The Mill on the Floss

If you were directing a film version of The Mill on the Floss, how would you depict the flood and the deaths of Maggie and Tom? Would you make their fatal ending purely the result of an unfortunate accident, or are other interpretations possible?

chapter 7

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The ending scenes, and especially the flood, of The Mill on the Floss have been criticized for their unrealistic quality. Maggie's plea to know how much longer her painful life will last is met almost supernaturally by the immediate onset of the flood. Yet we know that George Eliot had planned on the flood from the beginning and meant for it to seem a realistic occurrence. To that end the flood represents Maggie's character. The flood, like Wakem's purchase of the mill, provides a tragic circumstance in which the tragedy of Maggie's character becomes clear. The flood also provides the heightened atmosphere of danger and sense of the power of Nature that is needed to properly put Maggie and Tom's differences into perspective. There is a film version to this but I never saw it. I think, however, the flood and the ending work nicely merging tragedy with character.