Meanwhile, Mrs. Tulliver goes to visit Mrs. Glegg and ask for her help. Surprisingly, the usually judgmental Mrs. Glegg is very much on Maggie’s side. Having also read the letter that Stephen sent Lucy, she believes that Maggie is innocent and has taken to harshly castigating anyone who speaks ill of her niece. She even confronts Tom, but Tom is too stubborn to revise his prior position. She tells Mrs. Tulliver that Maggie is welcome to come and live with her.
In the wake of Maggie’s disgrace, tolerance and forgiveness come from a very unlikely source: the notoriously judgmental and narrow-minded Mrs. Glegg. Here, however, Mrs. Glegg does not rush to judgment of her niece. Instead, she forgives and fiercely defends her against the rumors in the town. Mrs. Glegg’s loyalty to family is clearly stronger than her belief in town gossip.
Mrs. Tulliver passes on the news to Maggie that Lucy has gone to the seaside for her health, but is feeling much better. Maggie remains very concerned for Philip, until one day she receives a letter from him. Philip writes that he believes her and that he understands she tried to be faithful to him. He apologizes for pressing his romantic feelings on her when he knew that she didn’t feel the same way about him. He ends by offering his forgiveness and continuing love and friendship. Maggie sobs at this kindness.
Philip’s letter brings Maggie great comfort not only because he forgives her. In contrast to the intolerant and blinkered quality of many people in St. Ogg’s, Philip also shows the ability to reflect on his own flaws and imperfections. He thus asks Maggie for forgiveness as well, since he realizes now that he may have pressured her into a romantic relationship with him when he suspected that she was in fact reluctant.