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Pleasures of BenthamismVictorian Literature, Utility, Political Economy$
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Kathleen Blake

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563265

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563265.001.0001

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Pains—Capital versus the Gift in The Mill on the Floss

Pains—Capital versus the Gift in The Mill on the Floss

Chapter:
(p.111) 4 Pains—Capital versus the Gift in The Mill on the Floss
Source:
Pleasures of Benthamism
Author(s):

Kathleen Blake (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563265.003.0004

As it acknowledges the pain of work, Utilitarian political economic acknowledges the pain of capital savings for investment, achieved through parsimony. This correlates with Malthusian ‘moral restraint.’ To many, Eliot's Mill on the Floss has seemed strained in plot coherence. But attention to economic transactions not usually looked at reveals a narrative logic linking the fatal financial ruin of Tulliver Sr. to the fate of his children, though this seems remote from money concerns. Eliot endorses a capitalist delimitation of privation‐‐‐seen in capitalist lending and related sexual restraint. Absent this delimitation, a pre‐capitalist economics of the gift leads to bankruptcy and sacrifice of love and life itself. Gift economics is identified with Christian asceticism and is most likely to govern relations between those in a class or gender hierarchy.

Keywords:   asceticism, capital, class, Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, gender, gift economics, lending, narrative logic, principle of pain, sexual ‘moral restraint’

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