Suffering, particularly of the emotional variety, seems to be the one universal constant in The Mill on the Floss. Suffering isn’t just expected by everyone, it’s even welcome by some of them. Maggie and her masochistic tendencies, or her tendency to seek out and even embrace her own suffering, comes to mind. Since everyone in this book suffers, what distinguishes people is how they deal with suffering, both their own and the suffering of others.
Maggie spends so much time and energy trying to avoid pain by denying herself things that she actually ends up causing herself more pain by creating a lot of inner conflict.
Maggie actually sabotages her own happiness because she likes, or at least is used to, her own suffering.