Lucy Deane: Character Analysis in The Mill on The Floss

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      Lucy Deane is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Deane. She is the cousin of Maggie, and the two frequently play together in their girlhood. In the novel, The Mill on The Floss, she has been presented as a foil to Maggie. Lucy is just a little older than Maggie. She is extremely sweet-looking, dwarfish, but most fair-complexioned, slim and yet round in all her limbs. She is well dressed and well kept by her mother, unlike Maggie who is most shabby, in spite of her mother’s utmost care. Maggie is an obstinate girl; she is also indifferent to any kind of outward show. Maggie is impulsive while Lucy is sedate; Maggie is precocious ‘but Lucy is intelligent just like the average girl. “If you look at her face, you will take her to be a simpleton, which, of course, she is not; but then, she is not half as sharp or quick as Maggie.”

      As a girl, she is, “pretty, little pink and white Lucy”, and this is also the basis of her character when she grows up. Maggie is different. She is more subtle and complex. “Maggie is in many ways the opposite of Lucy; she is markedly intelligent, instead of merely not stupid. She is tall, dark, striking-looking, instead of small, fair and pretty. She is angular and unconventional, instead of pliant and conformist.” Stephen has a high opinion of her and thinks, “she was quite the sort of wife a man would not be likely to repent of marrying...a woman who was loving and thoughtful...Lucky was pretty... A man likes his wife to be accomplished, gentle, affectionate, and not stupid; and Lucy had all these qualifications. Stephen meant to choose Lucy—she was a little darling, and exactly the sort of woman he had always most admired.” However, Maggie is much more fascinating. When Maggie appears on the scene he falls in love with her at first sight, deserts Lucy and elopes with her. Maggie’s charms are much more potent than those of her cousin.

      Lucy Deane has a number of qualities of head and heart which endear her to all readers of the novel. She is loving, generous, sympathetic, the very soul of courtesy and loving-kindness. She welcomes Maggie to her home, and makes her comfortable in every possible way. Under the impression that Maggie and Philip are lovers, she does her best to promote their love. She arranges matters in such a way that Philip and Maggie should go out alone on the boating expedition. It is another matter that her intentions misfire, and instead of Philip, Stephen arrives and the catastrophic elopement is the consequence. She is not at all jealous and does not suspect, not even once, that Stephen really loved Maggie, and very soon she would be jilted in such a cruel manner. After Maggie’s return to St. Ogg’s she goes to meet her, and makes it quite clear that she considers her innocent and has full faith in her. Thus she shows that she is also intelligent, shrewd and can look through surface appearances and understand the reality that is hidden beneath.

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