On Reading THE MILL ON THE FLOSS; Hope and Betrayal

mill_on_the_floss(Spoilers ahead)

This book is a massive flop–overdone, perfected to a fault and clumsily ended–which plunges you into a deep foreboding of misery from the very outset. You tend to hope for an all-healing, happy denouement so that joy will be on par with sorrow, according to dictum. But no, George Eliot’s messy pen must needs end her most celebrated novel with just the same amount of tragic despair (as is in the exposition and the middle of the story) so that the ever-hopeful reader would mope around for days on end post-reading. It seems to me, towards the end of the book, Eliot grew tired of the hopeless futility (or drab ordinariness, as she herself relentlessly repeats over and over) of the lives she had set about storytelling. And thus the young ‘uns die while the oldies (including the unnamed, neuter-gendered narrator) who are put there to pass judgment on and evaluate youth as it ‘socially matures’ live on to tell the tale.

Besides, the narration commences in a fashion that beguiles you into a vulnerable state of ill-founded hope of the impropriety of evil in this, um, sad tale. Scattering a liberal amount of forebodings of death, The Mill actually does warn us about the tragic finale, but still, come on, who would drink poison if there’s no hope of something better or happier or promising in the future? And, you don’t really have any sure knowledge, even though Eliot cunningly tries to upgrade you to the level of a shrewd, perceptive confidante, while at the end you come to realize Continue reading

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