The Maternal Figure Symbolizes Stability and Continuity in the Novels of George Eliot: a Close Reading of The Mill on the Floss

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Univeristy of Tennessee, Knoxville
This study delves into the intricate mother-daughter dynamics and societal critiques in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, focusing on the Tulliver women's battle within a patriarchal society. It vividly portrays how Maggie Tulliver's emotional and intellectual needs are overshadowed by Mrs. Tulliver, who places social status and financial security above all, mirroring the deeply ingrained gender norms of their time. The research argues that the novel's exploration of women's confined roles and the enduring influence of maternal figures still strikes a chord, tackling timeless issues of gender and familial relations. Through the stark contrast between Maggie's rich inner life and her mother's preoccupation with appearances and social standing, Eliot brings to the fore the isolation and hurdles women encounter in asserting their individuality. The thesis posits that Mrs. Tulliver's treatment of Maggie reflects her entanglement in unresolved societal expectations, perpetuating the constraints in which that she has. The analysis uncovers a poignant irony in Mrs. Tulliver's adherence to patriarchal standards, reinforcing the novel's critical stance on Victorian gender limitations and their enduring relevance.
gender, Maternal figures, Female authority, sexism, motherhood, mother-daughter relations, family