The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.

This sentiment, (the quotation occurs within Chapter III of Book Sixth), was first articulated by Montesquieu in neutral gender as "the People." Eliot's gendering of the comment as female perhaps gestures to the fact women, more than men, are conspicuously absent from history. Yet, more specifically, the quotation gestures toward Maggie's status as a tragic character. The quotation also subtly points to Eliot's conception of progressive life as a struggle—to progress beyond previous generations is to meet difficulty, yet this progression is necessary and noble, worthy of recording and recounting, as she does with the story of Maggie Tulliver.