The Mill on the Floss

by George Eliot

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What is the genre of the novel The Mill on the Floss?

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The Mill on the Floss is an example of a bildungsroman, or a novel that traces its protagonist's development from childhood to adulthood. The novel is also an example of Victorian literature, as it was published in 1860, and contains themes related to women and a complicated plot with several side stories.

The story follows Maggie Tulliver, a bright girl whose older brother, Tom, is less intellectual. Maggie eventually gets to know and like Tom's schoolmate, Philip Wakem, who is disabled, but Tom disapproves of their relationship. Maggie's  father engages in a lawsuit that he loses, while Wakem's father supports his opponent. Mr. Tulliver's lawsuit causes his health to suffer, and he eventually dies. Maggie visits her cousin, Lucy, and gets involved with her friend, Stephen Guest, who asks Maggie to run away with him. They spend the night in a boat that has drifted on the water, and Maggie is treated as a fallen woman as a result. In the end, she dies while trying to rescue her brother, Tom, from a flood. Nevertheless, this story has many elements of the bildungsroman, as it shows a girl's growth to womanhood.

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