The Mill on the Floss - Role of Victorian Women

Topics: Victorian era, Woman, Victorian architecture Pages: 7 (2508 words) Published: December 13, 2010
George Eliot was an English novelist, journalist, and translator, and one of the leading writers of her life-time period. Although she would use a number of spelling variations of her name over the years, she was born Mary Anne Evans on 22 November 1819, into a middle-class family, in Warwickshire, England, and was the youngest of five children in her family. George Eliot, actually, was the masculine pen name of the writer Mary Anne Evans, one of Victorian England’s influential novelists. She changed her name 1819-1880 because writing by women’s name, especially which was of a vague nature, was not accepted in the Victorian society in which she lived.

Eliot herself lived a controversial and unconventional life: she has been the subject of much scholarly debates and the study of many biographers. In her time many people were shocked by her choice of “unbecoming a woman”, but she eventually earned the deserved esteem of an accomplished author. Also, it is an interesting fact that her works stand on their own, infrequently being overshadowed by her personal life. Among the best of the Victorian writers, G. Eliot deals with themes of social changes and triumphs of the heart and has a remarkable talent to show us the depth and scope of English life: its classes, pretensions, and hypocrisies. Many of her novels today are included in the canon of classic 19th century literary works. Furthermore, some of her masterpieces have been adapted to film and many still in print today.

“A woman's heart must be of such a size and no larger, else it must be pressed small, like Chinese feet; her happiness is to be made as cakes are, by a fixed recipe” George Eliot

Many novels speak of women life, fate, labyrinths in love, and traps in passion, but very few speak of the dynamics that actually make the lives of feminine representatives uneasy. “The Mill on the Floss” is one of these novels: it doesn’t display the fleeing passions like many love-stories do. This is due to entirely untraditional for those times George Eliot’s views on relationships between people of different age groups and difficulties in various aspects of life.

Without a doubt, today the role of women in society is absolutely different compared with the essence of women’s life in Victorian Epoch, in the 19th century. Since “The Mill on the Floss” was written (nearly two hundred years ago), the mankind has come through many social changes, especially women have. Even the fact that Mary Anne Evans had to use a pen name of George Eliot, as she was a woman and her works would not have been published otherwise, emphasizes women’s insignificance in the country and in the social circle. So, obviously, the myth according to which women had to stay at home, to carry out their “natural mission” of raising children, bearing them, and serving as an instrument of pleasure is little by little dying out. Therefore, this book report is destined for observing the overall life, problems, difficulties, perspectives, relationships, etc. of women during Victorian Era in George Eliot’s novel “The Mill on the Floss”.

Paradoxically, in her work Eliot had tried to demonstrate modern, free women with more personal rights and opportunities, which were banned and impossible in Victorian society of those times. While reading, it is not difficult to notice that the author bravely contradicted society through her writing, and through the heroes she delivered her perception of life. Maybe particularly Maggie’s character, who is one of the main figures in the novel, reflects her outlook on relationship between man and woman, on love, and on passion. The author created a woman of free thought, intellect, and strong moral character; probably the same traits Eliot herself possessed. It can be said that a Victorian woman’s value resides...
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