The Clue of Life: Translating Feuerbach in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss

Saswati Halder

Associate Professor, Department of English, Jadavpur University. Email:

Volume 10, Number 3, 2018 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v10n3.02

Received April 30, 2018; Accepted on  August 15, 2018; Published September 13,  2018.


The central preoccupation of George Eliot’s life was with religion. In her novels she searched for a view of life that would give modern man a sense of purpose, dignity and ethical direction. On reading Eliot’s novels with the knowledge of her intellectual development, one must ask how this earnest agnostic could treat traditional religion so sympathetically, why she made the religious experience the subject of her creative work, and what moral truth she found religion to embody. It was the philosophy of the German anthropologist Ludwig Feuerbach, whose book The Essence of Christianity she translated in 1854, in combination with her own earlier experiences as a Christian, which led Eliot to her understanding of the subjective reality embodied in Christianity. ‘With the ideas of Feuerbach,’ Eliot wrote, ‘I everywhere agree’ (Haight, 1954-55, p.153). My paper attempts to show how the influence of Feuerbach achieves complexity and vitality in Eliot’s novel The Mill on the Floss and how Eliot establishes her faith in firm and lasting relations, which could be attained through the adjustment of the individual to the community. This adjustment comes as a corollary to the protagonist’s realization of the principles that promote love, respect, tolerance and sacrifice for others.

Keywords: religious humanism, suffering of love, Feuerbach