Dark Women In George Eliot's The Mill On The Floss

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A dark woman’s Triumph
“I didn’t finish the book”, said Maggie. “[…] I’m determined to read no more books where the blonde haired women carry away all the happiness. [..] If you could give me some story, now, where the dark woman triumphs, it would restore the balance – I want to avenge Rebecca and Flora Mac-Ivor, and Minna and all the rest of the dark unhappy ones” (Eliot 433). George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss delves into this centuries old literary tradition, demanding the reader to avenge Maggie Tulliver, the novel’s “dark and unhappy one” (Eliot 433), as well as Eliot herself. Eliot’s characterisation of the novel’s heroine, as dark and rebellious, unlike Charlotte Bronte’s reserved Jane Eyre, evidently becomes one of the leading factors in her tragic death. Although Eliot contested feminism in her time, claiming to be “a daughter of the fathers” (Mitchell 14), her novels nonetheless strive to give a realistic depiction of social outsiders and small town persecution .Rather than creating “silly novels by lady novelists [who] rarely introduce us into any other than very lofty and fashionable society” (Eliot 1856), Eliot challenges the representations of dark women in traditional English society, much like a late Jean Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea, detailing their hardships and unpleasant endings. Therefore, in analysing what Philip terms as Maggie’s “long suicide” (Eliot 429), I aim to uncover the years of societal abuse dark women endured in European society,

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