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Topic: The Mill on the Floss: Discussion 1 of 3

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Subject: The Mill on the Floss: Discussion 1 of 3
Date Posted: 5/17/2009 11:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Hello everyone. How is your reading of The Mill on the Floss coming along?
The following questions are not too academic or scholarly. We're not writing term papers; this is supposed to be fun.

The questions mostly ask for your opinion about the book and some challenge you to dig a little deeper (just a little) by asking some basic literary detective questions. Use all or some of the questions to outline your thoughts or skip them and just tell us what you think.

By the way, I invite everyone who feels compelled to add his or her own questions to this list to do so.

  1. Tell us about your first impression of The Mill on the Floss.
  2.  Is it an easy read or is it challenging?
  3. What were your thoughts while you read the first couple of pages ( I am dying to know).
  4. If this is your first George Eliot novel, do you like her writing style?
  5. Do you like or dislike her descriptions?
  6. Is Eliot funny?
  7. Do you like her choice of narrative technique? In other words, do you like it when the narrator talks to the reader
  8. Does her writing make you want to read further?
  9. What do you think of the characters? Share your opinions about Maggie, Tom, and anyone else you find interesting.
  10. Do you detect any themes in the book so far?
  11. Why does Eliot tells us the legend of St. Ogg? What does the river represent?
  12. Have you found any foreshadowing yet? Allegories? Metaphors? Comparisons? Parallels?
Discussion 2 will be on Monday, May 25
Discussion 3 will be on Sunday, May 31
If anyone wants to start a thread now to begin nominations for June's book choice, feel free. Also, if you feel compelled to lead June's discussion, again, feel free to volunteer.
 


Last Edited on: 5/22/09 8:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 5
Date Posted: 5/18/2009 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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I'll answer a few tonight (then, I must  watch my all-time favorite show, The Big Bang Theory!.  I'll try to get back to the rest later tonight or tomorrow.  Good questions, by the way.

 

  1. Tell us about your first impression of The Mill on the Floss.

From the very beginning, I loved the description of the countryside, I loved the dialect and the characters.  As I mentioned earlier, I began reading this in my car with rain pouring down outside, waiting for friends outside of a restaurant.  I loved the closed in feeling and wished that I could have sat like that throughout the book.

2.   Is it an easy read or is it challenging?

I am finding MOTF a very easy read.  However, I don't think that I would want to sit and read it all at one time.  It's an easy book to pick up and put down.

3.  What were your thoughts while you read the first couple of pages ( I am dying to know).

Again, I liked the description and the dreamy quality

4.  If this is your first George Eliot novel, do you like her writing style?

I've read and taught Silas Marner, but that was years ago.  I liked SM but don't really remember Eliot's style from that.  I do like her writing style in MOTF.

5.  Do you like or dislike her descriptions?

Yes, as mentioned above.

6. Is Eliot funny?

I find her descriptions of characters and their actions amusing.  I also find her funny (and true) when she observes such things as people (Mrs. Clegg, for instance) keeping themselves in bad tempers by "inflicting privations on themselves."

7.  Do you like her choice of narrative technique? In other words, do you like it when the narrator talks to the reader.

I'm not sure that I like it, but I am accustomed to it from early British writers.

8.  Does her writing make you want to read further?

Yes.  I want to know how Maggie and Tom grow up.

9.  What do you think of the characters? Share your opinions about Maggie, Tom, and anyone else you find interesting.

I like Maggie so far with her impulsiveness, her wanting to be loved so by Tom, and her ability to get into trouble at the drop of a hat.   Tom I find to be somewhat selfish. 

10.  Do you detect any themes in the book so far?

Not yet, but then I am probablly a little dense.

Back later for the rest.

11.  Why does Eliot tells us the legend of St. Ogg? What does the river represent?

12.  Have you found any foreshadowing yet? Allegories? Metaphors? Comparisons? Parallels?

Date Posted: 5/18/2009 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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Last Edited on: 5/18/09 8:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: I say, It's a puzzle.
Date Posted: 5/19/2009 12:49 AM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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 I knew I was in trouble after reading the first two sentences. The first isn't so tough, but the second would not  allow me to come up for air.

"A wide plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on between its green banks to the sea, and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its passage with an impetuous embrace. On the mightey tide the black ships--laden with the fresh-scented fir plants, with rounded sacks of oil-bearing seed, or with the dark coal--are borne along to the town of St Oggs, which shows its aged, fluted red rooms and the board gables of its wharves between the low wooded hill and the river brink, tingling the water with a soft purple hue under the transient grace of this February sun."

