Authors before the 1900
The Savior: A Hero or a Heroine?
In the Victorian Era, persons was not characterized by the equality they share, but by the apparent difference between them. Not only are men and women different physically but then the difference was also apparent through their mental and emotional capabilities. Men possessed the capability for reason, action, aggression, and independence. While women inherited qualities of femininity, such as submission, passivity, and dependence. Women was usually secluded to the home, while Men had many types of freedoms. Families was usually a patriarchal lineage, this means that men were entitled to be known as the head of the family, and the guardian of the family members. The man of the family was the protector and the lord, strong and brave, all qualities of a natural born hero. While on the other hand, women was not seen as being heroines but seen as the damsels in distress. Many of these qualities could be seen in Tom and Maggie, the brother and sister, in George Eliot’s realism novel The Mill on the Floss. This novel was set in the Victorian Era so many of the gender rules apply, but there is evidence to show a subliminal message of female empowerment and feministic qualities through the bildungsroman of Maggie Tulliver. The idea of being the “hero” or the “savior”, usually depicts a young man such as Tom, who works hard to try and restore his families good name, while Maggie is just seen a girl that isn’t capable of the same actions. In the novel, even though Tom portrays to have good actions to better his family and portray himself as the hero, he typically takes on the antagonist’s role, when it comes to his sister Maggie. While gender roles shape the society in which the Tulliver’s live, Eliot uses Maggie to show that females have the same potential to be a heroine within a novel, while Tom even though a man, also have the potential to be an antagonist. When examining the Bildungsroman of Maggie and Tom, we see a pattern constantly taking place. Maggie always outwit Tom, because in the novel even though she is younger, she exudes more intelligence and knowledge of the world and people around her. Tom is the older brother, but most of the time he might feel inferior to Maggie. The only way he could make sure his dominant is known within their relationship is through their gender role expectations. Maggie says to Tom, “But I shall be a clever woman […] everybody’ll hate you”, and Tom rebuttals, “Well, you’ll be a woman someday [...] So you needn’t talk.” (Eliot 46-18) So even though Tom is the older brother, he always has to reassert himself as the dominant figure, not because Maggie says something wrong, but because he doesn’t want her to forget her place in society, or even within the household.. So even though Tom goes to school, and is seen as the Tulliver that will take