(Re)Viewing Maggie and Tess through the Lens of Standpoint Theory

Sardar M Anwaruddin


Literary critics admire George Eliot's touching portrayal of Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on the Floss. Many readers prefer to read Maggie's character as a reworking of Eliot's own life. In this article, I compare Maggie with another famous literary heroine, Tess Durbeyfield of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Tess is a "low-born" country girl whose suffering begins as soon as her family discovers that they have noble connections. Both Maggie and Tess go through hardship and humiliation due to their sense of responsibility and commitment to do the best for their families. Looking at these two characters through the lens of feminist standpoint theory, I argue that Maggie and Tess' social locations, imposed gender-roles, and families' expectations are among the primary causes of their tragedy. As members of the oppressed (gender) group, their epistemologies to understand the reality and to make sense of their social relationships contradict with those of the dominant group-masculine.    


Maggie; Tess; Femininity; Masculinity; Standpoint Theory; Epistemology

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21533/epiphany.v6i1.56


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