The Mill on the Floss
George Eliot's novel The Mill on the Floss, orginally published in 1860 as three volumes, tells of the lives of brother and sister Tom and Maggie Tulliver as they grow up upon the River Floss. (From feedbooks.com)
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How does the author personify the river here?
The word "Floss" in this context refers to a river.
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
What is the central topic of Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver's conversation in the opening of this chapter?
Are you having a hard time with the manner of speech that is written in the dialogue? The author is writing to show the characters' dialects. Watch the following video on language and dialect to further understand the characters' manner of speech. Also, as you adjust to this dialect, it may help to read portions of the dialogue aloud so that you can actually hear the words as they are meant to be pronounced. (This annotation contains a video)
How is Maggie characterized in this chapter?
Below is an example of one of Raphael's paintings of Madonna, as mentioned in this paragraph. Why do you think the author includes this detail? (This annotation contains an image)
Old Harry is a reference to the devil (Satan). It was common for people during this time and place to use a variety of "nicknames" for Satan... Look for these references as you progress through the text.
How is Mr. Tulliver characterized thus far? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your analysis.
What does this statement tell you about the attitudes towards women during this time period?
Watch the following video on denotations and connotations. What does the connotation of the word "twinkling" tell you about Mr. Tulliver's feelings towards Maggie? (This annotation contains a video)
Why doesn't Maggie feel "inclined to see after her mother" here? What does this tell us about Maggie?
Which of the following is the best explanation of the line "he's slow with his tongue"?
During this time period, early nineteenth-century England, public schools were not yet available. Furthermore, children were not required to attend school. As such, parents, such as Mr. Tulliver here, generally sought out boarding schools or private tutors if they wanted their children to be educated.
It sounds almost as though Mr. Riley is trying to "sell" this idea of Mr. Stelling serving as Tom's teacher. What do you think of Mr. Riley's intentions here? Provide at least one example from the text to support your explanation.
Examine the details in the highlighted lines. What can you infer about Maggie based on this paragraph?
The narrator informs us that Mr. Riley, indeed, has an ulterior motive for recommending Mr. Stelling... Note his motivations as they are revealed.
Notice how the narrator tells us to withhold our judgement of Mr. Riley. Why does the narrator tell us to do this?
What is highlighted about Maggie and Mrs. Tulliver's relationship in these opening paragraphs?
Notice the different dialects between Maggie and Luke. Maggie speaks in a more formal, educated manner. What does this tell you about her?
What can you infer about Maggie based on the detail regarding the rabbits?
Why does Maggie ponder this thought? What is the significance of the closing lines of this chapter?
What best describes Mrs. Tulliver's reaction to seeing Tom return home?
Which of the following words suggest that Maggie is feeling nervous here?
Why might the author want the reader to know that Maggie feared Tom's anger because it was "different from her own"?
Notice the poetic quality of this line. The author, whose real name is Mary Ann Evans, was also a poet (she wrote under the male name George Eliot so that her writing would be taken more seriously, as female writers were generally stereotyped during her time period). Read an example of Eliot's poetry by clicking the link below: (This annotation contains a link)
How would you describe Maggie and Tom's relationship? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your analysis.
The details in this passage suggest
Watch the following video on imagery and identify the moments of imagery in the highlighted paragraph. How does the imagery enhance your understanding of this scene? (This annotation contains a video)
What does the highlighted line suggest?
The narrator, for most of the novel, is omniscient; however, this novel is unique in that the narrator will occasionally break into the first person point of view, using pronouns such as “I” (as seen in this paragraph) and speaking to the reader as “you.” Watch the following video on narration and point of view to gain more insight into the perspective of this text. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is true of the Dodson family?
Use the dictionary tool to look up this word. Why does the author include this detail?
Consider why the author chooses to include these small scenes from Tom and Maggie's childhood. What might be the author's purpose in conveying these details? What is the effect of these descriptive interactions between the two siblings? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your response.
What does this further reveal about Maggie's character or about her relationship with Tom?
Read the highlighted paragraph. What does Maggie do to make herself feel better?
Pay attention, once again, to the different manner of speech between the characters. What can can a character's dialect or manner of speech possibly tell you about an individual in this novel?
What is the most likely explanation for the author italicizing the words "I" in the highlighted dialogue?
Look at the diction and connotations here. What do you picture when you hear the words "harassed" and "throttling"? How do these words and actions shape your perception of Tom?
Examine how Tom reacts when he feels he is confronted with an injustice, such as when Maggie chooses the better pastry or when he accuses Bob of cheating. How does Maggie react differently when confronted with something that upsets her? Provide at least two examples to support your analysis.
Observe the extensive characterization in the opening paragraphs of Chapter Seven. Watch the following video on how characters develop and consider the author's purpose in including such detailed characterization. (This annotation contains a video)
How is Mrs. Glegg related to the Tullivers?
A sentence punctuated with an exclamation point is known as an "exclamatory sentence." This type of punctuation is generally used to add emphasis or show emotion. What is the effect of the exclamatory sentence here?
Why does Mrs. Glegg find Mrs. Pullet's grief to be uncalled for?
How does the author emphasize the differences between Maggie and Lucy here?
Notice the imagery and connotations in the description of Lucy. What is your initial impression of this character?
This statement is in reference to Maggie's hair. How would you feel if you were Maggie here, openly criticized by your aunts?
Review the highlighted lines. What does Mrs. Tulliver's command reveal about her character?
Watch a brief clip of this hair cutting scene from the 1997 film adaptation of the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the film clip of the hair cutting scene. Compare the text to the film...What is emphasized or absent in the film version of this scene? Furthermore, what is the author's purpose in showing the reader this moment? Provide at least one example from either the book or the film to support your analysis.
The highlighted paragraph includes which of the following sentence types?
We already know that Maggie, overall, is much more emotional than Tom; however, Tom shows her a bit of compassion and sweetness here. What is your reaction to this interaction?
What does the connotation "sharply" suggest about Mr. Tulliver's feelings here?
