Furthermore, the author conveys the Tulliver men as lacking the ability to forgive, and having very little compassion and sympathy towards certain people, using action and dialogue. Mr. Tulliver is characterized by Eliot as unforgiving, as seen by the phrase ‘I won’t forgive him… I wish evil may befall him’, when he is making Tom sign the Bible condemning Mr. Wakem. This shows the reader, that though Mr. Tulliver was at fault by going to ‘law’ he still held a grudge, which is further reinforced later in the book where he ‘flogged [Wakem] fiercely’. The audience sees this merciless personality as eventually killing Mr. Tulliver, for has a heart attack due to his violent outburst, which could be the author conveying how the lack of forgiveness and holding a grudge was a dangerous and unhealthy trait. Contrastingly, Mr. Tulliver is portrayed as a very compassionate and sympathetic man when it came to his sister, Moss, for he refuses to let her family pay him back even in his time of need, as seen by the phrase ‘burn the note’, that was a receipt for the debt the Moss’ owed the Tullivers, showing the audience how he didn’t want to compromise his sisters family for his own. This is due to Mr. Tulliver seeing Maggie in his sister: ‘his love and anxiety for ‘the little wench’ had given him a new sensibility for his sister’. In addition to this, the recurring theme of sympathy, forgiveness and compassion is conveyed in Tom’s unforgiving nature as shown by the fact that he refuses to forgive Maggie after she runs away with Stephen, though she did not do anything wrong; this is seen by the phrase ‘you will find no home with me… you have disgraced us all’. This shows the audience that though Tom has no proof Maggie has been immoral he still refuses to let her live with him, for he feels, as the man of the house, that he should ‘punish’ he for her wrongdoings. Moreover, throughout the book, Maggie is portrayed as begging for Tom’s forgiveness for example, ‘Tom forgive me – let us always love each other’, which is what she tells him when their father dies. This shows the audience how Tom was always reprimanding Maggie for he felt it was justice for him to tell her right from wrong. This could be the author conveying the theme of sexism, for Tom felt, that as a man he was never in the wrong and should punish women when they were. The Tulliver men portray the reoccurring themes of sympathy, forgiveness and compassion, as well, but very differently to Maggie for they fit in more in society and where less impacted by the societal rules and conventions.
In addition to this, Eliot portrays the 1830’s English society as being unforgiving and unsympathetic, as shown throughout the novel with the use of language and literary devices. The judgment passed by St. Ogg’s community is very harsh after Maggie returns from running away. This is seen by the phrase ‘ no one would have spoken to her’. This shows the audience how society at the time were quick to pass judgment even without proper evidence. Additionally, the theme of sympathy is portrayed as well, but towards men, instead of women, which is conveyed by the narrator through the phrase ‘Mr. Stephen Guest had not behaved well… but then young men were liable to those sudden infatuated attachments’; this shows the reader how men had an excuse to be impulsive but women, on the other hand, were looked down on for deviating from societies rules. This may be Eliot conveying how society judged women more for they were subordinates in the English 1830’s society. The theme of forgiveness and sympathy is largely portrayed at the end of the novel, for the audience see’s how the community reacts a person deviating from their norms.
In conclusion, the themes of forgiveness, compassion, and sympathy are abundant in The Mill on The Floss, this is seen through the relationships of the characters and society. Eliot does this so that the audience can understand the issues during the 1830’s.