The Mill on the Floss By George Eliot Summary and Analysis Book 6: The Great Temptation: Chapter 3 - Confidential Moments

Summary

Maggie is unable to sleep that night because of the memory of Stephen's singing and his glances. The feelings aroused by the music, the "presence of a world of love and beauty and delight," remain with her. At length Lucy comes to talk to her. She asks what Maggie thinks of Stephen, and is told that he is too self-confident. Lucy says that Philip is to come the next day. Maggie tells Lucy she cannot see Philip without Tom's leave. She finds it necessary to tell Lucy that she has promised not to see Philip again, and finally Lucy pries from her the story of her connection with Philip. Lucy finds it "very beautiful," and she sets out to find a way to bring them together again. At this Maggie shivers, "as if she felt a sudden chill."

Analysis

Music to Maggie is made of "wild passion and fancy," and it is emphasized that she has been strongly affected by "hearing some fine music sung by a fine bass voice" — a voice we know to be Stephen's. "Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music." Note that later it is an effortless mode of existence, for which she longs, which lulls Maggie into acquiescence with Stephen's plan to elope. Their love affair is largely expressed in images such as these. Music and effortless delight, things which Maggie renounced in her early religious faith, are the things she most closely associates with Stephen and her love for him.

When Maggie confesses to Lucy that she loves Philip, the author hints twice that this is less than true. At the suggestion that she may be able to marry Philip, "Maggie tried to smile, but shivered, as if she felt a sudden chill." This represents the thought, still unconscious in her, that she really cannot love Philip. The second hint of trouble to come is the author's statement that, although Maggie had been sincere, "confidences are sometimes blinding, even when they are sincere." Maggie means what she says, but Lucy continues to believe that Maggie loves Philip even after it ceases to be true.

Lucy is still thought of as a child, a "pretty spaniel"; but her character is being more and more fully developed. Her reaction to Maggie's plight is predictable, but it is mature. Only her faith and loyalty are childlike.

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