Picture these details as if you were watching them performed in a film or on stage. How might an actor convey these actions?
What do you think of Mr. Glegg's response here?
Which of the following is the most accurate summary of Mr. Wakem, as stated by Mr. Tulliver in the highlighted lines?
Notice the contradiction between the punctuation and the connotations. Mr. Glegg uses an exclamatory sentence while declaring "Dear heart!" but he speaks in a "melancholy" tone. What does this contradiction suggest about his feelings here?
The issue of "family" will be a central theme throughout this book. Examine the family dynamics presented in Chapter Seven. What do you see as being the most notable or significant details about the family here? How might these details connect with this emerging "family" theme?
Why does Mr. Tulliver suddenly want to repay Mrs. Glegg the money the family owes her?
Observe Mr. Tulliver's attitude towards "poor" people and things throughout this chapter (and as the text progresses).
What does the word "humor" mean in the context of this sentence?
Continue to look for the theme of family as you read the novel. How does Mr. Tulliver's relationship and interactions with his sister, Mrs. Moss, differ from his interactions with Mrs. Tulliver's sisters in the previous chapter?
What does this paragraph tell us about Mr. Tulliver's feelings for Maggie and his own sister?
What best describes Mr. Tulliver's tone towards Mr. Moss here?
Are you surprised Mr. Tulliver decides to return here? What does this tell us about his personality?
Explain the meaning of the highlighted lines in this paragraph. How does this paragraph, as well as this chapter, connect with the emerging theme of family?
How does the author characterize Lucy's reaction here?
Continue to examine Tom and Maggie's relationship through these interactions. In what ways are they strikingly different?
Why is Maggie's heart beating "rapidly" here?
How is Mrs. Pullet characterized thus far?
What is the author's purpose in including the highlighted details about these cakes?
Although Maggie may not be behaving quite as well as Lucy, notice how people speak to her in this chapter. Do you think their treatment is warranted?
What does the word "gells" mean in the context of this sentence?
What "case" is the narrator referring to here?
This chapter serves several important purposes, one being to emphasize the differences between Lucy and Maggie. Identify three distinct differences between these two young female characters by citing specific examples from the text to support your response.
This is a bit of a cliff-hanger here... How does the author achieve a feeling of suspense at the close of this chapter?
The narrator is employing a technique called "flashback" here. Watch the following video on flashback to gain more insight into how the opening of this chapter is structured. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is the best summary of the highlighted line?
What truly motivates Maggie to push Lucy in the mud?
The issue of justice may be an emerging theme in this novel... How does Tom respond when he feels confronted with an issue wherein he feels someone must be punished?
This is a rather peculiar observation... Pay close attention to Mrs. Tulliver's words here. What words stand out as having particularly striking connotations?
What does Mrs. Tulliver fear has happened to Maggie when they cannot find her?
Explain why Maggie has run off to be with the gypsies. Why might the author want the reader to see her make this choice?
Notice the sudden change in paragraph length. As we explore Maggie's shifting thoughts and imagination, the paragraph is extended without pause or breaks.
What has happened to the money in Maggie's pocket?
Observe Maggie's naive and trusting nature. Do you think it is a good idea for her to be so trusting of these strangers?
What does the highlighted excerpt reveal about Maggie?
Observe Maggie's very vivid and active imagination. What do you think the gypsies really intend to do with her?
Although the styles of bonnets may have varied at this time, view the image below to see one of the actresses from the film adaption of The Mill on the Floss wearing her bonnet. Is this what you picture Maggie wearing? (This annotation contains an image)
How does the close of this chapter connect with one of the emerging themes of the novel? Provide at least one example from the text to support your analysis.
Theme of this tale introduces one of the central themes of the novel. What is the primary theme expressed by this tale, as emphasized in the highlighted lines?
The Blessed Virgin refers to Mary, the Mother of Jesus (as identified in the Bible and in the Quran).
Do you notice the repeated references to concerns about floods and the water? Why do you think the author continues to revisit these issues?
What is the author's purpose in including this detail?
Based on the highlighted lines, what can you infer about Mr. Tulliver?
In what ways are Mr. and Mrs. Glegg different?
Notice the use of italics as Mr. and Mrs. Glegg quarrel with one another. How does the italics influence your understanding of their tone?
Summarize the disagreement between Mr. and Mrs. Glegg in this chapter. Why are they fighting and what is the author's purpose in including their dialogue in this chapter?
Why do you think Mrs. Glegg changes her mind about asking the Tullivers to repay their debt right now?
Which of the following words could appropriately replace the word "civil," as it is used in the context of this paragraph?
What "catastrophe" is the narrator referring to here?
From whom does Mr. Tulliver borrow the money to repay Mrs. Glegg?
Part One of this novel is titled "Boy and Girl." Now we are embarking on Part Two, titled "School Time." The author certainly has a purpose for structuring her novel in this manner. Watch the following video on "Elements of a Story" to reflect on the author's overall structure and organization of the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Before beginning the first chapter of Part Two, reflect on the author's purpose in Part One. How does Part One contribute to the text and what primary purpose does Part One serve? Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on elements of plot in order to further develop your response.
What can you infer about Mr. Stelling's instruction?
Which of the following can you infer about Tom's intelligence?
It sounds as though Tom's lessons are not going well... Knowing how the children were characterized in Part One, how do you think Maggie would do, instead of Tom, in these lessons?
Based on what Mr. Tulliver had hoped Tom would gain from his lessons with Mr. Stelling, do you think Latin is an essential component to Tom's education?
Euclid was a Greek mathematician, commonly known as the "Father of Geometry." The statue shown below, from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, is intended to represent an image of Euclid in his honor. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about Tom based on his fondness for spending time with Laura?
Have you noticed how often the author includes the negative attitudes about women and education? Some critics suggest that the character Maggie is loosely based on the author's own experiences as a child. Visit the following website to read more about George Eliot's background and education: (This annotation contains a link)
Mr. Tulliver seems to appreciate Maggie's intelligence more than most other people in the novel. Refer to the previous annotation to read more about the author's own educational background... What do you think is the author's purpose in highlighting the many negative attitudes about women and education during this time period? Provide at least one example from the author's background (derived from the website) to support your response.
