The Mill on the Floss

by George Eliot

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What are the autobiographical elements in The Mill on the Floss?

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The Mill on the Floss is an autobiographical novel, meaning it incorporates elements from Eliot's own life. She is similar in ways to Maggie Tulliver, while Tom is based on her older brother Isaac, and Maggie's relationship with her father is much like her own with her real father.

For example, George Eliot had a religious conversion experience similar to Maggie's in the novel. Eliot also experienced much of the sexism that holds Maggie back in the novel, such as the-less able brother being offered educational opportunities denied the more intelligent sister who yearns for learning and the life of the mind. Both Maggie and Eliot, too, are unable to conform to the rigid expectations of how women were expected to behave in Victorian society, especially in terms of perceived sexual purity.

Eliot, like Maggie, has a fond father who is not very intellectual.

Tom, like Eliot's brother Isaac, is very conventional, and Isaac, as Tom does with Maggie, hurts Eliot deeply by cutting her off when she offended his sense of right and wrong.

Eliot used her own family as a basis for exploring the dynamics in a typical Victorian family bound by rigid social expectations.

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