Most of the critics agree at this point that Eliot’s novel The Mill on the Floss is an autobiographical novel. As Victor Hogg says, “All serious works in the novels are
autobiographical.” As we see in The Canterbury Tales the knight represents Chaucer, in Faerie Queen the knight represents Spenser, in Paradise Lost Satan represents Milton and in The Mill on the Floss Maggie represents George Eliot.
Eliot appeared in the novel in guise of Maggie in a perfect way. Actually, Maggie is an autobiographical representation of Eliot in the novel. Actually, autobiographical elements come into novel from Bunyan and Goldsmith. After this, Fielding, Walpole, Richardson, Charles Dickens and George Eliot starting using autobiographical elements in her novels in a fine style.
There is a great similarity between Maggie and Eliot as Hudson says, “Eliot’s heroines like Romila, Asther, Lyon, Durotheo Brook all these heroines reveal Eliot different aspects of her life from childhood to youth.”
Eliot’s family among whom her aunts, cousins, brother, mother disliked her except her father who appreciated Eliot’s skill in every field of life and other family members called her a naughty and obstinate girl. Maggie’s quarrel with Tom reminds us her quarrel with her brother Isaac in childhood. After this Maggie went to Bob Jackin, Lucy’s suitor and fell in her love. In real life, Eliot went to see George Henry Lee, a modern critic of his age, and got marriage in spite of her brother’ refusal on this marriage.
“Eliot was a great artist and created a lot of immortal human characters gallery in the field of novel whose joys and sorrows the readers cannot forget in practical life.” These were the remarks of Henry Woven, a modern critic of novel. Maggie-Tom river episode reminds of her spending time with Isaac in her childhood, where they used to play by the river while going school.
Stephen instigated Maggie to flee from here with him she did but could not get marriage. It shows her sense of duty and desire that she shows in Maggie’s character in the novel in a fine style.
One thing is clear that Stephen and Henry both were engaged with someone else and Maggie loved both and married Henry. Just like Maggie loved Stephen and led a sinful life as Eliot led a sinful life and got marriage with Henry ignoring her brother’s advice. The Mill on the Floss represents Eliot in real life and in the novel Maggie represents Eliot in a fine way.
Besides, there are many elements which represent Eliot temperament, traits, personality in guise of Maggie. Maggie represents fully Eliot in every episode of the novel. Maggie is neglected girl just like Eliot is a neglected girl both are emotional one in the fiction and other in real life.
To sum up, the novel The Mill on the Floss is interwoven with the thread of autobiographical elements of time and place in the life of Eliot are shown in the life of Maggie skillfully to deceive the readers and critics. Maggie is the most tragic figure in the novel attracting the readers’ and critics’ attention to raise their comments on her.
We cannot call The Mill on the Floss wholly representing autobiographical elements just two incidents represent Eliot’s childhood episodes; Maggie-Tom quarrel, and Maggie-Stephen love affair. Actually, the novel is a spiritual autobiography of Eliot in a fine way. Representing her/his life in literature is common and every writer comes under the spell of autobiographical elements while writing plays, novel and poetry.