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The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss


by George Eliot

The Mill on the Floss Book 5, Chapter 5 Summary

The Cloven Tree

  • Maggie is worried that someone is going to find out about her secret meetings with Philip and she imagines lots of scenarios where her secret is outed.
  • The day after her latest meeting with her now kind-of boyfriend Philip, Maggie has tea with her family and the Pullets.
  • Tom is in a super mood and has been happy that Maggie quit being so weird over the past year.
  • Everyone comments on how nice Maggie is looking.
  • The Pullets and the Tullivers start gossiping about Lucy and Mrs. Pullet mentions Philip Wakem. She says she saw him hanging around the Red Deeps the other day.
  • Maggie freaks out at this statement and quickly tries to chill out, hoping that no one noticed.
  • No one did notice, except for Tom.
  • Tom is really suspicious and, being Tom, he instantly suspects the worst of Maggie.
  • Later that day, Tom is talking with Bob Jakin, who comments on Philip. Bob has seen Philip hanging around the river lots of times.
  • Tom rushes home to confront Maggie with his suspicions.
  • He tells her that they are going to the Red Deeps to meet Philip. He demands that she confess everything.
  • Maggie explains everything to Tom – how long she’s been meeting Philip, their professions of love, etc.
  • Tom is outraged. He tells Maggie that she can either swear on a Bible that she’ll never see Philip again, or he will tell Mr. Tulliver everything.
  • Maggie is crushed by this choice. She begs to talk to Philip privately one last time, but Tom refuses. Tom clearly isn’t a romantic – though maybe he is and he realizes that every epic love-story needs an interfering jerk who tries to keep the couple apart. Way to step up to the plate there, Tom.
  • Maggie finally swears on the Bible to never see Philip again. She is both humiliated and angry at Tom’s treatment of her.
  • Tom drags Maggie to the Red Deeps and proceeds to confront Philip.
  • The two get into a huge argument over Maggie – each accuse the other of treating her badly. Tom gets really nasty to Philip and insults his family and his deformity. Maggie gets upset.
  • Maggie says she’s going along with this because of her father and Philip says he understands and his feelings haven’t changed.
  • Tom drags Maggie away.
  • Maggie fights with Tom after they walk for a bit. She tells him he is judgmental and cruel and Tom insists that he is right and she should submit to him.
  • Maggie runs upstairs when they get home, furious and crying.
  • But she is also a little bit relieved to not see Philip anymore.

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