The wonderful little girl Maggie, in a fit of pique and sorrow, hacks off her glorious dark curls and then succumbs to horror at the consequences, such as anger and mockery among the family.  She hides herself in the attic to avoid them, which leads to other equally heart-breaking consequences such as not seeing her visiting cousins and having to forego the apricot pudding and custard dessert.

What to do, but sob?  I loved the originality of the simile Eliot uses to underline the girl’s despair.

‘What could she do but sob?  She sat as helpless and despairing among her black locks as Ajax among the slaughtered sheep.’ 


Source: George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), p. 67

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