The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

by

George Eliot

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Mill on the Floss can help.

Mrs. Tulliver Character Analysis

Mrs. Tulliver, Mr. Tulliver’s wife and Maggie and Tom’s mother, is described as attractive and good-natured but rather dim-witted. Her most passionate feelings are devoted to her furniture and family linens, which she cherishes, so the family bankruptcy and subsequent sale of her household items is particularly distressing to her. She is intimidated by her stronger-willed and wealthier older sisters, Mrs. Deane, Mrs. Pullet, and Mrs. Glegg, who criticize her for having disobedient and unruly children. Mrs. Tulliver frequently laments that Maggie is not more feminine and graceful, like Mrs. Deane’s daughter, Lucy, and that Maggie has dark hair rather than blonde hair. However, Mrs. Tulliver loves and cares for her children deeply, and in their adulthood she is movingly supportive of her daughter, even when the entire village community rejects Maggie for her failed elopement with Stephen Guest. Even after Tom harshly rejects Maggie for this, Mrs. Tulliver tells her that “you’ve got a mother,” suggesting that the loss of her family property has made her children all the more valuable to her.
Get the entire The Mill on the Floss LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Mill on the Floss PDF

Mrs. Tulliver Character Timeline in The Mill on the Floss

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. 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
...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 education than Mr. Tulliver... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...believes that cleverness won’t help a grown woman when it’s time for her to marry. Mrs. Tulliver complains exasperatedly that her daughter’s ways are very strange and “comical.” For example, the girl... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
When Maggie comes into the parlor, Mrs. Tulliver reproaches her for going to close to the river and taking off her bonnet, messing... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...Oxford, who is willing to take on a pupil for one hundred pounds a year. Mrs. Tulliver worries about Tom growing up in the house of a bachelor, but Mr. Riley assures... (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 a girl to go out in her best... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Maggie and Mrs. Tulliver stand outside to greet Tom on his return from school. Tom tells Maggie that he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver has prepared a delicious puff pastry in preparation for a visit from her sisters, Deane,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...and slightly moldy. She complains that her sisters Deane and Pullet are late, but when Mrs. Tulliver offers her a cheesecake and a glass of wine, Mrs. Glegg sniffs that she never... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver is relieved when Mrs. Pullet arrives, dressed in a comically large silk dress and accompanied... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Mrs. Deane arrives with her daughter, Lucy, and Mrs. Tulliver thinks it’s a shame that her own daughter doesn’t have such pretty blonde curls. Maggie... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver tells Maggie to go upstairs and brush her hair. Maggie goes to the attic with... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Tom persuades Maggie to come down to dinner, but she soon regrets it, since Mrs. Tulliver shrieks, and her aunts and uncles begin criticizing and shouting at her. Mr. Tulliver, however,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver points out that it would be difficult for the family financially if Mrs. Glegg were... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...they dirty her polished stairs and floors), which ruins the children’s fun. Mrs. Pullet takes Mrs. Tulliver , Maggie, and Lucy, into her “best room” to show them her extravagant new bonnet.... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
The adults send the children outside to play, while Mrs. Tulliver talks with the Pullets about the fight with Mrs. Glegg and her family’s financial situation.... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...very naughty and will come to a bad end. Felling like a “truly wretched mother,” Mrs. Tulliver goes outside to find her children, and Tom informs her that Maggie is missing. After... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 1
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...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, but it soon... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 2
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver tells Mrs. Moss that she has begged Mr. Tulliver not to “go to law” with... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 1
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...Mr. Tulliver once scorned the idea of asking the Dodsons for anything, he now thinks Mrs. Tulliver should go to her wealthy sister Mrs. Pullet to ask for a loan. The narrator... (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 take this misfortune as a judgment on the family, since they have always... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 2
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...very humiliating for Tom, who begins to blame Mr. Tulliver for their misfortune. They find Mrs. Tulliver crying in the basement as she looks at all her “precious things,” such as her... (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... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 3
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...to consult about the family. Mrs. Pullet and Mrs. Deane promise to buy some of Mrs. Tulliver ’s linen and china in order to keep it in the family, but Mrs. Glegg... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver continues to beg her sisters to buy her monogrammed china, since she hates the idea... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 4
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...to Luke—and not to call in the money from his sister, and he apologizes to Mrs. Tulliver for leaving her poorly off. He also asks Tom to punish Wakem for what he’s... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 7
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver decides to go visit Wakem to try to persuade him not to bid for Dorlcote... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 8
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...a good arrangement, as it will allow Mr. Tulliver to support the family again, but Mrs. Tulliver despairs of ever overcoming her husband’s stubbornness and hatred of Wakem. As he talks with... (full context)
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
...see it, although he hopes that at least he’s given his soon “a good eddication.” Mrs. Tulliver then breaks the news that Wakem has bought the mill and land, and Mr. Tulliver... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 9
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
...Tulliver decides to work for Mr. Wakem, since he wants to protect and provide for Mrs. Tulliver . Also, he is very attached to Dorlcote Mill, which is the only home he’s... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 2
Knowledge and Ignorance Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
After 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... (full context)
Book 4, Chapter 3
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...family, doing household chores, and taking in sewing to earn extra money for the family. Mrs. Tulliver is amazed that her daughter is “growing up so good,” but Mr. Tulliver continues to... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 6
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...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 organized a... (full context)
Book 5, Chapter 7
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...falls off his horse, and Mr. Tulliver begins flogging him brutally. He only stops when Mrs. Tulliver and Maggie run out of the house and pull him off Mr. Wakem. (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 able to speak, Mr. Tulliver tells Tom to “get the... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 1
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...trick on him: she tells him that Maggie has blonde hair and blue eyes, like Mrs. Tulliver . They would like to invite Philip Wakem as well to join the family party,... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 2
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...horrified by Maggie’s shabby clothes and gives her one of her old dresses to wear.  Mrs. Tulliver and Mrs. Pullet admire how beautiful Maggie has become, although they still lament her “brown... (full context)
Book 6, Chapter 12
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 1
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Watching from the doorway, Mrs. Tulliver   exclaims, “you’ve got a mother!” and packs her things to leave Dorlcote Mill with... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 3
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Mrs. Tulliver goes to visit Mrs. Glegg and ask for her help. Surprisingly, the usually judgmental Mrs.... (full context)
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
Mrs. Tulliver passes on the news to Maggie that Lucy has gone to the seaside for her... (full context)
Book 7, Chapter 5
Memory and Childhood Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Pressures Theme Icon
Tolerance and Forgiveness  Theme Icon
...first story. She shouts for Tom, whose head appears at the window. Tom explains that Mrs. Tulliver is safe at her sister’s house. Maggie pulls Tom into the boat, and he is... (full context)