Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Dorlcote Mill stands on the banks of the River Floss near the village of St. Ogg’s. Owned by the ambitious Mr. Tulliver, the mill provides a good living for the Tulliver family, but Mr. Tulliver dreams of the day when his son Tom will achieve a higher station in life. Mrs. Tulliver’s sisters, who had married well, criticize Mr. Tulliver’s unseemly ambition and openly predict the day when his air castles will bring himself and his family to ruin. Aunt Glegg is the richest of the sisters and holds a note on his property. After he quarrels with her over his plans for Tom’s education, Mr. Tulliver determines to borrow the money and repay her.
Tom has inherited the placid arrogance of his mother’s relatives; for him, life is not difficult. He is resolved to be fair in all of his dealings and to deliver punishment to whomever deserves it. His sister Maggie grows up with an imagination that surpasses her understanding. Her aunts predict she will come to a bad end because she is tomboyish, dark-skinned, dreamy, and indifferent to their commands. Frightened by her lack of success in attempting to please her brother Tom, her cousin Lucy, and her mother and aunts, Maggie runs away, determined to live with the gypsies, but she is glad enough to return. Her father scolds her mother and Tom for abusing her. Her mother is sure Maggie will come to a bad end because of the way Mr. Tulliver humors her.
Tom’s troubles begin when his father sends him...
(The entire section is 1396 words.)
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Book 1 Summary
Book 1: Boy and Girl
The novel begins with a description of the rural area where the action takes place, near the town of St. Ogg's and the River Floss. The narrator reminisces about a February many years ago and begins to tell the story of the Tulliver family.
Mr. Tulliver, who is the fifth generation in his family to own and run Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss, tells his wife that he will send his son Tom to a school where Tom can learn to be an "engineer, or a surveyor, or an auctioneer…or one of them smartish businesses as are all profit and no outlay." His wife advises him to ask her wealthier sisters and their husbands for their opinion, but Tulliver says he will do whatever he wants. However, he does decide to ask Mr. Riley, an auctioneer, who is somewhat educated, for his opinion. The two parents discuss their other child, Maggie, who takes after her father. She is as dark as Tom is fair and is clever but headstrong, uninterested in her appearance and in social niceties. True to her nature, Maggie comes to tea late with her hair mussed up, and when her mother urges her to do patchwork, she refuses. Her mother is bothered by the fact that Maggie is nothing like her and by the fact that she is much smarter than a woman "should" be.
Riley visits Tulliver, who says that he wants Tom to have an education but that it should be in a different field from his own, as he does not want Tom to grow up and take the mill away from...
(The entire section is 1604 words.)
Book 2 Summary
Book 2: School-Time
Tom turns out to be the only pupil of Reverend Stelling, and he is bored without friends. In addition, he is not very bright, so studying Latin and geometry is torture to him. Stelling turns out to be an ambitious man who spends far more than he makes, and he is unable to adapt his teaching to Tom's abilities; Tom is good at business and has common sense. Bored, Tom plays with Stelling's baby daughter and starts to miss Maggie's company.
Maggie visits, and she is very interested in his studies; she shows that she can pick up the topics much more quickly than he can, even though she is a girl. She stays there two weeks and learns Latin and geometry, largely on her own. Despite this, when she asks Stelling if she can study as Tom does, Stelling and Tom both tell her women are too stupid to "go far into anything."
Tom goes home for Christmas, but life at home is unpleasant. His father, who likes to argue and sue people, has a new feud going with Pivart: a new neighbor who lives upstream from the mill wants to use water from the Floss to irrigate his fields. Tulliver feels this is an infringement on his own water rights, and he is sure that Lawyer Wakem is behind it. Meanwhile, Wakem is planning to send his son Philip to Stelling. Even though Tulliver hates Wakem, he is secretly pleased about his son having the same education as Wakem's.
Tom meets Philip Wakem. Philip is deformed as the result of a...
(The entire section is 634 words.)
Book 3 Summary
Book 3: The Downfall
Tulliver looks for someone who will buy the mill and let him run it. He is also troubled because he has already scheduled a sale of his household goods in order to raise the money to pay back Mrs. Glegg's five hundred pounds. He decides to send Mrs. Tulliver to the Pullets to ask them to lend him five hundred pounds.
When Mrs. Tulliver asks her sisters for help, they see Tulliver's failure as a sort of divine judgment against him, and they refuse to help. Tom decides the whole thing is Lawyer Wakem's fault and decides that someday he will make Wakem pay for it.
