Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 5, 2024
February 27, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Maggie Tulliver is the protagonist of The Mill on the Floss. When the novel begins, Maggie is a clever and impetuous child. Eliot presents Maggie as more imaginative and interesting than the rest of her family and, sympathetically, in need of love. Yet Maggie's passionate preoccupations also cause pain for others, as when she forgets to feed Tom's rabbits, which leads to their death. Maggie will remember her childhood fondly and with longing, yet these years are depicted as painful ones. Maggie's mother and aunts continually express disapproval with Maggie's rash behavior, uncanny intelligence, and unnaturally dark skin, hair, and eyes. Yet it is only Tom's opinion for which Maggie cares, and his inability to show her unconditional love, along with his embarrassment at her impetuosity, often plunges Maggie into the utter despair particular to immaturity.
The most important event of Maggie's young life is her encounter with a book of Thomas a Kempis's writings, which recommend abandoning one's cares for oneself and focusing instead on unearthly values and the suffering of others. Maggie encounters the book during the difficult year of her adolescence and her family's bankruptcy. Looking for a "key" with which to understand her unhappy lot, Maggie seizes upon Kempis's writings and begins leading a life of deprivation and penance. Yet even in this lifestyle, Maggie paradoxically practices her humility with natural passion and pride. It is not until she re- establishes a friendship with Philip Wakem, however, that Maggie can be persuaded to respect her own need for intellectual and sensuous experience and to see the folly of self-denial. Maggie's relationship with Philip shows both her deep compassion, as well as the self-centered gratification that comes with having someone who fully appreciates her compassion. As Maggie continues to meet Philip Wakem secretly, against her father's wishes, her internal struggle seems to shift. Maggie feels the conflict of the full intellectual life that Philip offers her and her "duty" to her father. It is Tom who reminds her of this "duty," and Maggie's wish to be approved of by Tom remains strong.
The final books of The Mill on the Floss feature Maggie at the age of nineteen. She seems older than her years and is described as newly sensuous—she is tall with full lips, a full torso and arms, and a "crown" of jet black hair. Maggie's unworldliness and lack of social pretension make her seem even more charming to St. Ogg's, as her worn clothing seems to compliment her beauty. Maggie has been often unhappy in her young adulthood. Having given up her early asceticism, she longs for a richness of life that is unavailable to her. When she meets Stephen Guest, Lucy Deane's handsome suitor, and enters into the society world of St. Ogg's, Maggie feels this wont for sensuousness fulfilled for the first time. Stephen plays into Maggie's romantic expectations of life and gratifies her pride. Maggie and Stephen's attraction seems to exist more in physical gestures than in witty discussion, and it seems to intoxicate them both. When faced with a decision between a life of passionate love with Stephen and her "duty" to her family and position, Maggie chooses the latter. Maggie has too much feeling for the memories of the past (and nostalgia for a time when Tom loved her) to relinquish them by running away.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Mill on the Floss!