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The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss


by George Eliot

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Tragedy

Anticipation Stage

From the beginning of the book until Tom leaves for school

During this stage we get to know our two main characters, Tom and Maggie. We learn about their respective personalities and how their character traits are likely setting them up for future hardship. We also get foreboding hints regarding floods and Mr. Tulliver’s lawsuit here.

Dream Stage

The period while Tom is at school

Things seem to be going well for Tom and Maggie. Maggie meets Philip during this time, who will have a major impact on her life. And Tom, though he is often frustrated by school, is relatively content and not really worried about the future.

Frustration Stage

Mr. Tulliver loses his lawsuit and the family is bankrupt. The stage goes through Maggie’s secret relationship with Philip.

The Tulliver family is suddenly in financial ruin and the family as a whole is disgraced and hugely depressed. Tom begins to work and Maggie seeks solace in religion and later in her friendship with Philip. The family is united in a hopeful future goal, though: paying off their debts.

Nightmare Stage

From the discovery of Maggie’s relationship with Philip until Maggie and Stephen’s elopement

Things spin out of control during these chapters. Maggie is forced to stop seeing Philip and her relationship with Tom is badly damaged. Mr. Tulliver dies after attacking Wakem. And Maggie goes through a period of intense emotional struggle as she is tempted into a relationship with Stephen Guest. The nightmare here is mainly Maggie’s, but other major characters, like Tom, continue to suffer in this stage.

Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Maggie ends her relationship with Stephen and is disgraced; a tragic flood claims the lives of Tom and Maggie

After ending things with Stephen, Maggie’s reputation is ruined and she is disgraced. Though she reconciles with many of her friends and family she is ostracized, or excluded, from St. Ogg’s and faces a lot of future misery. Tom and Maggie manage to reconcile, but they are then tragically killed in a flood.

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