Tom and Maggie get home and find the bailiff waiting in the parlor. He has come to sell all their things. Mrs. Tulliver is upset over the impending loss of her belongings. Her sisters are coming to buy a few things but only the ones they want for themselves; otherwise they will not help. Tom says he will get a job and help the family. Maggie is appalled by her mother's emphasis on things and her lack of caring about Tulliver, who is still out of his mind, and she goes to take care of him.
The following day, all the aunts and uncles gather to decide what must be done. They have no sympathy for Mrs. Tulliver's now-destitute state or her desire to keep some of her old things, and they tell her she must make do with a few meager necessities. Tom tells them that if they were planning to leave money to him and Maggie, they could simply give it out...
(The entire section is 819 words.)
Book 4 Summary
Book 4: The Valley of Humiliation
The narrator discusses the Dodson family and their idea of religion, calling it "simple, semi-pagan," and noting that they worship "whatever is customary and respectable." They are egotistical people who serve their own interests. The Tullivers are similar but have a little more impetuosity and warmth.
Tom is fully employed at the warehouse, but Maggie, at thirteen, is bored, with nothing to do. She is full of energy and drive, qualities considered deplorable in a girl, but the same qualities make young Tom "manly" despite his emotional immaturity.
Bob Jakin drops by one day. He is a traveling salesman, or packman, and he drops off some books he bought as a gift for Maggie. One is a religious book by Thomas à Kempis, which advocates renunciation and asceticism, and this grabs her imagination. She tries to lead an ascetic, spiritual life.
(The entire section is 145 words.)
Book 5 Summary
Book 5: Wheat and Tares
Philip Wakem comes to the mill with his father one day. Although Maggie is home, she does not want to see him with his father there, because she cannot be friendly to him in front of his father. She is now seventeen and is stately and very beautiful. On a walk to the woods near her house, she meets Philip, who has been waiting for her. They agree to meet there periodically. He is in love with her, but as yet she does not think of him that way.
Meanwhile, Tom has done well in his work. He gives all his money to his father, saving up to buy back the mill someday. Bob Jakin tells Tom that he can make much more money if he invests in some goods, which Jakin will give to a sailor friend of his to sell on his voyages. Tulliver is unwilling to give up any money, so Tom borrows fifty pounds from Mr. Glegg to invest in the venture. Mrs. Glegg, who has fallen for Bob Jakin's sales talk, also lends him twenty pounds of her own. By the time Maggie meets Philip, Tom has made 150 pounds and plans to pay off the entire mill debt by the end of the following year.
Maggie and Philip meet some more. He draws her and plays music for her, both of which arouse her love of art and beauty. They agree to keep meeting, even though their families would be against it. Philip is deeply in love with Maggie, even though he knows she feels sorry for him because of his deformity.
A year later, they are still meeting secretly....
(The entire section is 575 words.)
Book 6 Summary
Book 6: The Great Temptation
Stephen Guest, son of the main partner of Guest and Company, is courting Maggie's cousin Lucy Deane. He is good-looking and a smooth talker, and he is marrying Lucy largely because she fits a description of the perfect wife: good-looking, but not too much; thoughtful of other women, but not too much; gentle and "not stupid." When Maggie visits, he is fascinated with her dark beauty and intelligence. He is attracted to her but acknowledges that she is not the sort of woman he would want to marry.
That night, Maggie cannot sleep, because she keeps thinking of how well Stephen can play music and sing and remembering the passionate way he looked at her. When Lucy asks what Maggie thinks of Stephen, however, Maggie says she thinks he is too self-confident. Lucy says that Philip is going to visit the next day, but Maggie says she cannot see him without her brother's permission. Lucy asks why not, and Maggie tells the whole story of her past connection with Philip. Lucy finds this very romantic and decides that she will find a way to bring them together again.
Maggie goes to visit Tom, who is living at Bob Jakin's house. He agrees to release her from her promise not to see Philip but says she will have to live without a brother if she sees him. Maggie says that she does not want to lose her brother, so she will not love Philip but will only be a friend to him. Tom finally agrees that she can see him....
(The entire section is 1538 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 1 Summary
George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860) focuses most significantly on the maturing of a young girl who is too strong willed for her times. The novel's protagonist, Maggie Tulliver, is described by the London Guardian's critic Kathryn Hughes as a combination of Anne of Anne of Green Gables and Jane of Jane Eyre. The third published work of the author, the novel has been identified as a semi-autobiographical story, one that reflects Maggie's often strained relationship with her brother, Tom. Though it has been documented that Eliot cried as she wrote the last chapters of this story, Hughes also finds many comical moments in the novel, which together make The Mill on the Floss "as good as anything Dickens ever did."