How does the author add emphasis to the characters' reactions here?
Examine the connotations here, particularly words such as "seized" and "business-like air." How does this diction further shape your understanding of Tom?
A fortnight is fourteen days.
What might be a potential reason for the author to include this particular detail?
Which of the following rhetorical devices does the author employ in this opening line of Chapter Two?
Note the details in this section... Why does Tom feel that Christmas isn't "quite so happy as it had always been before"?
This line is in reference to entering into a lawsuit, and it is not surprising to hear that his family does not want Mr. Tulliver to get involved in such matters. England's legal system underwent many changes during the early and mid-nineteenth century. As the legal system became more modernized, lawsuits were far more common; however, because many people were unfamiliar with how the legal process worked, individuals would commonly lose money in these endeavors.
Summarize Mr. Tulliver's issue with Mr. Privart. Cite at least one example from the text to support your response.
Note how often Mr. Wakem is mentioned as the complications of the novel build. We haven't met him yet, but we often hear of his sneaky and evil nature. Do you think he will be an important character?
Why does Mr. Tulliver want Tom to be kind to Mr. Wakem's son?
Why does Mr. Stelling leave Philip and Tom alone so soon after meeting?
Philip is described as have having a hunchback, however, it is also possible that Philip suffers from a form spinal abnormality such as scoliosis (image shown below), which was not treatable during this time period. People with any type of deformity or disorder were often shunned during this time, so it is likely that Philip has endured a great deal of hostility in his life. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice the differences between Tom and Philip--not only on a physical level, but on a academic and social / emotional level. Do the differences between Tom and Philip remind you of any other markedly different characters from the novel?
What difference between Tom and Philip is emphasized in this highlighted dialogue?
Tom and Philip are described as having very little in common. Upon further examination, one may note that the differences between Tom and Philip are similar to the differences between Tom and Maggie. With this thought, compare Philip and Maggie. In what ways are these two characters similar? Provide at least three examples from the text to support your analysis.
The narrator is providing us with some much needed information about education during this time period. What are some of the major flaws of the educational processes at this time?
What is one of the benefits of Tom's education from Mr. Stelling?
This reference to Jupiter and Semele is an allusion to Greek / Roman mythology. An allusion occurs when an author makes a direct or indirect reference to a person, place, idea, or thing of historical, political, cultural, or literary significance.
Based on the diction and connotations in the highlighted lines, which of the following best describes Tom's feelings here?
Are you surprised by this awful reaction and prejudice towards Philip? We can assume that Philip has been forced to endure these attitudes for his entire life... How do you think these attitudes may have influenced his personality?
Evaluate the author's purpose in revealing this conflict between Philip and Tom. In particular, why might the author want us to see their dialogue here?
Why might the author include these details about Mrs. Stelling? Does her characterization contrast or highlight any of the emerging themes thus far?
What does the line, "and in Philip the transition seemed to have begun" mean?
Why do you think Maggie is so quickly drawn to Philip?
What does the line "loved Tom's shadow" mean in the context of this passage?
This is a very astute observation of Maggie... Do you agree with Philip's observation of her?
What does the word "trembled" in describing Tom's wrist suggest about his ability to hold the sword?
Once again the author leaves the reader in suspense at the end of the chapter... What do you think has happened to Tom's foot? Do you think it will be a serious injury?
This is an allusion to another Greek myth; however, it is important to note that Philip has actually changed (or forgot) the details of the story... According to the myth, Philoctetes was actually put ashore because his wound had a foul odor. Why do you think the author includes this altered detail?
Evaluate the feelings between Maggie and Philip. How does Maggie feel about him? How does this interaction connect with one (or more) of the emerging themes of the novel? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your response.
This line provides us with a bit more insight into Philip's world... Do you think he is lonely?
Why doesn't Mr. Tulliver want Tom to become too close of friends with Philip?
The narrator informs us that a great deal of time has passed since the end of the last chapter. How old do you think Tom is here?
Who, along with Mr. Tulliver, was likely involved in this lawsuit?
Which of the following best describes Tom's "awakening" here?
What do you think Maggie means when she says that Mr. Tulliver has "lost his senses"?
As the author brings us to the conclusion of Part Two, she also brings us to the conclusion of Tom and Maggie's childhood. Consider this progression as you read William Shakespeare's famous poem "All the World's a Stage," wherein Shakespeare compares the cycles of life (aging) to a performance. (This annotation contains a link)
Refer to the previous annotation to read William Shakespeare's poem "All the World's a Stage." List all seven "stages" of life that Shakespeare notes in this poem, and identify which "stage" Maggie and Tom currently leave behind in this chapter. Based on the poem's "stages," what do you think might come next for Maggie and Tom? Provide at least one example from each text (the novel and the poem) to support your response.
Did you notice that the title of Part Three is called "The Downfall"? What does that title suggest about the tone of this section of the novel?
What technique is the author employing to revisit the events that caused Mr. Tulliver's financial ruin?
What are the implications of Mr. Wakem having taken over the mortgage on the mill?
Based on the details in these highlighted lines, which of the following is likely true of Mrs. Tulliver's sisters?
This line brings us back to when the previous chapter took place... The author utilized flashback for most of this chapter in order to recount the events that lead to Mr. Tulliver's financial ruin.
A bailiff, at this time, was basically a court officer. He is likely here to collect the fines, money, and / or property that was lost in the lawsuit.
What does Mrs. Tulliver seem the most upset about here?
Why does the author describe Mrs. Tulliver's eyes as "childish" here? What does this connotation suggest about her?
Maggie, Tom, and Mrs. Tulliver all have different reactions upon seeing the bailiff come to the house (signaling their loss of possessions). Evaluate how each character responds to their losses. What does each response reveal about the individual characters?
Why is Mrs. Tulliver's voice "rather agitated" as she responds to Susan here?
Why is Mrs. Pullet crying?
