7 Pages

Conclusion: The Mills in History

EARLY in the nineteenth century, John Stuart Mill became locked, as we have seen, in a seemingly fated embrace with his father and his father's generation. For James Mill, too, the relation to his son was a central experience, recalling his own rearing and testing the identity he had worked out for himself as a “self-made man.” Joined in a momentous father-son relation, the two protagonists sought to define one another's existence, as well as to forge, or reaffirm, their own separate personalities. Though they attempted to fight out their battles as if no one else were involved, it is clear that their struggles—andconciliations—involved the women in their lives, as well as all other members of the family, stretching from grandparents through siblings to children of the next generation. It is in the context of this large “family” that we have tried to treat of James and John Stuart Mill as a father-son conflict.