Middlemarch

Middlemarch

by

George Eliot

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Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode Character Analysis

Mr. Bulstrode is a wealthy banker who was not born in Middlemarch, but rather moved there as an adult. Little is known about his family background, which makes him an object of suspicion. This suspicion is heightened by the fact that he is an evangelical Methodist, which is an unusual and distrusted form of faith in Middlemarch. Bulstrode occupies a number of prominent roles in Middlemarch, including being the founder and financer of the New Hospital, which he hires Lydgate to direct. Bulstrode passionately believes in bringing medical reform to the area and is frustrated by the opposition he encounters. Toward the end of the novel, John Raffles shows up in Middlemarch with a secret about Bulstrode’s past: as a young man Bulstrode was taken in by the Dunkirk family, who made their money from pawning stolen goods. He married the elderly widow Mrs. Dunkirk and deliberately concealed the location of her daughter Sarah so that he would inherit her wealth. Raffles’s attempt to blackmail Bulstrode fails when Raffles dies of alcohol poisoning; Bulstrode accelerated Raffles’s death by neglecting to tell the servant how much opium to give him and by giving in to his pleas for alcohol. However, it never becomes totally clear how guilty Bulstrode is in actually causing Raffles’ death. Despite Raffles’s death, Bulstrode’s secret becomes public knowledge in Middlemarch anyway. Mired in scandal, Bulstrode contemplates committing suicide, but eventually settles for leaving Middlemarch. He is able to get through this terrible period in part thanks to the loyal love of his wife, Mrs. Bulstrode.

Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode Quotes in Middlemarch

The Middlemarch quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode or refer to Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Middlemarch published in 2015.
Book 2, Chapter 13 Quotes

‘The standard of that profession is low in Middlemarch, my dear sir,’ said the banker. ‘I mean in knowledge and skill; not in social status, for our medical men are most of them connected with respectable townspeople here. My own imperfect health has induced me to give some attention to those palliative resources which the divine mercy has placed within our reach. I have consulted eminent men in the metropolis, and I am painfully aware of the backwardness under which medical treatment labours in our provincial districts.’

Related Characters: Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode (speaker), Tertius Lydgate
Related Symbols: New Hospital
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 44 Quotes

The immediate motive to the opposition, however, is the fact that Bulstrode has put the medical direction into my hands. Of course I am glad of that. It gives me an opportunity of doing some good work - and I am aware that I have to justify his choice of me. But the consequence is, that the whole profession in Middlemarch have set themselves tooth and nail against the Hospital, and not only refuse to co-operate themselves, but try to blacken the whole affair and hinder subscriptions.

Related Characters: Tertius Lydgate (speaker), Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode
Related Symbols: New Hospital
Page Number: 439
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 7, Chapter 64 Quotes

The business was felt to be so public and important that it required dinners to feed it, and many invitations were just then issued and accepted on the strength of this scandal concerning Bulstrode and Lydgate; wives, widows, and single ladies took their work and went out to tea oftener than usual; and all public conviviality, from the Green Dragon to Dollop's, gathered a zest which could not be won from the question whether the Lords would throw out the Reform Bill.

Page Number: 719-720
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode Character Timeline in Middlemarch