There are an array of conflicts in this chapter, some of which are internal and some of which are external. Watch the following video on internal and external conflicts to identify the difference. (This annotation contains a video)
The discourse here between Mr. and Mrs. Glegg is an example of which of the following? (Note: refer to the previous annotation for clarification on conflict.)
Are you surprised at some of the reactions from the Tulliver's extended family, particularly from Mrs. Tulliver's sisters regarding the Tullivers' misfortune? Evaluate one of the characters' reactions in this chapter. What message does this reaction send (in other words, what might be the author's purpose in showing the reader this type of reaction)?
Note how Tom has spoken up here... Are you, like everyone else in this scene, surprised?
Who does "that lady" refer to in this line? Why does the author refer to the character in this way?
How does the author emphasize Maggie's demeanor here?
In what way is Mr. Tulliver's sister, Mrs. Moss, different from Mrs. Tulliver's sisters here?
What does Tom's willingness to forgive the the debt the Mosses owe to the family reveal about his character?
Notice, once again, Mrs. Tulliver's obsession with her belongings... Do you think this should be her main concern here?
Sympathy and compassion are two central themes in this text... How have these themes evolved over the course of the text thus far? In what way(s) did the author address these themes in this chapter?
According to the description and dialogue, what has happened to Mr. Tulliver here?
Note the exclamatory sentences... What emotion(s) is the author trying to express here?
What does the narrator inform us of Mr. Tulliver's death here?
What do you think this title means? It is possible that the author means this title as a figure of speech (figurative language). Watch the following video on figurative versus literal language to distinguish the difference between the two: (This annotation contains a video)
What best summarizes the actions of the highlighted lines?
Tom's own uncle makes him wait a half an hour before speaking with him... What is your reaction to this?
What do you think Mr. Deane means in these lines?
Summarize the conversation between Tom and Mr. Deane in this chapter. Why does the author include this interaction?
Why would Tom "rather die" than cry right now?
Which of the following literary techniques is present in Mr. Deane's spoken line here?
Notice how the author uses both figurative language and imagery to highlight Tom's feelings here.
Why does Tom lash out at Maggie in anger here?
Provide an example of imagery and figurative language from the highlighted paragraph. What is the effect of each of these rhetorical techniques?
Why does Mrs. Tulliver appear to have "aged ten years" since the loss of her possessions? What does this tell you about her character?
Do remember Bob Jakin? He was the boy whom Tom once accused of cheating while they played a game. Why do you think he has suddenly reappeared at this moment in the novel?
Why are Maggie's eyes "filling with tears" here?
Notice Bob's dialect... This, along with the details about his job, tell us that he is of a lower class than Tom and Maggie. Considering his lack of wealth, are you surprised that he offers to help the Tullivers?
Bob Jakins is described as being incredibly kind and compassionate, especially considering his eagerness to help Tom and Maggie in their time of need. Considering these qualities, with which character does Bob starkly contrast?
The mill, which is also referenced in the title, is a building that has the tools and power to do grinding (often grinding grain into flour). View an example of an 18th century mill below. Do you think this is what Mr. Tulliver's mill might look like? (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the events that cause Tom's sadness here. List at least three contributing factors to support your response.
What can you infer is part of Mrs. Tulliver's "plan" here?
Notice how Mrs. Tulliver tries to appease Mr. Wakem... What words and actions does she employ to try and convince Mr. Wakem in this section?
This is a troubling detail... Do you think Mrs. Tulliver just disclosed information that Mr. Wakem would have otherwise remained unaware? How has Mrs. Tulliver's "intervening" here added to the complications of the novel?
Why does Mrs. Tulliver believe that her husband would not work for Mr. Wakem?
Summarize Mr. Wakem's motivation for buying the mill. What do these motivations reveal about his character? Provide at least three examples from this chapter to support your analysis.
Notice the intensely harsh and sharp characterization here. What do you think of Wakem?
How does the author introduce the events of Chapter Eight?
Why is Tom opposed to his father working for Wakem?
How does the author highlight Mr. Tulliver's confusion here?
What do you think "new vibrations" means here?
The Nemean lion is a monster from Greek mythology. It was eventually killed by Heracles, as represented in the painting below: (This annotation contains an image)
Examine the connotations here. Which of the following words highlight the depressing mood?
The author, George Eliot, is often celebrated as one of the “pioneers” of the psychological novel. A psychological novel, or “psychological realism,” is when an author highlights the interior life of the character(s) over the focus of plot. In such novels, the plot actually develops from the various motivations, desires, fears, and emotions experienced by the characters and their reactions. Read the following brief article, "George Eliot as a Psychological Novelist" to gain more insight into this style. (This annotation contains a link)
Refer to the previous annotation to read "George Eliot as a Psychological Novelist." How do elements of the "psychological novel" (or "psychological realism") appear in this text so far? How does this style influence your understanding of the text?
Which of the following best describes Luke's relationship with the Tullivers?
Watch the following video on tone and mood, and then analyze the connotations in the highlighted paragraph. Examining diction and connotations can often help you to determine an author's tone or a scene's mood. Knowing this, how would you characterize the mood here? (This annotation contains a video)
Notice the diction and connotations... What does the description of Maggie "sinking down" while "pale and trembling" tell you about her feelings here?
What is the significance of Tom's obeying his father's orders here, specifically noting the fact that Tom is copying his father's words into the family's Bible?
This chapter's title is a reference to Bossuet, a French Bishop during the 17th century (shown below). Bossuet wrote a book on the history of English Protestantism, thus this chapter's title suggests that the reader will learn about elements that were likely not discussed in Bossuet's text. (This annotation contains an image)
Consider the structure and organization of this chapter. Why does the author begin by describing the castles on the Rhine in contrast to the poor houses on the Rhone? How does this comparison connect to the lives of the people in the Floss and to the theme(s) of the text? (Note: Re-read the highlighted paragraph to gain more insight into the author's purpose to help with your response here.)
What "sort of traditional belief" is the narrator referring to here? Re-read the previous paragraph for clarification if needed.
