Study Guide

Mrs. Deane in The Mill on the Floss

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Mrs. Deane

Mrs. Deane is the hardest to understand of the former Miss Dodsons. She is the most removed from the family, which the narrator hints regularly. Mrs. Deane is both literally and figuratively removed from her sisters and their families. She is literally removed from them by her growing wealth and her rising social status:

Mr. Deane had been advancing in the world as rapidly as Mr. Tulliver had been going down in it, and in Mrs. Deane’s house, the Dodson linen and plate were beginning to hold quite a subordinate position as a mere supplement to the handsomer articles of the same kind, purchased in recent years. (3.3.2)

The wealthier she gets, the more removed she becomes from her family members, who are now of a lower social status than she is. Figuratively, she is also removed from her extended family. During gatherings she is the least likely to speak up and she seems to be content to stay out of arguments and not entangle herself in family drama. She also seems concerned about Lucy’s relationship with her cousins, though her husband doesn’t seem to care if Lucy socializes with them or not. Mrs. Deane dies while Lucy is still quite young and, after her mother’s death, Lucy grows closer to Mrs. Tulliver.

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