The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

by

George Eliot

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Stephen Guest Character Analysis

Stephen is handsome, charming, and wealthy—the son and heir to the Guest & Co shipping fortune. He is courting Lucy Deane, and it is generally understood that they will soon be engaged. Stephen feels genuine affection and love for Lucy, whom he considers the ideal wife for him. However, he also finds himself drawn to Maggie’s unconventionality and passion. At first, he tries to deny his feelings for her, but later begins trying to persuade her to marry him. On a boating expedition, he rows the boat to a nearby town with the intention of getting Maggie to elope with him. He is confident of success, so he is astonished when Maggie refuses and returns to St. Ogg’s—showing that his arrogance was misplaced in assuming that Maggie would want to marry him. He flees to Holland after the botched elopement but continues to write to Maggie and even asks again for her hand in marriage. After Maggie’s death, he marries Lucy.

Stephen Guest Quotes in The Mill on the Floss

The The Mill on the Floss quotes below are all either spoken by Stephen Guest or refer to Stephen Guest. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of The Mill on the Floss published in 2015.
Book 7, Chapter 2 Quotes

If Miss Tulliver, after a few months of well-chosen travel, had returned as Mrs. Stephen Guest, with a post-marital trousseau, and all the advantages possessed even by the most unwelcome wife of an only son, public opinion, which at St. Ogg's, as elsewhere, always knew what to think, would have judged in strict consistency with those results.

Related Characters: Maggie Tulliver, Lucy Deane, Stephen Guest
Page Number: 453
Explanation and Analysis:
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Stephen Guest Character Timeline in The Mill on the Floss

The timeline below shows where the character Stephen Guest appears in The Mill on the Floss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 6, Chapter 1
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
The action shifts to St. Ogg’s, where eighteen-year-old Lucy Deane is being courted by Stephen Guest, heir to the Guest & Co shipping fortune. Although Stephen has not yet formally... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Stephen and Lucy sing a charming duet before Stephen leaves for the day. Lucy plays with... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 2
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
When Maggie arrives, Lucy tells her all about Stephen, blushingly observing that he is very handsome. There is a stark contrast between the two... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...her that she always liked Philip and has no objection to seeing him. Just then, Stephen arrives. He is shocked at Maggie’s appearance, since Lucy had made him expect a short... (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Stephen, Maggie, and Lucy discuss Dr. Kenn, the local vicar, a very pious man who gives... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Stephen proposes that they all go take a boat on the river, secretly hoping that this... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 3
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...night, Maggie struggles to fall asleep. She finds her mind very stimulated, not necessarily by  Stephen, but by “a world of love and beauty and delight” that had previously been closed... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Lucy confesses that she loves Stephen, and prompts Maggie to reveal her secrets as well. Maggie tells Lucy the story of... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 6
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
One evening, Stephen visits the house while Lucy is out preparing for the charity bazaar. He tells Maggie... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 7
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
When Stephen arrives, Philip feels irritated by his “strong presence and bright voice.” Stephen and Maggie treat... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...However, while she finds this touching, the song brings her “quiet regret” rather than “excitement.” Stephen then sings a jaunty song that makes the whole room come alive. As he is... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 9
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...her stall, where she is selling mittens and hats that she has sewn. Lucy and Stephen observe as Mr. Wakem approaches Maggie, and Lucy whispers to Stephen that the family quarrel... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Stephen places a hand on Philip’s shoulder and says that Maggie looks very sullen today. Recognizing... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 10
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Before Maggie leaves, she attends a grand dance at Stephen’s house. Although Stephen pretends to be indifferent to her, he feels jealous when he sees... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 11
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
After Maggie has been at Mrs. Moss’s for four days, Stephen arrives and asks to speak with her. They walk together in the woods near the... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Stephen agrees to give her up, if that’s what she wants, but asks for one kiss... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 13
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...boat out on the river together. Meanwhile, Philip pays close attention to the interactions between Stephen and Maggie. He notices one interaction in which Stephen whispers “dearest” to Maggie, and goes... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
The next morning, Philip is too distressed and ill to go on the boat, and Stephen offers to take his place. Maggie protests, but eventually agrees to go out on the... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Eventually, Stephen and Maggie pass a steamer boat on route to Mudport, the nearest large town. They... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 14
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...to people who she loves and cares for.  When they arrive in Mudport, she tells Stephen that she is going to leave him now and return to St. Ogg’s. Stephen argues... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Stephen points out that the wrong is already done, and that it is “madness” for Maggie... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 1
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
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,... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 2
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 3
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...judgmental Mrs. Glegg is very much on Maggie’s side. Having also read the letter that Stephen sent Lucy, she believes that Maggie is innocent and has taken to harshly castigating anyone... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 4
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Maggie learns that Lucy is going to the seaside with Stephen’s sisters. However, before Lucy leaves, she makes a secret visit under cover of darkness to... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 5
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...of the rumors that he planned to marry her. Then, she received a letter from Stephen. After the botched elopement, Stephen fled to Holland, but now he is back in Mudport... (full context)
Conclusion
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...vanished. Dorlcote Mill has been rebuilt, and the Tulliver family graveyard is quiet again. Philip, Stephen, and Lucy often visit the grave marking Tom and Maggie’s burial place. Philip always visits... (full context)