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Nicholas Bulstrode appears in Middlemarch. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 10
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...the wedding. Dorothea looks modest but serenely beautiful. Guests at the dinner include a banker (Bulstrode) who is a Methodist and thought to be a “hypocrite.” The men discuss Dorothea, debating... (full context)
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...Some of the men at the dinner party object to this enthusiasm for reform, but Bulstrode welcomes it, saying he hopes Lydgate will one day be in charge of the New... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
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...must not give Fred money to pay his debts, and says that he’s heard Mr. Bulstrode criticize Mrs. Vincy’s habit of spoiling her children. Mary mentions that she doesn’t like hearing... (full context)
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...again denies it, and Featherstone tells him he’s heard it’s true from Fred’s uncle Mr. Bulstrode. Horrified, Fred protests that Bulstrode “has a prejudice against me.” He says that he never... (full context)
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...of impressing Lydgate’s high-ranking relatives, while Fred frets over Featherstone’s request for the letter from Bulstrode. His boasts about his inheritance from Featherstone were uttered while he was drunk, and have... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 13
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Having heard Fred’s story, Mr. Vincy goes straight to the bank to speak with Bulstrode. People in Middlemarch distrust Bulstrode, some because he is a “Pharisee” and some because he... (full context)
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Lydgate has a charismatic speaking voice, and Bulstrode is moved. He agrees to help finance Lydgate’s ambitions. He warns Lydgate that the other... (full context)
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Bulstrode explains that the old infirmary lies in the parish of Mr. Farebrother, but that he... (full context)
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...people are obviously jealous because Featherstone intends to leave most of his land to Fred. Bulstrode immediately chastises Vincy for spoiling his children, which has given Fred “extravagant idle habits.” Vincy... (full context)
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...borrowing money, a story that is clearly “nonsense,” but that Featherstone wants a note from Bulstrode denying it. However, Bulstrode replies that Fred has been borrowing money and that he therefore... (full context)
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Bulstrode requests that they not fight, for the sake of Mrs. Bulstrode, Vincy’s sister. Vincy agrees,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 14
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The letter from Bulstrode arrives the next day. Fred takes it to Mr. Featherstone, who reads it aloud while... (full context)
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...his uncle that he is grateful. Featherstone muses that he is a better uncle than Bulstrode, and Fred asks if he should destroy Bulstrode’s letter. Featherstone tells him to do it. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 16
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Gossip abounds over whether Mr. Tyke will be appointed chaplain of the hospital. Bulstrode is disliked and distrusted, but many people in Middlemarch think compromising with him is a... (full context)
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...the Vincys’ when the chaplaincy is brought up in discussion. Despite his familial connection to Bulstrode, Mr. Vincy is open about the fact that he does not want Mr. Tyke to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 17
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...his favorite young women. Lydgate admits that he has barely noticed Mary. They then discuss Bulstrode, and Farebrother warns Lydgate that if he votes against Bulstrode, “you will make him your... (full context)
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Farebrother says that he himself is not a fan of Bulstrode’s crowd, who he thinks are a “narrow ignorant set.” At the same time, he thinks... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 18
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...He doesn’t really care either way, and thus should logically vote for Tyke to please Bulstrode. However, he has developed an affection for Farebrother, who he now believes is an upstanding... (full context)
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...doctor is around the same as Dr. Sprague’s; both are “Middlemarch institutions.” Neither particularly likes Bulstrode, although Mrs. Bulstrode is fond of Dr. Minchin as the only person who truly understands... (full context)
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...name of the man they’re voting for into a glass. The group is evenly split; Bulstrode notices that Lydgate has not yet voted, and thus must make the deciding vote. Mr.... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 26
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...a great deal of dramatic gossip in Middlemarch. A rumor even spreads that Lydgate is Bulstrode’s illegitimate son. (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 38
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...about whether Mr. Brooke will run for election; Mr. Cadwallader says there are rumors that Bulstrode is backing this plan. Sir James is concerned that Mr. Brooke is in danger of... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 40
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...discusses the possibility that Rigg is selling some of the land he just inherited to Bulstrode. (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 44
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...work is made more difficult by opposition to reform. A further challenge is added by Bulstrode’s unpopularity, which means that many people oppose anything that is associated with him. Lydgate is... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 45
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...vocal defender of Lydgate but, paradoxically, is also known as “a chief flag of the anti-Bulstrode party.” (full context)
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...oppose Lydgate’s medical work so much as his supposed showiness and “arrogance.” Both he and Bulstrode are accused of being “charlatans.” Meanwhile, Farebrother advises Lydgate to be careful about money.   (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 53
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Bulstrode was annoyed on learning that Farebrother had been given the appointment at Lowick. He bought... (full context)
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...that he came to Stone Court before, when Rigg owned it. He is now seeking Bulstrode’s address, pulling out a crumpled letter from his pocket. Caleb politely says goodbye to Bulstrode... (full context)
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Bulstrode returns to Stone Court at 7.30am the next day. He asks Raffles why he came... (full context)
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Raffles mentions someone named Sarah, who is Bulstrode’s “step-daughter.” He then makes a show of struggling to remember the name of a man... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 60
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...fill it with new things. The auction is treated “as a kind of festival.” Mr. Bulstrode’s health prevents him from attending, but he asks Will to buy a painting that his... (full context)
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...stranger arrives, and members of the crowd wonder who he is. Finally the painting Mrs. Bulstrode wants is brought out and Will is relieved, as he is desperate to go. Will... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 61
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When Mr. Bulstrode gets home that night, Mrs. Bulstrode tells him that a strange man has been at... (full context)
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When Bulstrode saw Raffles at the bank earlier that day, Raffles said he might leave Middlemarch the... (full context)