After reading it slowly a few times, I finally got the scene in my head. It's lovely. 

Eliot's longwinded.

I admit that Eliot is a challenge to my 21st century short attention span and tests my patience.  She does masterfully create settings and eccentric characters, and that's a delight.  While I don't mind it when the narrator addresses the reader, I don't, however, appreciate it when she wanders into lengthy and dense meditative reflections that are quite laborious to read. There were times when I didn't want to pick Mill up again. So far I am glad I have because on occasion I've been rewarded with moments of unexpected humor.

"She thought anything was better than going with one of the dreadful men alone; it would be more cheerful to be murdered by a larger party" (127).

"Mrs. Tulliver was an amiable fish of this kind, and after running her head against the same resisting medium for thirteen years, would go at it again today with undulled alacrity" (82).

Maggie and Tom are not very pleasant children. I do feel sorry for Maggie. She is hyper and impulsive, and despite her voodoo practices in the attic, she's not a "little devil" or "gypsy." She is too sentimental about her brother,Tom, who is simply a jerkface.

Personally, I am rooting for the aunts--particularly Mrs. Glegg. She's wonderfully awful with her mouldering clothes, her skinflint ways, and her big, opinionated mouth. I love to read about her and the fastidious Pullets. The visit with the pullets was hilarious.

One inconsistency I've notices is Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver's dialect. As the book progresses they lose their heavy, barely readable dialect. They've become increasingly articulate by the end of this section.

I think I've spotted two foreshadows so far, but I won't give them away yet.

Still trying to figure out the symbolism of the river.

 

 

 



Last Edited on: 5/20/09 10:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 5/19/2009 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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The two of you are doing better with this book than I am. The story is plodding for me and the characters seem one-dimensional. To be fair, I’m only 100 pages into it. I do like Eliot’s tongue-in-cheek humor and the luncheon with the sisters at the Tulliver’s was my favorite scene so far. But, I don’t like Lucy and Tom – they seem immature and petty for their age and I find much of their behavior annoying. Perhaps that is the author’s intent. I don’t hate the book and I’m going to keep reading for now but I am not enamored with the writing style or story line thus far.

 

Date Posted: 5/20/2009 1:31 AM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2008
Posts: 26,635
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I haven't quite gotten up to the appointed page yet, but I'm getting there.  There are parts that I've found interesting and
engaging, but I must admit that there are places where I read through all the description and narrative and just find myself
thinking that this book could be so much shorter without losing anything for me.

My first impression?  Well, I knew I was in trouble when I thought to myself, what exactly is a floss?  LOL

I do like the characterizations.   Each person is well drawn out.  While I generally like Maggie and find some of her doings
very funny, I don't like Tom.  For a boy who appears to have plenty, he seems so uncharitable and just mean-tempered.
And, yes, I enjoyed the visits with the aunts as well.

I like the story and am interested to see where it goes, but I just feel like it takes so long getting there.

Date Posted: 5/20/2009 12:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I liked the first part a lot.  Although I like Maggie as a character overall, her dependence (I guess Eliot means it to be unconditional love and devotion but to 21st century me it came across as neediness) on her brother grated on me a lot.  But I guess that's what makes her human.  If she had the same strength of will with everyone as she does when she defies her aunts and everyone by cutting her hair, she'd be too perfect.  I do love her relationship with her father, but ugh, as someone with family members who act eerily similar to the Gleggs et al., I know how awful it can be underneath the ridiculousness.

Date Posted: 5/20/2009 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2006
Posts: 830
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 I apologize for voting for the book and not having read it yet.  I hope to start and join the next discussion. Sometimes life just gets in the way of my good intentions.

Date Posted: 5/23/2009 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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No worries Jan, we've all been there at one point or another :-)

Vanessa - glad your are enjoying the book! I do agree with you about the ridiculousness of their rigid sense of acceptable behavior. I see a few similarities with themes in A Room With A View.

Chris - I'm finding myself skimming some of Eliot's longwinded descriptions . . . not intentionally but it's just not interesting to me.

Date Posted: 5/23/2009 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I see a few similarities with themes in A Room With A View.

Yes, me too! I watched Masterpiece Theatre's rendition of A Room With a View a few days ago. I highly recommend it.

I'm finding myself skimming some of Eliot's longwinded descriptions . . . not intentionally but it's just not interesting to me

Ditto,