The Mill on the Floss and Double Standards
George Eliot's novel The Mill on the Floss is a Victorian novel that follows the development of Maggie's life since early childhood until her becoming a young woman. The Victorian period society had different standards of values concerning men and different ones concerning women. Those double standards fall hard upon Maggie's decision because, even though being guilty for the same wrongdoing as Stephen, being woman who went against the Victorian values was something that was judged by St. Ogg's society.
From the beginning of the novel, we find out that Maggie stands out from what was considered to be standards of Victorian feminine beauty. She did not have light complextion and fair hair, but the opposite, she had dark skin color and dark hair. But it was not just the way she looks that stood out from Victorian standards, she was different in matters of behavior and the way of thinking. Maggie was not like most of the girls of the time, she was smart, she liked reading books and was interested in knowing things, unlike her brother Tom who was not interested in reading books and generally was not smart the way that Maggie was. Here she faces those double standards for the first time. Even though Tom was not so smart, he, being boy, has the right to receive proper education and Maggie, even with all the potential she has, does not have the right to be properly educated. Why is that so? The answer is double standards. Women were not supposed to be that smart, education is not made for them, they should know their place-be housewives, take care of their husbands and children.
This is not the only time when those double standards fell hard on Maggie. The time that was the worst for her and where we can see those double standards, was upon her return to St. Ogg's and her facing first with her brother and than with the society. Tom was really cruel to Maggie when she returned unmarried, he did not even want to hear her...