The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

by

George Eliot

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Mr. Tulliver Character Analysis

Mr. Tulliver is Mrs. Tulliver’s husband and Tom and Maggie’s father. He is generous, warm-hearted, and kind, particularly to his daughter (unlike other family members, he is very proud of Maggie’s cleverness and encourages her reading). He financially supports his impoverished sister, Mrs. Moss, refusing to call in a loan he gave her for several hundred pounds, even when his own finances are in a disastrous state. However, he is also hot-tempered and stubborn. He feuds with his wife’s family and takes out an unwisely large loan in order to avoid having to borrow money from his sister-in-law Mrs. Glegg, whom he hates. He constantly initiates lawsuits against his neighbors, convinced that they have been trying to steal his land, and he maintains a years-long vendetta against a lawyer, Mr. Wakem, whom he thinks is the cause of all his misfortunes in business. When one of Mr. Tulliver’s frequent lawsuits ends in disaster and bankruptcy, Mr. Wakem buys the mill and makes Mr. Tulliver his employee. This enrages Mr. Tulliver, who makes his son swear on the family Bible that he will take revenge against the Wakems. Mr. Tulliver’s revenge schemes continue until the day he dies, when he beats Mr. Wakem with a horsewhip.

Mr. Tulliver Quotes in The Mill on the Floss

The The Mill on the Floss quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Tulliver or refer to Mr. Tulliver. 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 2  Quotes

“It’s no mischief much while she’s a little un, but an over-‘cute woman’s no better nor a long-tailed sheep—she’ll fetch none the bigger price for that.”

Related Characters: Mr. Tulliver (speaker), Maggie Tulliver
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Book 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

“Poor little wench! She’ll have nobody but Tom, belike, when I’m gone.”

Related Characters: Mr. Tulliver (speaker), Maggie Tulliver, Tom Tulliver, Mrs. Moss, Mr. Moss
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6, Chapter 8 Quotes

“We don't ask what a woman does—we ask whom she belongs to. It's altogether a degrading thing to you to think of marrying old Tulliver’s daughter.”

Related Characters: Mr. Wakem (speaker), Maggie Tulliver, Mr. Tulliver, Philip Wakem
Page Number: 394
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mr. Tulliver Character Timeline in The Mill on the Floss