This is a rather interesting chapter, in that the primary purpose is for the author to share "this sense of oppressive narrowness" for the people who live on the Floss. The author wants us to understand how the "narrowness" of the lives here have influenced Tom and Maggie (as well as all of the people in the community). Why do you think the author wants us to be keenly aware of this detail?
Maggie is described as "strangely old for her years." How old is she in this chapter?
What best describes Mr. Tulliver's overall disposition?
The note that Mrs. Tulliver "could not economize enough" tells us that the Tullivers are continuing to deal with financial struggles.
Observe the imagery here, especially the contrasting details of darkness and light. Do you see how the author describes Maggie's "dark eyes" and the "sunshine"? Do you think this contrast is intentional? If so, what purpose might it serve?
What does Bob's gift tell us about his personality?
Consider Maggie's sense of loneliness and isolation. Without school, a job, or any real "duties" in her world, she likely feels quite isolated amid this family turmoil.
What is the purpose of this chapter so far? What does the reader learn or gain by witnessing this exchange between Maggie and Bob?
Once again the author highlights a contrast here... Although springtime is coming, which is often seen as bright and happy, Maggie feels quite the opposite, remaining dark and depressed.
What does Maggie hope to find (or gain) from reading Tom's old school books?
Thomas a Kempis, illustrated below, was a German priest who is credited for writing The Imitation of Christ, a Catholic devotional text. The book, which is thought to be the second most popularly read devotional book (second to the Bible), is a handbook for living a spiritual life. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the author highlight Maggie's revelation here?
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on irony. What is ironic about Maggie's newly acquired efforts to be more humble and pious? Provide at least one example from the highlighted paragraph to support your analysis.
Watch the following video on irony (situational irony) and look for an example of irony in this section of the text. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Mrs. Tulliver find Maggie so much more appealing lately?
Observe the different reactions that Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver have to Maggie's new behavior and demeanor.
Part 5 - Wheat and Tares
The title of Part Five is an allusion to the Bible. Read the parable of the Wheat and Tares by visiting the following website: (This annotation contains a link)
Did you notice that this chapter is called "Into the Red Deeps"? To what does the "Red Deeps" refer?
What advantage is gained with the use of the third person omniscient narrator, as shown in this highlighted paragraph?
What causes the sudden shift in Maggie's feelings here?
What does the detail about Maggie "returning in a deeper flush" suggest about her feelings here?
Watch a brief scene from the 1997 film adaptation of this novel that shows Philip and Maggie seeing each other once again. To view the clip, skip ahead to the fifty minute mark. You can stop watching at fifty three minutes and seven seconds (when Tom appears). (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the 1997 film adaptation of this scene between Maggie and Philip. How does the director interpret this scene? What is highlighted or absent in the film adaptation? Provide at least two specific details from the film to support your analysis.
What is your reaction to Maggie's attitude here?
What "inward conflict" (internal conflict) is Maggie dealing with here?
It is clear that Maggie and Philip have feelings for one another. The author highlights this through their shared interest in music, referenced throughout their exchange in this chapter. This common ground of music serves as a symbol with many meanings. What do you think music might symbolize in the context of this chapter?
What does this detail suggest about Tom's character?
This is a hint that we are about to encounter a flashback. Consider why the author wants to take us back in time to show us the events that transpired.
Why do these words "burnt his lips"?
Although Bob has been characterized as a kind and generous character, the narrator has given us a reason to doubt his "matter of business" here. Why should the reader be suspicious of the family engaging in any business with Bob? (Hint: Refer to his dialogue with Maggie in Chapter Three of Part Four if you are in need of assistance.)
Why does Uncle Glegg react in this way?
Observe the interesting diction here. What is the connotation of "fatal," and how might a "fatal tone" sound?
Based on the context clues in this chapter, what can you infer is a "packman"?
Observe the syntax (sentence structure, such as the exclamatory sentence) as well as the diction in this dialogue. How would you describe the tone in this exchange?
Which of the following words best describes Mrs. Glegg's tone here?
What does "an air of desperation" suggest about Bob here?
How does Bob manage to sell Mrs. Glegg some of his items? Provide at least two examples from this chapter to support your response.
What does the narrator remind the reader of here?
Watch the following video on symbolism and look for the symbolic significance of music in this chapter. To guide you, note any references to music as you read. (This annotation contains a video)
Examine the imagery and connotations here. Why does the author describe this scene in this manner?
Identify the best summary of Philip's argument in the highlighted lines.
The comment that Philip would have been a "good brother" suggests that perhaps
Take note of Maggie's request for a song... This may tie into the symbol of music.
With this line, the narrator is telling us not to judge Philip too harshly.
Evaluate the symbol of music (or song) in this chapter. What is the significance or meaning of music in this section of the text? Provide at least one example to support your explanation.
Why does the author bring up Lucy here? Do you think Lucy will appear once again in the novel?
Maggie's inability to not easily answer Philip's question suggests that she
This is a rather surprising description... Why does the author describe Philip's face as "like a woman's"?
Evaluate the exchange between Philip and Maggie in this chapter. Do you think Maggie feels the same for Philip as he does for her? Why or why not? Provide at least two examples to support your response.
Why is Mr. Tulliver "jealous for Maggie" here?
Why does Maggie blush here?
What best describes Tom's attitude here?
What "sudden thought" occurs to Tom here?
What is your reaction to Tom's ultimatum here?
What type of conflict is present in the highlighted paragraph?
Watch the following video on tension. How does the author highlight the tension in this scene? (This annotation contains a video)
How is the conflict between Tom and Maggie characterized in the highlighted lines?
The author often seems to point out the inequality between men and women. Consider how helpless Maggie must feel in this chapter... What choices and options does she have compared to Tom?
What does Maggie's feeling of "relief in the forced separation from Philip" suggest about her true feelings for him?
Although his parents don't notice Maggie and Tom's lack of interaction, what can you infer about their relationship right now?
What does the line "when you got a man" mean in the context of this sentence?
