Compare And Contrast The Mill On The Floss And Adam Bede

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The theme of childhood occupies an evocative position in both Mill on the Floss and Adam Bede: the nuanced and remarkably perceptive psychological elements of George Eliot’s writing are evident in her narrative treatment of children and their relation to the larger social world of the novels. Eliot’s literary insights on childhood incorporate the relevance of memory, temporality, and the notion of the self, and function as thematic signifiers for the respective characterizations of multiple protagonists in both novels. The narrative treatment of children and childhood in The Mill on the Floss and Adam Bede has a particular impact upon the psychological representation of characters in each respective text, but the form of this impact differs significantly in relation to each novel. In The Mill on the Floss, a rich psychological portrayal of the complexity and passions of childhood provides the foundation upon which Maggie’s troubling but sympathetic character is formed. In contrast, Adam Bede achieves a sinister psychological impact through its striking representational absence of children, but evokes a disappointingly shallow depiction of youth in the characterization of Hetty Sorrel. This notion of childhood, whether as a temporal vacuum of spiritual harmony or as a site for base selfishness, emerges as a primary recurring theme in both novels, but is used to a far greater effect in The Mill on the Floss. Early in the narrative of The Mill on the Floss, the narrator
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