Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

The Mill on the Floss, Maggie Tulliver, George Eliot, religion of humanity, sacrifice, drowning, death, natural selection, character flaws, selfless love

Department

English

Major

English Literature

Abstract

Upon examining the personal rejection and eventual demise of Maggie Tulliver, the protagonist of The Mill on the Floss, it becomes evident that her death is a sacrifice through which she demonstrates the morality of George Eliot’s religion of humanity. Maggie is a headstrong, intelligent, and memorable character who does not fit into her community and ultimately drowns in a flood while attempting to save her loved ones. The story begs the question: why must such an endearing main character perish? One possibility is that her character flaws make her downfall inevitable. The high-class and hypocritical members of the town of St. Ogg’s exile Maggie because she is too different and too desperate for love. Others may argue that Maggie’s death is a consequence of natural selection. The daughter of two very disparate family lines, her mixed blood results in a temperament that does not belong in her society. The survival of the fittest hypothesis, therefore, requires her passing. In actuality, Maggie’s demise is not due to character flaws or nature’s dictates. Rather, it is a demonstration of the sacrificial love of the religion of humanity. Eliot herself had given up orthodox Christianity in favor of a religion of humanity that advocated human love and selflessness without religious dogma. In The Mill on the Floss, Eliot presents a society that has also outgrown religion. Maggie, who does not find comfort in an outmoded religion or a judgmental society, is the only person who can demonstrate the ideology that this post-Christian town should embrace. The sacrifices that result in her downfall and her unfortunate death are demonstrations of selfless love. Eliot’s memorable protagonist must suffer and die as a voice espousing the values of her religion of humanity.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Constance Fulmer

Funding Source or Research Program

Summer Undergraduate Research Program

Presentation Session

Session B

Location

Plaza Classroom 188

Start Date

3-4-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-4-2015 4:15 PM

Share

COinS
 
Apr 3rd, 4:00 PM Apr 3rd, 4:15 PM

Drowning in Sacrifice: Maggie Tulliver’s Role in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss

Plaza Classroom 188

Upon examining the personal rejection and eventual demise of Maggie Tulliver, the protagonist of The Mill on the Floss, it becomes evident that her death is a sacrifice through which she demonstrates the morality of George Eliot’s religion of humanity. Maggie is a headstrong, intelligent, and memorable character who does not fit into her community and ultimately drowns in a flood while attempting to save her loved ones. The story begs the question: why must such an endearing main character perish? One possibility is that her character flaws make her downfall inevitable. The high-class and hypocritical members of the town of St. Ogg’s exile Maggie because she is too different and too desperate for love. Others may argue that Maggie’s death is a consequence of natural selection. The daughter of two very disparate family lines, her mixed blood results in a temperament that does not belong in her society. The survival of the fittest hypothesis, therefore, requires her passing. In actuality, Maggie’s demise is not due to character flaws or nature’s dictates. Rather, it is a demonstration of the sacrificial love of the religion of humanity. Eliot herself had given up orthodox Christianity in favor of a religion of humanity that advocated human love and selflessness without religious dogma. In The Mill on the Floss, Eliot presents a society that has also outgrown religion. Maggie, who does not find comfort in an outmoded religion or a judgmental society, is the only person who can demonstrate the ideology that this post-Christian town should embrace. The sacrifices that result in her downfall and her unfortunate death are demonstrations of selfless love. Eliot’s memorable protagonist must suffer and die as a voice espousing the values of her religion of humanity.