Mr. Tulliver is clearly quite proud of Tom. What do you think will happen to the Tullivers as a result of Tom's successful repayment of the family's debts?
Considering the news that unfolded in this chapter, which of the following is true of Tom?
Although the family is celebrating here, the author includes a potentially grim detail. Note how the narrator tells us that this will be the "single speech of his life." What might this detail suggest?
How does the author's use of diction and connotations contribute to the tension of this interaction between Mr. Tulliver and Mr. Wakem?
Examine the details used to describe Mr. Tulliver's condition. What do these details suggest?
What is happening to Mr. Tulliver here?
What is your reaction to Mr. Tulliver's refusal to forgive Mr. Wakem here? Does this connect with any theme(s) from the novel?
What ultimately reconciles Tom and Maggie's conflict here?
Examine the description of Stephen... In what ways is his physical appearance similar or different to some of the other young male characters of the novel?
Based on the information provided in the dialogue, which of the following statements can you infer to be true?
Since Maggie is described as being "in a school" while also being "independent," we can infer that she is working as a type of governess. A governess is a female hired to teach and train young children (generally in a private household). Take a look at Rebecca Solomon's 1851 painting The Governess. Based on the definition of a governess, which individual in the painting likely serves that role? (This annotation contains an image)
What best describes the relationship between Stephen and Lucy?
Did you notice that music and song appeared in the text once again? This chapter is even titled "A Duet in Paradise," giving you another word related to music. What might this symbolize or represent in the context of this chapter?
Notice how the author describes the flirtatious and romantic tension between Lucy and Stephen. Identify two examples of this from the chapter, and highlight how the author conveys a specific mood with each example.
The author just introduced us to a new character, Stephen, and now we have a chapter titled "First Impressions." We can infer that Stephen and Maggie are about to make their "first impressions" to one another here... What type of impression do you think each character might have on the other?
Which of the following accurately highlights the difference in attitudes between Lucy and Maggie here?
Notice, yet again, the stark differences between Maggie and Lucy. The author wants us to be keenly aware of how opposite they are in almost every way.
Although Maggie is feeling quite depressed, the author contrasts this mood with positive and flowery
Pause and re-read this highlighted section... Considering the chapter's title is "First Impressions," it is important that we take a serious look at the "first impression" between Stephen and Maggie. What do you think is happening here?
Jane Austen was an English novelist (1775 - 1817) who wrote an array of famous novels, one of her most popular being Pride and Prejudice. This biting dialogue between Stephen and Maggie, along with the sharp disagreements between a young male and female character, has some qualities that are quite similar to that of Pride and Prejudice's main characters, Darcy and Elizabeth. Watch the following clip from the 2005 rendition of Pride and Prejudice... What similarities do you see between the two characters Darcy and Elizabeth to Stephen and Maggie? (Note: Considering Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813, while The Mill on the Floss was published in 1860, perhaps Eliot was even inspired by Austen's works!) (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the clip of the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. How does the exchange between Darcy and Elizabeth compare to the exchange between Stephen and Maggie? Furthermore, what do you think of Stephen and Maggie's interaction so far? Do they like or dislike each other? Provide at least two examples from the novel to support your response.
Lucy and Maggie are sewing items to sell at the bazaar, which is basically a marketplace. In this case, it sounds like the bazaar may be serving as a form of fund raising.
Dr. Kenn is an Anglican. During this time period, Anglican was the official religion of England. The "Dissenters" that Stephen mentions here are people who have chosen to follow a different religion (such as Methodism or Catholicism). Even though Anglican is the "official" religion, people are not forced to follow it.
What does the highlighted line suggest?
As you read, take note of any mention of the river, as seen here in the highlighted line. Since the book's title mentions the river ("Floss"), it may likely hold some significance as the plot unfolds.
The narrator directly addresses the reader in this paragraph. What is the purpose of this direct address?
Do you see how Stephen "happily" holds Maggie's hand? This is a very big deal, especially considering the fact that, during this time period, unmarried men and women would rarely physically touch one another. Refer, once again, to the 2005 rendition of Pride and Prejudice by watching the following "Behind the Scenes" clip from the film. The clip will help clarify some of the unique customs and "rules" of courtship (dating) in 18th century England. (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the "Behind the Scenes" clip from the 2005 rendition of Pride and Prejudice. As both Pride and Prejudice and The Mill on the Floss take place in 18th century England, the clip provides helpful insight into some of the customs that characters in this novel may practice. After watching the clip, identify three details from the "Behind the Scenes" regarding the customs of dating during this time period. Then, evaluate how we have seen these customs in The Mill on the Floss thus far.
Note the recurring reference to music... Here, Stephen is even described as having a "splendid voice." What might this symbolize or represent?
What does the word "leave" mean in the context of this sentence?
When Maggie learns that Lucy will "contrive some plot" that will enable her and Philip to marry, Maggie is described in the following manner: "Maggie tried to smile, but shivered, as if she felt a sudden chill." What does Maggie's reaction reveal?
How would you characterize Bob's tone here? What do you think of him as a character?
Maggie realizes this "little black spaniel" is actually Lucy's dog. As such, we can infer that Tom gave the dog to Lucy as a gift. Because of this, Maggie realizes that Tom may have romantic feelings for Lucy (and, although Tom and Lucy are cousins, it was socially acceptable--and quite common--to marry one's cousin during this time period).
Do you agree with Tom's characterization of Maggie here? Why or why not?
Maggie is clearly upset here. What has Tom said that has upset her? How would you describe Tom's overall tone when speaking to Maggie in this scene? Provide at least one example from the text to support your response.
Maggie acknowledges the different "natures" between her and Tom here. Which of the following best summarizes one of the key differences between these two characters?
Observe the diction here, considering words such as "softening" and "sudden glow." What do these connotations suggest?
Maggie makes a joke about "running away" here. Do you recall how she once, in Part One, "ran away" to be with the gypsies? Do you think that impulsive quality that we witnessed in her as a child still remains? Why or why not?
