Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Maggie Tulliver, the impetuous and generous young heroine. Regarded as wild and gypsy-like by most of her respectable relatives, the sensitive and imaginative Maggie does not fit into the provincial society in and near St. Ogg’s on the River Floss. She worships her brother Tom, who judges her harshly and thinks her unreliable. She loves Philip Wakem, the crippled son of her father’s worst enemy, but must promise never to see him. Despite her feeling for Philip and her love for her cousin, Lucy Deane, Maggie is strongly attracted to her cousin’s fiancé, Stephen Guest. Stephen persuades her to go boating, but they neglect their destination and are forced to spend the night on a freighter that rescues them. Almost everyone in St. Ogg’s, her brother included, thinks Maggie responsible and regards her as an evil and designing woman. In the final scene, during a flood, Maggie takes a boat to rescue Tom, who is at the family mill. The two are reconciled before the raging river drowns them.
Tom Tulliver, Maggie’s brother. Although never quick at school, Tom assumes financial responsibility for the family when he is only sixteen, after the father has lost his mill and home through a series of lawsuits. Tom pledges to follow his father in having nothing to do with the Wakem family. He works hard and, through his industry and careful investments in partnership with Bob Jakin, pays off his father’s debts and eventually gets the mill back. Somewhat priggish, Tom judges others severely, but he is also generous to his mother and sister.
Edward Tulliver, the father of Maggie and Tom and the owner of Dorlcote Mill, near St. Ogg’s on the River Floss. An emotional and hot-tempered man, Tulliver engages in several lawsuits that, in combination with other financial reverses, cause him to lose his mill. Tulliver must swallow his pride and work in the mill as the hated Wakem’s manager. When Tom finally earns the money to pay off his father’s debts, Tulliver meets Wakem and thrashes him. The exertion produces Tulliver’s second stroke, and he dies. He is always partial to his clever and imaginative daughter Maggie.
Mrs. Elizabeth Tulliver (Bessy)
Mrs. Elizabeth Tulliver (Bessy), Edward’s wife, proud of her birth as a Dodson and grieved that her husband’s temper and improvidence cause her to lose her home and furnishings. She is dependent on the advice and opinions of her more prosperous sisters. Her pleading visit to Wakem inadvertently causes him to plan to buy the mill when Tulliver is bankrupt. Regarding Maggie as wild and unladylike, she is partial...
(The entire section is 1105 words.)
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