The Mill on the Floss
The Mill on the Floss Gender Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"But it’s bad - it’s bad," Mr. Tulliver added, sadly, checking this blamable exultation, "a woman’s no business wi’ being so clever; it’ll turn to trouble, I doubt." (1.3.15)
Mr. Tulliver frequently complains about the fact that Maggie's so smart and Tom isn't. Even though he is proud of Maggie, his view of her intelligence is influenced by the Victorian era’s views on women.
"Well, you’ll be a woman some day," said Tom, ‘"so you needn’t talk."
"But I shall be a clever woman," said Maggie, with a toss.
"O, I dare say, and a nasty conceited thing. Everybody’ll hate you." (2.1.46-8)
Maggie once again runs into trouble because of her intelligence, and her own confidence in her intelligence. Tom’s tendency to mock Maggie’s brains may stem in part from the fact that Mr. Tulliver is always praising Maggie and writing off Tom as an idiot.
While Maggie’s life-struggles had lain almost entirely within her own soul, one shadowy army fighting another, and the slain shadows for ever rising again, Tom was engaged in a dustier, noisier warfare, grappling with more substantial obstacles, and gaining more definite conquests. So it has been since the days of Hecuba, and of Hector [...] women [...] filling their long empty days with memories and fears: outside, the men in fierce struggle with things divine and human, quenching memory in the stronger light of purpose [...]." (5.2.1)
This section has powerful imagery – Maggie’s battles are seen as "shadowy" and almost supernatural and scary, while Tom’s battles are linked to "real" warfare, which is dirty and noisy. Maggie’s internal struggles and Tom’s external ones are also tied to the condition of men and women more generally. Men can go "outside" to fight, so to speak, while women must remain inside.