The Mill on the Floss Book 6, Chapter 2 Summary

George Eliot

Book 6, Chapter 2 Summary

Maggie has arrived at the Deanes’ house, and Lucy is talking to her about Stephan. Lucy says she is sure Maggie will like him. Maggie, however, is not so sure. She says any man who thinks he is good enough for her cousin will have to be scrutinized very carefully. Maggie tells Lucy she will be very difficult to please. Lucy claims that Stephan is actually too good for her. When he is not with her, she cannot imagine why he loves her. However, she never doubts his love when he is with her. She then admits that she has never told anyone else how she feels about him. She also confesses that she would rather not be engaged just yet. She likes the way their relationship is without a commitment to marriage. She hopes they are able to maintain their relationship on this level for a long time, though she suspects Stephan is getting close to asking her father for his permission to marry her.

Lucy changes the subject and attempts to cheer her cousin by talking about buying some new clothes for her. Maggie says her unhappiness has become a bad habit. She likens her sadness to a caged bear who thinks he is still in confinement even when he has been let loose. Lucy has trouble imagining all the hardships Maggie has endured. Lucy says she has had so much happiness in her life that she does not know if she could bear much trouble.

Maggie praises Lucy for her ability to find happiness in making other people experience pleasure. Maggie fears she is just the opposite. She says that sometimes she gets angry when she sees other people are happy. She is concerned that she is becoming more selfish as she gets older. Lucy counters this statement by telling Maggie that her anger and any other negative thoughts are due to her having suffered a very dreary, dull life.

When Lucy changes the subject to music, she mentions Philip’s name and notices a change in Maggie’s expression. Lucy asks Maggie if she minds talking about Philip. Maggie says that she likes Philip, and this makes Lucy happy. She decides to invite Philip to their home as soon as possible.

Their conversation is interrupted by Stephan’s arrival. Stephan is pleasantly shocked by Maggie’s beauty. Maggie feels flattered by his obvious attraction to her. She cannot remember anyone’s ever being so taken with her. When Maggie leaves the room, Lucy asks Stephan what he thinks of her cousin. Stephan admits that he was surprised by the girl’s beauty, but he quickly adds that he is not attracted to that type of beauty. The narrator points out that men often say things such as this, especially when their fiancées have the opposite type of look. The narrator hints that there is an attraction between Stephan and Maggie that neither of them is yet willing to admit.