The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss


George Eliot

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The Mill on the Floss: Book 4, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

After the bankruptcy, life at Dorlcote Mill is miserable. Mrs. Tulliver is bewildered at her misfortune; Mr. Tulliver is sullen and uncommunicative. Tom has little to say to Maggie anymore, since all of his energies are now devoted to financial success and paying back the family debt. Mr. Tulliver worries for Maggie, thinking that “she had a poor chance for marrying, down in the world as they were.” He still adores his daughter, but is no longer as openly affectionate as he was before, since he’s become bitter and depressed.
Maggie is lonely and intellectually under-stimulated after the bankruptcy, since she gets little attention from Tom. Mr. Tulliver's worry that Maggie now has “a poor chance for marrying” underscores the link between marriage and financial prospects. Women’s primary social role was to marry (and then be dutiful wives and mothers), but marriage was primarily an economic calculation, and Maggie no longer has the money to make her an appealing choice to potential suitors.
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