The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss


George Eliot

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The Mill on the Floss: Book 2, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

After their fight, Tom and Philip speak to each other only when necessary, namely because Philip can’t forgive Tom for calling his father, Wakem, a rogue. Maggie, on the other hand, finds Philip very intelligent and interesting. Philip, too, is struck by the “unsatisfied intelligence” in her eyes, which he compares to a princess turned into an animal.
Philip’s comparison of Maggie to a princess trapped in the body of an animal suggest the degree of intellectual repression of women in this historical period. Merely because she is a woman, Maggie’s intelligence is doomed to remain “unsatisfied” and untapped.
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Tom brings Maggie upstairs to show her his new sword. He makes her close her eyes while he dresses himself in a turban and blackens his cheeks. Then he draws his sword and claims to be the Duke of Wellington. This terrifies Maggie, who screams and jumps on the bed. While he’s play-fighting, Tom accidentally falls and drops the sword on his foot.
Maggie’s emotional response to Tom’s playacting—she screams in terror at the appearance of his sword—suggests her highly compassionate and sensitive nature. While for Tom the dress-up is all in good fun, Maggie tends to be very emotionally affected by art, music, and performance, once again underscoring her intellectual abilities and emotional depth.
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