After the lecture, it seemed clear to me that The Mill on the Floss is very much a social commentary on the everyday lives of English people in the 1830’s. Eliot portrays all her characters with an astute realism; she seems to understand human nature and the social and political conditions of the time so well that her book reads quite intelligently and perhaps even didactically. At times, Eliot’s humour reminded me of Dickens. When describing Tom’s painful experiences with education, she writes it is “as if he had been plied with cheese in order to remedy a gastric weakness which prevented him from digesting it [the classics and geometry]” (139-140). Descriptions such as this show Eliot to be a clever woman. Throughout Eliot’s novel, I found that all characters are portrayed with such depth that they really seem like living, breathing people, such as Mr. Tulliver with his profound love for Maggie and similarly his sister Mrs. Moss as well as his stubbornness and perplexity to the changing times. I find it impressive that none of the characters are ‘flat’ or uninteresting in any way. Mrs Tulliver, although is apparently not as smart as her husband, still has her own philosophy to life, such as that she cares about Tom being fed well and being washed, which is important, and she foresees Maggie being “drownded” one day which comes to be true. One of the things that I find interesting in the novel, is the theme of education. While Maggie seems to represent the bookish type of education, Tom on the other hand, embodies the practical kind. Is it any good for a person suited for the hands-on, practical type of education to be opened (if not forced) to learn from books–Latin, the classics, mathematics and abstract thinking? What about the other way around? What does this say about adaptability, survival and common sense?
Eliot and Human Nature
Posted in blogs, lb4-2014 | Tagged with GEliot, George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss