The Mill on the Floss

by George Eliot

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Book 7, Chapter 3 Summary

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Maggie’s Aunt Glegg surprises the family. When Maggie disappeared, Aunt Glegg first thought that her niece had drowned. She became depressed and closed her shutters, refusing to go out. However, when Aunt Glegg learns from Tom that Maggie has come home and then hears what Tom said to Maggie, the old aunt is furious. No matter what someone in the family does, according to Aunt Glegg, family members must always stick together and support one another. Tom was awful, in Aunt Glegg’s mind, to refuse to shelter and love his sister. Aunt Glegg also argues with her husband for turning his complete sympathies toward Lucy. He has no compassion for Maggie and judges her as harshly as any other citizen of St. Ogg’s does.

When Aunt Glegg reads Stephan’s letter, she feels completely vindicated for her stance. The next time Tom comes to visit, she reprimands him again. This second confrontation is even more severe than the first. She blames Tom for not seeing who Maggie really is and how strong she was to return home after turning down Stephan’s plea to run away and marry him. Tom is too headstrong to change his mind. He tells his aunt that he cannot stand the thought of his sister and how she has damaged the family.

Aunt Glegg greets her sister warmly when Mrs. Tulliver visits her. The only thing Aunt Glegg holds against her is that she did not come to her for advice. Mrs. Glegg also asks her sister to tell Maggie that she should come by the house as soon as possible. When Maggie hears this, she is appreciative of her aunt’s benevolence. However, she is not ready to converse with family members yet. The only person she wants to see is Dr. Kenn.

Maggie would like to hear news about Philip, so she asks her mother to investigate. Mrs. Tulliver hears very little about the young man. The only thing she can confirm is that no doctor has called at the Wakem house, so Philip has not been made ill by the event.

A few days later, Bob comes into the house with a letter for Maggie from Philip. In the opening lines, Philip declares his full trust in Maggie. He does not believe that Maggie used him or acted deceitfully. He knows Maggie was as honest about her feelings as she could be. He feels he forced his own feelings on her and made her feel indebted to him. Philip also understands the power Stephan had over Maggie, and he admires Maggie’s strength to eventually turn away from Stephan. Philip realized that Stephan had fallen in love with Maggie and would not relent in trying to take her away. He saw it all coming before anything happened. Philip ends his letter by declaring his unending love for Maggie. Although he is not ready to face her, more for a fear of what everyone else will say than his not wanting to see her, he promises he will be there whenever she needs him.

When Maggie is finished reading Philip’s letter, she wonders out loud if there is any happiness in love that will ever make her forget the pain she has caused.

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