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Eventually Dunkirk gave Bulstrode the job being of his “confidential accountant.” Dunkirk was a pawnbroker and sold goods without... (full context)
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Bulstrode had hired Raffles to find Sarah and in truth Sarah had been found; however, Bulstrode... (full context)
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Aware that he had sinned, Bulstrode told himself that he was using his money in service of God. He is relieved... (full context)
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Bulstrode says he wants to give Will the inheritance he would have received from his grandmother,... (full context)
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Bulstrode knows he should be honest, but his pride makes him defensive; he tells Will it... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 64
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Rosamond angrily points out that Bulstrode should pay Lydgate for his work at the New Hospital, but Lydgate says he agreed... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 67
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...for financial help twice and been refused. His only remaining option is to go to Bulstrode. Before he can approach Bulstrode, however, he receives a note from him asking to meet... (full context)
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Bulstrode says that in order to relieve some stress, he is planning to step back from... (full context)
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Lydgate suggests that he can go and talk to Dorothea and Bulstrode agrees, although he adds that at the moment she is in Yorkshire with Sir James... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 68
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Bulstrode’s sudden decision to leave Middlemarch was prompted by the return of Raffles on Christmas Eve.... (full context)
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Bulstrode asks Caleb Garth to help him find a tenant for Stone Court, and Caleb suggests... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 69
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Caleb Garth comes to see Bulstrode at the bank and tells him that there is a “very ill” man at Stone... (full context)
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Later, Bulstrode goes to Stone Court, desperately hoping that Raffles’s illness might kill him before he can... (full context)
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Raffles is suffering from alcohol poisoning, and Lydgate imagines that Bulstrode is taking care of him as an act of charity. Lydgate gets home to find... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 70
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Once Lydgate leaves, Bulstrode goes through Raffles’s pockets, where he finds a few bills and pennies. When Raffles wakes... (full context)
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...that Raffles’s condition has deteriorated, but says that he still expects him to pull through. Bulstrode comments that Lydgate himself does not look well, and pleads with him to sit for... (full context)
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That evening, Bulstrode contemplates suicide. Sitting by the fire in his living room, he realizes that he didn’t... (full context)
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In the morning Bulstrode prays for a while. He then goes to see Raffles, who is asleep and seems... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 71
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...he was at the horse fair at Bilkley recently, he learned some gossip about how Bulstrode got his wealth from an old friend of Bulstrode’s called Raffles. Hopkins exclaims that he... (full context)
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...order to determine if Lydgate colluded in his death. The townspeople conclude that even if Bulstrode merely paid Lydgate to remain silent about the truth of his past, this still puts... (full context)
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Bulstrode, still thinking himself safe, has abandoned his plan to leave Middlemarch permanently and instead decides... (full context)
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Overwhelmed by a feeling of absolute horror, Bulstrode is silent, but only for a moment. He then declares that those who accuse him... (full context)
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Lydgate himself now believes that Raffles’s death is suspicious and that the £1000 Bulstrode gave him was a bribe. After the meeting, Mr. Brooke and Farebrother go to see... (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 73
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Lydgate takes Bulstrode home from the meeting, leaving him in the care of Mrs. Bulstrode. Lydgate regrets ever... (full context)
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...the damage done to his reputation is permanent. Despite wishing that he had never accepted Bulstrode’s money, he decides to now stand by Bulstrode. As he nears home, dread builds as... (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 74
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On hearing about the scandal, the women of Middlemarch generally feel sympathy for Mrs. Bulstrode, who is well-liked and thought to be remarkably honest. People are not as sympathetic to... (full context)
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Mrs. Bulstrode, meanwhile, has stayed home since the scandal broke and thus is unaware of what is... (full context)
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It is Mrs. Bulstrode’s brother Mr. Vincy who finally tells her everything. He laments that even if Bulstrode is... (full context)
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Despite her misery and deep disappointment, Mrs. Bulstrode is a loyal person, and knows that she will stand by her husband. Knowing she... (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 76
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Lydgate says that he doesn’t want to “bear hard on Bulstrode,” because despite everything he is still grateful to him for the £1000. Dorothea promises that... (full context)
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...why his instructions for Raffles’s care were not followed (and therefore does not know if Bulstrode is guilty of helping to kill Raffles). Either way, Lydgate is condemned by association—“the business... (full context)
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...selflessness. Back at Lowick, meanwhile, Dorothea writes a note and a check for £1000 to Bulstrode, in order to relieve Lydgate’s debt to him. (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 79
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...and is in bed. Lydgate then explains that Will is implicated in the scandal surrounding Bulstrode. Will makes a dark joke about his own reputation but refrains from mentioning the fact... (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 81
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...Brooke, and Sir James all know and believe the truth about Lydgate’s involvement in the Bulstrode scandal. She then stresses that Lydgate desperately wants to make Rosamond happy and feels wretched... (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 82
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...encounter Dorothea somehow. However, he also came back because he was considering taking the money Bulstrode offered him in order to carry out a new social endeavor in the “Far West.”... (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 83
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...so soon, and he also mentions the rumors about his family history. He explains that Bulstrode offered him money, but that he did not accept it because he was sure Dorothea... (full context)
Book 8, Chapter 85
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Mr. Bulstrode prepares to leave Middlemarch. He has been tormented by the idea that Mrs. Bulstrode might... (full context)
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Mrs. Bulstrode thinks about it and asks if they could help Lydgate and Rosamond, who are also... (full context)