The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

by

George Eliot

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The Mill on the Floss: Book 5, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Maggie meets Philip again in the Red Deeps, determined to tell him that it is impossible for them to continue meeting like this. However, she agrees to stay for a while to talk to him. Philip urges her to give up her posture of self-denial and to embrace art, music, and literature again. He sings her a song, “Love in her eyes sits playing,” since he knows that Maggie loves music.
Philip, who is in love with Maggie, has clearly begun linking her intellectual deprivation to emotional deprivation. He also seems to hope that Maggie will be more receptive to his feelings if she opens herself up again to reading and knowledge.
Themes
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Philip suggests that they wouldn’t be doing anything wrong if they were to meet each other “by chance” in the woods again. The narrator notes that although Philip had little hope that Maggie would ever return his feelings, he couldn’t resist rationalizing his decision to continue seeing her, since he'd had little joy in his life thus far.
Although Philip clearly cares for Maggie, he lacks the empathy and compassion to see that his behavior here—pressuring her to meet in secret, despite the opposition of their families—will cause pain for both of them. His love paradoxically makes him blind to her feelings.
Themes
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon