Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Genre

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Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Realism, Tragedy

That’s a lot of genres, but this is a pretty complex book. First off, family drama. This novel is a careful portrait of the lives of siblings Tom and Maggie Tulliver. Tom and Maggie are at the center of this book, along with the rest of their extended and extensive family. Family drama is probably the most prominent genre here, given the fact that most of the characters are related and the fact that family is a major theme.

This book is also an historical fiction, since it is set in the past, around forty years before its publication date in 1860, and depicts the changes in society and the economy during that time. History is also a notable theme in the book as well.

Finally we have realism and tragedy. Eliot is careful to present very detailed and realistic pictures of her characters’ lives. Her focus is also on average people instead of simply the elite. This realism merges into tragedy as well. No one has a very happy life in this book, and the ending is filled with the hallmarks of tragedy: death and destruction.

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