Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot

I put this book off for far too long.  Once I actually picked it up and got started, I enjoyed it as much as I expected to--I quite like George Eliot and loved Middlemarch when I read it a few years back.  Someday I'll do a re-read of it.

The essay at the end of my copy thinks that Maggie chooses wrongly; that she clings to a useless idea of doing what's right when the damage is already done.  I disagree.  I think Maggie does her best with what she's got, which is very little.  Her determination not to build her happiness on others' misery is, in my opinion, a good course to take.  I do think she should have moved away and started over.  And I think she and the Guest fellow probably could have just been honest in the first place and not done too much damage.  But once Guest pulled his stunt, she chose the right course.

I don't really like Stephen Guest at all, though.  I think Maggie is better off without him, which is possibly a little stubborn of me given that she ends up miserable and then dead.  I think he's shallow and selfish and ridiculously arrogant, but then perhaps most early Victorian young men were!

Tell me what you thought of Maggie and Stephen; I'd like to know.

2 comments:

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

Maggie is a wonderful heroine. Just the kind of character young or youngish or not so young readers will identify with, fall in love with, etc. A heroine worthy of Jane Austen.

Guest shares the flaw of the final third, or the flaws as I see them, that Maggie's adolescence is just not as interesting as her childhood, and the new supporting characters are not as interesting as her family.

I need to reread Middlemarch, too. That is a complex book.

Emily Hubbard said...

I love Maggie and I feel the same way--I think she did her best with what she had, and I think she was right to try to do the moral thing. And I don't care for Stephen that much either; I think she deserved better than him. He reminded me of a few boys I knew when I was younger, and I was very easily smitten with that type of person at the time (thankfully, I married someone who's not like that at all). So I know why Maggie is so attracted to him, but I'm glad she doesn't end up with him.