- 女性学評論 (ISSN:09136630)
- vol.25, pp.147-162, 2011-03
George Eliot was a woman writer active in the Victorian period when women writers were not favorably accepted. So Eliot masked herself as a male in order to become a novelist. The Mill on the Floss is often regarded as an autobiographical novel in which readers can appreciate something of Eliot's own experience through its heroine, Maggie Tulliver. Many critics have pointed out that Maggie finally returns to "the past represented by her brother Tom because Tom symbolizes the patriarchal system. However, feminist criticism insists that Maggie takes "unconscious" revenge on Tom at the end of the narrative, through causing their accidental deaths by drowning. The purpose of this paper is to show that this novel can be read as Maggie's rebellion against Victorian society by comparing Maggie with the idealized images of Victorian womanhood. First, I examine how Maggie satisfies her thirst for knowledge which was restricted for women through her relationship with Philip Wakem. Second, I analyze Maggie's defiance toward puritanical aspirations such as innocence and the repression of sexual passion. Maggie expresses her sexual passion when she falls in love with Stephen Guest, the fiance of her cousin Lucy, and she is labeled a "fallen woman" due to her escapade with Stephen. Third, I discuss Maggie's refusal to marry even though marriage was considered the safest way for women to choose at that time. Stephen proposes to Maggie on their escapade, but she rejects him searching instead for a life of independence. In the last chapter, Maggie received the letter from Stephen who still cannot give up marrying her and again she suffers ,In the middle of her suffering, she is killed by the sudden flood. This conclusion implies that she struggles with Victorian convention to the end. The Mill on the Floss can be read as the novel which Eliot offers a challenge to the ideal images of Victorian woman through the extraordinary behaviour of the heroine,Maggie Tulliver.