The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss


George Eliot

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The Mill on the Floss: Book 7, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

The narrator observes ironically that if Maggie had returned to St. Ogg’s as Stephen’s wife, the world might have judged her quite differently. As the wife of the town’s wealthiest man, she would have been received in all the best households and accepted as a member of the community. However, since she has returned unmarried, she is scorned and treated as an outcast.
The narrator points out the hypocrisy of St. Ogg’s society on matters of sex and gender roles. Society doesn’t scorn Maggie for taking another woman’s fiancé—they treat her with contempt because they believe Maggie and Stephen have had premarital sex. It is only because Maggie returned to the town unmarried that she is treated with contempt.
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Hoping to find some way to earn her living, Maggie visits Dr. Kenn, who had been kind to her before. She tells him everything, and Dr. Kenn believes her, explaining that Stephen has written a letter to his father and Lucy, exonerating Maggie from any part in the elopement. He suggests that Maggie might come and work as a governess for his children, an offer she gratefully accepts.
One notable exception to the judgment and intolerance of St. Ogg’s is Dr. Kenn. Kenn doesn’t jump to conclusions about Maggie and believes her account. He even offers her a job with his family as a governess, an intimate position that attests to his kindness and trust in her.
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