George Eliot is the pseudonym of Mary Anne Evans, born in Arbury in 1819. She received a religious education and became assistant editor of the Westminster Review. Thanks to his first husband, she wrote 'Scenes of clerical life', 'Middlemarch', 'Felix Holt', 'Adam Bede' (in which there were critical and public favour), 'Romola' (an historical novel set in the Italian Renaissance), 'The mill on the floss' and 'Silas Marner' (this last two works dealt with the provincial middle-class). She recreated the business life of the English provinces and explored psychological insight into the minds of her characters. Her novels are inspired by her own life and beliefs, and reveal a serious intention to present an objective and faithful picture of reality. The novelist was by no means a feminist, because she upheld the traditional duties of fidelity and honesty and believed that the social function of women was that of marrying, bearing children and establishing relationships with others. She died in London in 1880.
The mill on the floss
Tom and Maggie are the first children in the fiction and shows the relationship between George (the author) and her brother Isaac. Tom is firm, honest, rigid and insensitive; Maggie is unselfish, sensitivr and hurt. The language is very natural and simple. This novel shows the struggle between love and duty that destroys Maggie. Maggie follow her sexual instincts, but Tom rejects the girl's appeal. The author attacks the hypocrisy that surrounded sexual morality at the time. In the eyes of a modern reader, Tom's cruel behaviour seems to be disproportionate to Maggie's actual guilt. The portrayal of them exemplifies the technique of 'showing' character in action rather than through the narrator's 'telling'.