we are given the opportunity to journey through a most transformational period of our soul s development It can be dark and deep at times but for a good reason we cannot go ahead without it It s high time to re discover what is hidden so that it can assist what we see in our surroundings No hiding, no shrinking from our creative power If it is blocked or lost in the chaos then it s time to reclaim it and own it Magic is all around us the frequency of change and the dark feminine gift of rebirth As for my part I ll use this beneficial aspect for a bit of business travelling to enjoy of the sun and sea absorption, and hopefully, some of the fine sand not just dry stones and rocks It was high time I can t imagine an Eliot book that I wouldn t like, and this one is no exception I don t think I m quite as enthusiastic about it as I am about Middlemarch, but it is still an absorbing read It follows the fluctuating fortunes of a family who occupy a mill on the Floss River I love alliteration The main character, Maggie, is a precocious, imaginative child at the beginning and grows into a lovely, fascinating young woman There are Eliot s usual philosophical observations on human behavior, as insightful as always As usual, Eliot holds up for scrutiny various aspects of familial relationships and societal s The parent child relationship is important, but the one really examined in this novel is the sibling relationship The relationship between Maggie and her brother Tom is always at the forefront since Maggie adores her brother and strives for his approval for the length of the story Offsetting this are the strong bonds between Maggie s mother Mrs Tulliver and her sisters, and that of Mr Tulliver and his sister Both Mr and Mrs Tulliver s siblings play a big part in the story, especially Mrs Tulliver s She comes from the close knit and very proper Dodson clan, and they are deeply involved in each others lives The question arises of how far loyalty should go for a sibling who has made choices of which one disapproves, how much personal sacrifice does one make to save that sibling from the consequences of his or her bad choices SPOILER When Maggie s family is wiped out financially, she stumbles onto a book that introduces the concept of self sacrifice to her, and she latches onto this philosophy with a fervor This shift in focus away from personal joy to the joy of helping others helps sustain her, but, being Maggie, she carries it to extremity She becomes willing to sacrifice her entire future and any personal happiness to avoid bringing pain to those she cares about I loved Maggie, but her penchant for self sacrifice became frustrating to me Maggie loves Philip, but not in a romantic way He loves her and wants to marry her, though, so she regards herself as spiritually promised to him At the same time, she refuses to actually marry him because doing so will make her brother unhappy Then Maggie meets Stephen, the almost fiance of her beloved cousin Lucy Despite their struggles to avoid it, they fall desperately in love with each other I found the knotty problem this presented very interesting Maggie and Stephen impulsively elope, but Maggie has second thoughts and cannot live with the guilt of the pain her marriage will cause Lucy and Philip The question then arises what should Maggie and Stephen do once they have fallen in love with each other Which is morally reprehensible to stay quiet and marry people they don t love out of obligation and pity, or admit their feelings, express remorse for the pain caused by this turn of fate, and free their partners to find true love, not just the appearance of it I have to admit, I m not sure I would have had the strength of will to deny my feelings, especially after the elopement had taken place and it would be clear to everyone what the true situation was At that point, the pain had already been dealt Both Lucy and Philip would know Maggie and Stephen s true feelings Once they know that, I m not sure the question of whether or not they had consummated their love, or even married, would matter as much How could Lucy take Stephen back even if he asked, knowing that he actually loves Maggie How can Philip still press Maggie into marriage, knowing that she loves Stephen It s quite a touchy situation, with no easy solution.I wasn t crazy about the ending I knew that there would be no happy ending Maggie s own nature, her propensity for metaphorical self immolation, precluded that I read a review that attributed Maggie s and Tom s fates to the timelessness of nature, and how the power of nature forms a proper context for the pettiness of human problems, and I can definitely see that But there was also a gnawing sense of a cop out Maggie was on a precipice with nowhere to go She still desperately loves Stephen, but cannot allow herself to be with him Yet he has written her a pleading letter that draws her against her will She is ruined in the town she is not acknowledged by anyone of social consequence, her employer has been driven to fire her due to public opinion, and no one else will hire her Despite all this, she wants to stay close to her family and home, which means either leaving or staying will mean misery for her What to do with her Have her die in a flood However, I feel that I lack the literary talent to question the ending chosen by one of the best writers in the Western Canon, so I bow to Eliot s superior literary sense.Despite my dissatisfaction with the ending, Eliot s writing is always a treasure trove of beautiful prose and astute observations on the human condition Highly recommended