The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss


George Eliot

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Mr. Riley Character Analysis

Mr. Riley is one of Mr. Tulliver’s friends in the neighborhood. Mr. Tulliver considers him very sophisticated and asks him for advice about Tom’s schooling. In reality, however, Mr. Riley is nearly as ignorant as Mr. Tulliver of educational matters and makes a poor recommendation. Mr. Tulliver follows Mr. Riley’s advice, sending Tom to an Oxford-educated minister named Mr. Stelling to be educated in Latin and geometry—subjects that fail to help Tom later in life.

Mr. Riley Quotes in The Mill on the Floss

The The Mill on the Floss quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Riley or refer to Mr. Riley. 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:
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of The Mill on the Floss published in 2015.
Book 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

“I want him to know figures, and write like print, and see into things quick, and know what folks mean, and how to wrap things up in words as aren’t actionable. It’s an uncommon fine thing […] when you can let a man know what you think of him without paying for it.”

Related Characters: Mr. Tulliver (speaker), Tom Tulliver, Mr. Wakem, Mr. Riley
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Riley Character Timeline in The Mill on the Floss

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Riley appears in The Mill on the Floss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 2 
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon’s shoes, and getting up the potatoes.” He decides to talk about Tom’s schooling with Mr. Riley , a local appraiser and auctioneer. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver drinks a brandy with Mr. Riley , a well-educated man who refers to the Tullivers as “people of the old school.”... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver proudly tells Mr. Riley about Maggie’s reading abilities, although he also worries that a woman has “no business wi’... (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mr. Riley suggests that Mr. Tulliver send Tom to study with Stelling, a parson with a Master... (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
The narrator observes that Mr. Riley had no ulterior or malicious motives in recommending Stelling, as he really was attempting to... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...he will find a solution. Still, his finances are in exceedingly poor shape. His friend Mr. Riley died a few years ago without repaying him the two hundred and fifty pounds he... (full context)