Book 1, Chapters 7-13

So maybe it’s just that Eliot’s writing is an easier fit for my preferences, but this book is moving along well at the moment, and I’m enjoying it. This is basically about all of the 2nd half of Book 1.

We get a whole bunch of insight about the various Dodson sisters (now adults, all married, so they’re Mrs. Glegg, Mrs. Deane, Mrs. Pullet and our familiar Mrs. Tulliver). Some are richer, some poorer, Mrs. Glegg is pretty disagreeable.

Mr. Tulliver has borrowed 500 pounds from Mrs. Glegg at some point and he’s intent on paying it back early as a sort of “screw you” statement to her so she can’t hold it over him.

Mr. Tulliver has also loaned 300 pounds to his own (only sibling) sister. He wants to call in the loan right away (to help pay back Mrs. Glegg) but then he softens because his sister (who has 8 kids and not a lot of money) reminds him of his daughter Maggie, and he wouldn’t want Tom to be mean to Maggie so maybe he shouldn’t be mean to his own sister.

Mr. Tulliver somehow owes about 2000 pounds of mortgage on the mill.

Maggie cuts off her hair. Everyone is very harsh with her about it, except her dad.

Maggie runs away after Tom is mean to her (by giving preferential treatment to their pristine cousin Lucy) and hangs out alone with some gypsies. She is small but still racist and gross about it. The gypsy father brings her back to her own father, who gives him some money.

Tom (who is still obsessed with “justice” and wrath) is going off to the new school taught by the religious guy (parson? priest?) and apparently someone named Wakem is sending his own son “the deformed lad” to the same teacher.

About the writing: Eliot’s asides and universal statements are still here – not quite as many through here stood out to me. She does a good job of getting us in the head of Maggie and remembering childhood fears and sadness as being very large and very real. This strikes me as especially interesting since Victorian attitudes toward children were usually pretty matter-of-fact and not very sympathetic.

“Childhood has no forebodings; but then it is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow.”

Maggie seems younger than 9 to me – more like 6 or 7. I’m not sure if that’s more about her as a character or childhood at the time.

 

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