The Mill on the Floss

by George Eliot

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Student Question

What does characterization mean, and how is it used for Maggie in The Mill On The Floss?

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There are a lot of things that one can say about characterization. In the most basic definition of characterization is the way a character in a story is portrayed by the author. With that said, there are many different ways in which an author can build characterization.

1. An author can just simply describe the character - physical appearance, emtional qualities, personal traits, etc.

2. An author can also indirectly build a character by the actions and thought of other characters.

3. There can be even more indirect ways to build a character, by allowing the reader only to see the actions of the character in view, so that the reader form an independent opinion.

In a word, there are many different ways to portray a character and the various ways are called part of what is called, characterization.

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An example of characterization can be seen in the novel 'The Mill on the Floss' by George Eliot. Characterization in general relates to the way characters are portrayed by an author. This can take many forms, direct characterization,indirect characterization and allusion to give but a few. In the case of Maggie, she is shown as being hot-headed, clever,quick-witted but warmly emotional. However, these character traits, as Maggie finds to her intense irritation and frustration, are not attributes valued in females in her time. Some people are even upset by her mop pf curls which could be seen as an outward sign of her 'unruly-ness.' Eliot uses her personal description of looks to add characterization. Her mixed up convictions about her gifts make her vulnerable to low self-esteem caused by others.

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