The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

by

George Eliot

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The Mill on the Floss: Book 7, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Five days after her departure from St. Ogg’s with Stephen, Maggie returns to Dorlcote Mill, hoping to find sanctuary with Tom. When Tom sees her, however, he is prepared for “the worst that could happen—not death, but disgrace.” He tells her that she has ruined herself by engaging in this relationship with Stephen, and that he washes his hands of her and will no longer call her his sister.
Tom’s rejection of Maggie devastates her because she has always loved and forgiven Tom, whatever the circumstances. However, just as when they were children, he seems unable to forgive her when he believes she has violated his moral code—in this case, he goes so far as to no longer call her his sister.
Themes
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Watching from the doorway, Mrs. Tulliver  exclaims, “you’ve got a mother!” and packs her things to leave Dorlcote Mill with Maggie.  They go to Bob Jakin, who takes them in. Bob shows Maggie his baby daughter, who he has named after her. He doesn't ask any questions about Stephen, but does ask Maggie if she owes anyone a “grudge.” Maggie replies that she doesn’t want to see anyone punished for doing wrong, since she’s done wrong enough herself.
In stark contrast to Tom’s stubbornness, Mrs. Tulliver readily forgives and supports her daughter, which is somewhat surprising. Maggie's comment to Bob also demonstrates her very different attitude toward forgiveness. Unlike Tom, Maggie has a keen sense of her own flaws and mistakes, and she doesn’t want to see others punished for errors that she knows she has shared herself.
Themes
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon