George Eliot-Tom

In Eliot’s novel, The Mill on the Floss, Tom, seems to have his own opinion about fairness and justice. Almost from the beginning Tom seems to be child-like and stubborn in his responses to situations concerning his sister Maggie.

After finding out that his bunnies are dead and his sister openly admits to not feeding them, Tom claims to not love her and when she clings to him he shrugs her off. In this situation his anger is understandable, however his response to his sister is cruel.

When Tom steals two pastries for himself and Maggie, he asks his sister to pick one fairly (one has more jam than the other). When Maggie ends up with the pastry containing more jam, she attempts to give it to her brother. Tom, being stubborn, eats the smaller of the two and later watches Maggie finish the bigger pastry with open anger. He calls his sister greedy, and runs away. This seems to be an overdramatic response to the situation, which leaves his sister alone and confused.

Another situation involves Maggie knocking down his card house. Tom claims it was not an accident on Maggie’s part and remains detached to his distraught sister. He also orders his sister away when she follows him and Lucy to the pond and later slaps Maggie for shoving Lucy into the mud.

Maggie’s actions can understandably cause anger, however, her brother seems to overly punish her by taking away his affections.

1 thought on “George Eliot-Tom

  1. Yes, I feel this way too. I wondered if it was just because they were children and children can react quite strongly and unreasonably. I’d be curious to hear if you think Tom still reacts too strongly or unreasonably later, when they are both older. In other words, does this seem to be related to his age, or is it a more permanent character trait with him?

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