Consider how many years have passed since we first met Tom in Part One of the novel. In what way(s) has Tom changed or remained the same?
What is Tom's primary motivation for purchasing the Mill?
Keep in mind that it is Lucy's father who says these encouraging words to Tom. If Maggie's suspicions about Tom's feelings for Lucy (as mentioned in the previous chapter) are true, how might Tom feel to hear Lucy's father, of all people, say this to him?
In what way has the outlook on Maggie's life changed since Part Five of the novel?
Observe this simile, paying close attention to--once again--the author's mention of the river here. Why do you think the author compares Maggie's destiny to an "unmapped river"?
Which of the following words could accurately replace "society" as it is used in the context of this sentence?
Considering their interactions, what is your opinion of Stephen and Lucy's relationship?
Considering what you have learned about customs during the 18th century, what detail suggests that Stephen may be romantically interested in Maggie? (Note: refer to the "Behind the Scenes" video annotation from Part Six, Chapter Two if you need to revisit information on this topic.)
The author provides very specific details here that give clues to Stephen and Maggie's feelings. How do you think they feel about one another and what evidence leads you to this assumption?
Refer to the previous annotation to read Emily Dickinson's poem. In your own words, summarize Dickinson's poem. How does her poem connect with characters from The Mill on the Floss? Provide one specific example from each text to support your response.
Read the following poem by American poet Emily Dickinson. As you read, consider how Dickinson's poem connects with characters and emotions from the novel. (This annotation contains a link)
These emerging details--as told in the last few chapters--about Philip, Maggie, Lucy, and Stephen are elements of
What do you think of this interaction so far? Does Philip still care for Maggie?
What do you think "artificial conversation" means?
What is Philip's attitude towards Maggie in the highlighted paragraph?
Why does the narrator tell us that "Philip's eyes were watching them keenly"?
The inclusion of music in this scene is intended to
Sonnambula, which means "Sleepwalker," is an opera. Below is a photograph of one of the scenes in the performance at Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona's famous Opera House. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Philip choose to sing Maggie this particular song?
Observe the diction here... The author chooses words that relate to water, connecting with the recurring reference to the river. Why does she choose these words here?
Evaluate the role of music in this chapter. What is Maggie's reaction to Philip's signing compared to Stephen's signing? What does her reaction suggest? Provide at least two examples from the chapter to support your response.
Why is Lucy so certain this will work?
What do you think Philip plans to do here?
Why does Philip show his paintings of Maggie to his father?
What do you think Philip means in this response?
Examine the highlighted lines... Why does Philip require his father's permission to marry Maggie?
Why does the author, once again, compare Philip to a woman? What is the purpose in this characterization?
The "barrier" mentioned in this highlighted line is an example of
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on round and flat characters. Based on what you learned and observed of Mr. Wakem in this chapter, do you think he is a round character or a flat character? Include two specific examples from this chapter to support your response.
This chapter shows us a bit more insight into Mr. Wakem's character. Watch the following video on round and flat characters and consider whether or not Wakem is round or flat. (This annotation contains a video)
What evidence suggests that Lucy is unaware of the fact that Stephen may be interested in Maggie?
In our observations of Maggie's actions over the last several chapters, it is clear that she may have feelings for Stephen... Notice how she avoids looking up when he is around. Why do you think she has that particular reaction?
The disagreement between Philip and Stephen here is an example of which type of conflict?
The line "charged with meaning" implies that Dr. Kenn understands that Maggie's words carry a more hidden and deeper meaning.
The author uses diction such as "faintly" and "distressed" to describe Maggie here. What do these connotations suggest?
Summarize Maggie's statements in the highlighted paragraph. Do you believe that what she tells Lucy here is truly how she feels? Why or why not? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your response.
Notice the mention of music here... Watch for this reference throughout the chapter to see if the author imparts any deeper significance with this.
The author employs which of the following stylistic techniques to highlight the romantic feelings between Stephen and Maggie? Refer to the highlighted passage to see specific examples.
A conservatory is a room with glass walls that is generally used to grow plants. During this time period, a conservatory was typically attached to one side of a house and used as a greenhouse or a sun room. View the image below to see an example of an English conservatory from around 1870. (This annotation contains an image)
Maggie and Stephen here are dealing with an external conflict (he made an advance and she is offended); however, in what way is Maggie's conflict here also internal? Provide at least two examples to support your analysis.
The "book" to which Philip references here is
Maggie declares the only thing keeping her from marrying Philip is her brother Tom. The narrator even tells us that "she believed it." Do you, however, believe that is the whole truth?
Why can't Maggie "trust herself" here?
Why does Maggie consider herself engaged to Philip?
The fact that Maggie's "lips would not utter" that "her whole heart was Philip's" suggests that
Philip has a good point here... Technically, no one is officially engaged yet; therefore, although it would be hurtful to Philip and Lucy, it is certainly possible for Stephen and Maggie to be together. What do you think keeps Maggie from pursuing this relationship with Stephen?
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the film adaptation of this scene between Maggie and Philip. What differences do you see between the film adaptation verses the original text? Why do you think the director (or actors) make these changes and what is the effect? Provide specific examples from the film and text to support your response.
Refer again to the 1997 film adaptation of The Mill on the Floss to evaluate this scene between Maggie and Philip as it is performed by actors. To view the clip, begin at 1:32:16 and stop at 1:34:39. (This annotation contains a video)
Do you recall the annotation on round and flat characters? Based on the way in which Mrs. Glegg has been characterized throughout the novel, is she is most likely considered to be a
Recall that Maggie suspects that Tom has feelings for Lucy. Look for evidence of this as Tom and Lucy interact in this chapter.
Observe the details in this highlighted paragraph... Is there any evidence of Tom's feelings for Lucy?
Which is the best summary of Tom's opinion of Maggie marrying Philip?
What is the significance of Stephen's singing?
Refer to the previous annotation to read the poem "Song to Celia." Summarize the meaning of the poem and explain why Eliot chose to reference the lines from this poem in this scene of the novel. What is the purpose and meaning of this reference?
