In Chapter II of Book Seventh, Eliot is quite specific that the women of St. Ogg's and, indeed, any community, are responsible for the hypocritical judgments of morality. Far from being an accurate assessment of personal morality, in the opening paragraphs these judgments are shown to rest upon egotistical impulses and extraneous details of social convention. Indeed, egoism seems to be the common evil of the end of The Mill on the Floss. Not only do Stephen and Tom suffer from egoism, but the malicious gossip of the town is also the result of egoism. We will hear in Chapter IV of Book Seventh that "Society," is an abstraction created by the "ladies of St. Ogg's which served to make their consciences perfectly easy in doing what satisfied their own egoism." In contrast, Philip's letter explicitly outlines his recent shift from egoism to sympathy that has allowed him to think of Maggie and forgive her: "The new life I have found in caring for your joy and sorrow more than for what is directly my own, has transformed the spirit of rebellious murmuring into willing endurance which is the birth of strong sympathy."

Besides Philip, Bob Jakin, and Mrs. Tulliver, characters who counteract the egoism of the town ladies include Dr. Kenn and Mrs. Glegg. Dr. Kenn is a singular model of morality in The Mill on the Floss. His ethics and standards are put forth as the measure against Maggie is to be harshly judged, yet, in the end, vindicated in the novel. The support of Mrs. Glegg seems somewhat surprising in view of her contrary personal character, yet it is not at all surprising in relation to her strict code of family behavior. In this depiction of Mrs. Glegg, Eliot favorably contrasts the Dodson sisters with the rest of female society in St. Ogg's.