The Mill on the Floss was strongly influenced by Elective Affinities, a famous novel by the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Below is an extract from Elective Affinities. It describes what happens when Charlotte, who is married to a wealthy Count, goes boating with a house guest. The guest is an old friend of her husband’s known as the Captain. Charlotte finds herself attracted to the Captain but she has struggled against her desires. Whilst rowing Charlotte on a lake, the Captain has run the boat aground and has had to carry Charlotte ashore. He then kisses her before dropping to the floor at her feet.
"The kiss which her friend had dared to give her and which she had almost given him in return brought Charlotte to her senses. She pressed his hand but did not raise him. Bending down to him and laying a hand on his shoulder she cried: ‘We cannot prevent this moment from marking an epoch in our lives; but whether it be one worthy of us, that we can still decide. You must leave, my dear friend, and you will leave. The Count is making arrangements to advance you, which is a cause of joy to me and also of grief. I wanted to say nothing about it, until it was certain; but now the moment obliges me to reveal my secret. I can forgive you and forgive myself only if we have the courage to alter our situation, since it is not within our power to alter our feelings.’ She raised him up, took his arm to support herself, and they returned to the Hall in silence."
What moments from The Mill on the Floss are comparable to the Captain kissing Charlotte? Which character in The Mill on the Floss is similar to Charlotte? Add your thoughts to the comments at the bottom of this page.
Visit where George Eliot grew up
George Eliot was the penname of Marian Evans. Evans was born in Nuneaton in 1819. A large collection of objects connected with her is displayed at Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery. These include personal belongings, family belongings, commemorative ware, souvenirs, books and artwork illustrating places her stories were set locally.
Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery is open Tuesdays to Sundays (it is also open on Bank Holiday Mondays). Admission is free. The address is Riversley Park, Coton Road, Nuneaton, CV11 5TU. Full details can be found at their website and on their Personalia collections and exhibitions page. Objects and artefacts from the George Eliot exhibition can also be seen at Windows on Warwickshire or on the Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery blog.
What was your favourite object? Share your adventure by adding to the comments at the bottom of this page.
More about The Mill on the Floss
The real places that inspired Eliot: See George Eliot’s manuscript and the fictional names she gave to real places.
Titles that sell: See the changes George Eliot made as she wrote The Mill on the Floss.
The Secret Life of Books: Find out more about the other books in the series.