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Tulliver appears in The Mill on the Floss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1 
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
...it looked on a February day many years ago. The narrator promises to recount what Mr. Tulliver and Mrs. Tulliver had been talking about inside the parlor on that day. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2 
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver tells his wife, Mrs. Tulliver, that he wants their son, Tom, to get a better... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver admits that Tom isn’t the brightest child in the family, although he hopes Tom will... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...for her Aunt Glegg, but Maggie protests that she doesn’t like sewing or her aunt. Mr. Tulliver laughs, although Mrs. Tulliver laments her daughter’s lack of feminine graces. The narrator comments that... (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... (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... (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mr. Riley suggests that Mr. Tulliver send Tom to study with Stelling, a parson with a Master of Arts degree from... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Maggie wants to go with Mr. Tulliver to fetch Tom from school, but Mrs. Tulliver protests that it is too rainy for... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...to the attic, where she thinks of hiding and starving herself. Meanwhile, at tea downstairs, Mr. Tulliver asks Tom where Maggie is and chides him to be good to her. He knows... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...being served too late in the day, which violates typical Dodson practice. And she accuses Mr. Tulliver of wasting all the family money on lawsuits, leaving nothing for Tom and Maggie. (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...since Mrs. Tulliver shrieks, and her aunts and uncles begin criticizing and shouting at her. Mr. Tulliver , however, defends her and “takes her part,” which Maggie finds very comforting. (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver sends the children outside so he can announce his decision regarding Tom’s education to the... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...leaves in a huff, and the other women go outside to see to the children. Mr. Tulliver is pleased to be able to discuss politics with Mr. Deane, whom he greatly admires.... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver arrives at the Moss family farm in Basset, a ramshackle and run-down parish. Mrs. Moss... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver curtly tells Mr. Moss to raise the money. Mr. Tulliver rides away from the farm,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...the same fabric patterns, spots rather that stripes—but that Tom and Maggie are rude, and Mr. Tulliver is squandering the family’s money. Mrs. Tulliver tearfully asks Mrs. Pullet to help end the... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 11
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...Ogg’s on his donkey, and Maggie is terrified for the entire ride until they encounter Mr. Tulliver on the road home. Mr. Tulliver gives the gypsy five shillings for returning his daughter,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...earn and save money. That morning, Mrs. Glegg is still fuming from her quarrel with Mr. Tulliver and accuses Mr. Glegg of siding with the others and against her. Mr. Glegg suggests... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 13
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Just when it seems like the family quarrel has come to an end, Mr. Tulliver sends a letter to Mrs. Glegg telling her that the five hundred pounds will be... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...Stelling’s jokes—like a pun on the Latin word for “roast beef”—which make him feel “silly.” Mr. Tulliver and Mrs. Tulliver were pleased with the Stellings when they brought Tom to King’s Lorton,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 2
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
It is the Christmas holidays, and Mr. Tulliver is increasingly furious at a neighbor, Mr. Pivart, who plans to irrigate his lands further... (full context)
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver tells Mrs. Moss that she has begged Mr. Tulliver not to “go to law” with Mr. Pivart. As this dispute unfolds, the Tullivers learn... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
When Mr. Tulliver comes to collect Maggie and take her to school, she tells him that she loves... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 7
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...appropriate for a young lady to kiss a gentleman, so can’t fulfill her promise. Worse, Mr. Tulliver initiates the lawsuit against Mr. Pivart, who Wakem represents. Mr. Tulliver tells Tom to avoid... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Maggie, now thirteen, comes to visit Tom at Mr. Stelling’s. She tells Tom that Mr. Tulliver has lost the lawsuit with Mr. Pivart and will lose his mill, money, and property.... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
When Mr. Tulliver first learns that he has lost the lawsuit and will have to sell everything, he... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver writes a letter to Maggie at boarding school asking her to come home. He then... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver is only able to recognize Maggie out of all his family members. Mrs. Tulliver’s sisters... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 2
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...Maggie find the bailiff in their house, come to repossess everything they own to pay Mr. Tulliver ’s debts. This is very humiliating for Tom, who begins to blame Mr. Tulliver for... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
The way Tom and Mrs. Tulliver are speaking about Mr. Tulliver angers Maggie, and she runs upstairs to sit at her father’s bedside. Tom comes up... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 3
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...did that, and she worries for her eight children. Mr. Glegg points out that if Mr. Tulliver goes bankrupt, they will be obliged to pay the money anyway. Tom says that he... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 4
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Tom, Maggie, Mr. Glegg, and Mrs. Moss go upstairs to look through Mr. Tulliver ’s chest and try to find the note for the money he loaned to the... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver slips back into his coma, but Tom is now determined upon two courses of action:... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 5
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...use for someone like him to know Latin, Mr. Deane says, so the expensive education Mr. Tulliver paid for was a waste. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 7
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver begins to recover physically, but his financial ruin continues. He must be considered “failed”—meaning that... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...to bid against Guest & Co, he decides to do so in order to humiliate Mr. Tulliver by buying his land and retaining him as a servant. He does this not because... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 8
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver comes downstairs for the first time since his injury. The family isn’t sure how or... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Maggie and Tom tell Mr. Tulliver that he is now a bankrupt, but Tom promises to pay back all his debts... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 9
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Mr. Tulliver decides to work for Mr. Wakem, since he wants to protect and provide for Mrs.... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
When Tom gets home, Mr. Tulliver calls him into the parlor. He explains that although he’s decided to submit to Wakem,... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 2
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...the bankruptcy, life at Dorlcote Mill is miserable. Mrs. Tulliver is bewildered at her misfortune; Mr. Tulliver is sullen and uncommunicative. Tom has little to say to Maggie anymore, since all of... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 2
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...business venture involving shipping goods to foreign ports. Tom is enthusiastic about the idea, but Mr. Tulliver refuses to release the family’s small savings in order to invest in the venture. (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 4
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...as well and would like to make him happy, but will do nothing to distress Mr. Tulliver . Philip agrees not to ask that of her, and says that he is content... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 5
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
...that she swear on the family Bible never to see Philip again—or he will tell Mr. Tulliver everything. Maggie agrees to swear on the Bible. (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 6
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...the family that he has finally earned enough money to pay off the family debts. Mr. Tulliver , Mrs. Tulliver, and Maggie are overwhelmed with joy. Tom explains that Mr. Deane has... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 7
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
After four years of despair, Mr. Tulliver starts to feel more like his old self again. The dinner is a great success,... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
On his way home, Mr. Tulliver encounters Mr. Wakem and proudly tells him that he won’t work for him any longer.... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
After this incident, Mr. Tulliver collapses and falls very ill. Maggie, Tom, and Mrs. Tulliver rush to his bedside. Barely... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 8
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...revenge is a base motive, and that in any case, Maggie is not responsible for Mr. Tulliver or Tom’s behavior. Mr. Wakem retorts that “we don't ask what a woman does—we ask... (full context)