The following lines are an allusion to English writer Ben Jonson's poem "Song to Celia." Read the poem, along with an explanation, by visiting the following site: (This annotation contains a link)
What is the cause of Philip's "wretched certainty" here?
The author, once again, brings us back to the water... As we near the climax and falling action of the novel, look for any references to water and consider its significance.
Notice how Stephen has ceased rowing and the boat has now "glided without his help." In many ways, this is a metaphor (or symbol) for how Maggie is also "gliding along" in her life. Like the water to the boat, what elements seem to "move Maggie along" in her own life? Do you think she should be more assertive in the "direction" of her life? Why or why not?
Notice the use of figurative language with the author's use of a simile to compare Maggie to a "frightened child." What does this suggest about her character here?
Here's the metaphor of the water once again... Has the significance of this "tide" evolved or developed further?
The highlighted lines suggest that Maggie
Notice how Maggie does not speak here... Instead she is described as "taken on board." With the description of Maggie being "taken," the author subtly suggests that Maggie is not taking control of her own actions or direction, as this chapter has repeatedly shown how she is easily guided by others. As you near the conclusion of this chapter, watch for any moments of Maggie speaking up for her own desires.
Note how the author does not include any spoken dialogue from Maggie in the last few pages of this chapter. What is the significance of this choice and what does it suggest about Maggie's character at this point in the novel?
What is the significance of Maggie's dream as described in the first several pages of this chapter?
Stephen's declaration that he will "die" if he cannot be with Maggie is most likely
Notice how Maggie is finally speaking up for herself once again! Consider, however, if her statements are truly what she believes (or wants). Although the author shows us her dialogue once again, consider whether or not her words (and thoughts) are still being guided by "external forces."
The highlighted lines show an example of
The author varies her syntax here to emphasize the characters' emotions. For example, take a look at how the author includes exclamatory sentences, italics, and dashes. To further evaluate these features, watch the following video on how and when to use the dash, and consider why Eliot chose to include this punctuation here. (This annotation contains a video)
What might be the purpose of the use of the dash in the highlighted line? (Note: refer to the previous video annotation for clarification on the use and purpose of a dash).
Reflect on earlier moments in the novel, such as interactions shown between Mr. Tulliver and his sister or between the childhood fights between Maggie and Tom. The theme of compassion and forgiveness has appeared throughout the novel, and it is brought to our attention once again here. Evaluate how this theme has evolved in the text. Then, make a predication about how you think the other characters may respond to Maggie's planned "confession." Do you think they will (or should) show her compassion and forgiveness? Why or why not?
Maggie and Stephen both present valid arguments as they debate in this chapter, as Stephen argues they should be together while Maggie argues that they cannot. With which character do you agree?
What is your reaction to Tom's words here? This is certainly not what Mr. Tulliver would have wanted Tom to say to Maggie here.
Which of the following best describes Tom's feelings here?
We know that Mr. Tulliver wanted Tom to always care for Maggie. Do you think that providing for her in a financial manner is all that Mr. Tulliver would want him to do?
Bob's behavior towards Maggie
What is it that Bob finds "puzzling" here?
The author's description of St. Ogg in this paragraph shows that
Although Stephen writes a letter admitting all blame, why do the people of St. Ogg all blame Maggie for what happened between her and Stephen? What is the author's message or purpose in including this detail, and what does it suggest about the attitudes towards women during in this setting?
"Trousseau" is French for "small bundle." It refers to the belongings a woman collects (such as clothing and linens) that she will bring into her marriage.
What do the details in the highlighted paragraph suggest?
A rectory is a house where the leader of a town or village's parish or church would live.
Observe the kindness and compassion that Dr. Kenn shows Maggie here. This is quite a stark contrast to how the rest of the town seems to treat her in this chapter.
Provide two specific examples showing how the townspeople treat Maggie in this chapter. How do their reactions to Maggie connect with the larger themes of compassion and forgiveness?
Note the reference to water here... Why would Mrs. Glegg suddenly assume this?
What does the line "I must get my own bread" mean in the context of this paragraph?
What do you think of Mrs. Tulliver's response to Maggie here? Has their relationship changed or evolved over the course of the novel?
What "suspense" causes Maggie to feel "sickened" here?
Read the following poem by Emily Dickinson, dubbed "You left me – Sire – two Legacies." How does this poem connect with Philip's feelings as expressed in his letter to Maggie? (This annotation contains a link)
Refer to the previous annotation to read the poem by Emily Dickinson. Summarize the poem and identify how the poem may connect with Philip's feelings here. Provide at least one example from each text to support your analysis.
Are you surprised that no one will hire Maggie? Why do you think the author includes this reaction from the townspeople?
Dr. Kenn's efforts to clear Maggie's name in the town as well as find her employment show that he
Note the comments here... Do you think the author wants us to feel compassion and pity for Maggie? Why or why not?
What do you think Lucy means when she tells Maggie '"you are better than I am'"? Furthermore, explain how the interaction between Lucy and Maggie in the close of this chapter connects with one of the larger themes of the novel.
Watch the following video on foreshadowing. Once again, the author directs the reader's attention to the water. Examine the connotations in this passage, and consider the other references to water in the text... Do you think the author is foreshadowing something? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Dr. Kenn no longer want Maggie to work for him as a governess?
Notice the rich imagery here... What is the author trying to convey with her diction and connotations?
What does Maggie's burning of Stephen's letter signify?
Consider the symbolic or metaphorical significance of water here... What might this water represent or highlight in the closing scenes of the novel?
Refer to the highlighted excerpt. What has happened to Maggie in this scene?
Evaluate the author's description of the river here... What is your interpretation of these details?
What does the highlighted paragraph, along with the detail that Tom calls her "Magsie," suggest about Maggie and Tom here?
Review the highlighted lines... What does the author suggest has happened to Tom and Maggie here?
Evaluate the conclusion of the novel. How do the deaths of Tom and Maggie connect with the theme(s) of the text, and what is the significance of their drowning in the river? Provide at least two examples from the text to support your response.