There is a family gathering at Mrs. Pullet’s house, in light of the good news that Mr. Wakem is willing to sell Dorlcote Mill back to Guest & Co. Mrs. Pullet and Lucy begin consulting about which linens they will give Mrs. Tulliver, who is also returning to the mill to keep house for Tom. Mrs. Glegg and Mrs. Pullet very much disapprove of Maggie “going into service” and working as a teacher, when she could remain at home with her family and make a good marriage.
The Dodson sisters associate an upswing in the fortunes of the Tullivers with a corresponding restriction in Maggie’s freedom. They think a woman should direct her primary energies towards making a good marriage, and they disapprove of her teaching job. This suggests that they believe paid work lowers a woman's value as a marital prospect.
Lucy finds a way to have a private conversation with Tom. She tells him that Philip loves Maggie, hoping that Tom will be softened by the return of Dorlcote Mill. Tom, however, is immovable and maintains that he will never consent to any relationship with the Wakems.
Tom finds no way to forgive the Wakems no matter how much the Tulliver fortunes recover. This suggests that grudge-holding is a product of a mental and emotional block, not necessarily material circumstances.