The first chapter of Book One sets the scene of the central landscape of the story. Though readers are not told who the narrator is, they are informed that the narrative is a reminiscence of a childhood memory. The mill, called Doricote Mill, is set by the fictional Floss River. Along the river pass large boats on their way to the (also fictional) town of St. Ogg's. The setting is assumed to be somewhere in England. It is February, and the narrator comments not only on the details of nature but also on some anonymous people she sees. One such person is a man passing by in a horse-drawn wagon. It is late in the afternoon, and the man is not yet home. The narrator suggests that the man imagines his dinner waiting for him. The food is getting cold and dry, but before he can eat, he will have to first unharness his horses and bed them down for the night.
Standing on a bridge near the mill, the narrator is most transfixed by the river. There is a storm threatening in the distance with heavy clouds and the sound of thunder. Next to the mill is a small house, which the narrator remembers as being often cold and damp. However, it is the dampness that makes the narrator love the surroundings. The ducks in the river are lucky, the narrator believes, because they live upon the water. The rush of the water softens the sounds around the narrator, providing an essence of peace.
Then the sounds of the mill catch the narrator's ear; the mill wheel is turned constantly by the flow of the river. "Diamond jets of water" spurt out from between the paddles of the wooden wheel. The narrator spots a young girl, who is also watching the mill wheel. She is standing at the...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 2 Summary
Maggie's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver, are having a conversation inside the family home. Mr. Tulliver is discussing his plans for his son, Tom. Mr. Tulliver wants to ensure that Tom receives a good education, one that will provide Tom with a financially secure position when the boy is grown. In order for Tom to gain this education, Mr. Tulliver will have to send him away to school, specifically to the school at Midsummer. Tom will be gone only for two years. That will do him well enough, Mr. Tulliver says. That is far more schooling than Mr. Tulliver ever received from his father.
Mr. Tulliver's goal is to give Tom enough schooling so that Tom can handle all the lawsuits against the family business. Though Mr. Tulliver is skeptical of lawyers and does not want to encourage his son to follow their profession, he would like for Tom to at least understand the law so that he might help his father protect the family property.
Upon hearing her husband's thoughts about Tom's future, Mrs. Tulliver suggests that she invite her sisters (Glegg and Pullet) and the sisters' families to dinner the following week. Mr. Tulliver replies that his wife can invite whomever she wants to dinner, but he is not going to have her sisters tell him what to do with his son.
The topic changes to that of a legal fight in which Mr. Tulliver is engaged. He has a meeting that day with Mr. Riley, a local arbitrator who settles such matters. However, in the middle of his thoughts, Mr. Tulliver thinks of his daughter, Maggie. She takes after his side of the family, Mr. Tulliver believes, and that is a problem. She is too cute, Mr. Tulliver states. This cuteness, Mrs. Tulliver adds, tends to get the child into trouble. Mrs. Tulliver also claims that her daughter is "half an idiot" because the child is forgetful. All Maggie wants to do, according to her mother, is sit around and sing and daydream. The child's hair is unmanageable, too, which causes her mother dismay. Maggie is very different from her cousin Lucy, who is neat and likes to wear fancy dresses and curl her hair. If Maggie's hair is so unruly, Mr. Tulliver says, cut it off. Mrs. Tulliver will not think of this.
Maggie enters the house, her hair all tousled. When her mother tells her to busy herself with her sewing, Maggie protests. She sees no sense in doing patchwork (like making a quilt), especially as a gift for her Aunt Glegg, whom she does not like. After making this...
(The entire section is 474 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 3 Summary
Mr. Riley visits at the mill with Mr. Tulliver to discuss the height of the dam that Tulliver has recently raised to improve the workings of his mill. The mill is one reason why Mr. Riley is there, but Mr. Tulliver has something else on his mind—the education of his son Tom. After Riley points out that a miller does not require an education, Tulliver confesses that he has a special reason for wanting extra schooling for Tom. He does not want Tom to be a miller, or at least not to take over the mill until Tulliver is dead. Tulliver expresses some concern that if Tom is not educated, he might push his father out of the family business by wanting to make a living through the mill. If, on the other hand, Tom learns a different type of business, then the two of them can live from separate incomes.
Upon hearing this discussion, Maggie runs over to her father, upset at what she has just heard. She claims that her brother would never be so mean as to take the business away from her father. Rather than scolding his daughter for speaking so boldly, as Mrs. Tulliver might have criticized her, Maggie's father praises the young girl. He tells Riley how smart Maggie is and how she is always reading. Then he amends his statements, telling Riley that it is not good for a girl to be so clever; it will do nothing but bring her trouble. When Maggie leaves the room, though, Tulliver tells his friend that if Maggie had been born a boy, she would have been the perfect child to train as a lawyer. In comparison, Tulliver says, Tom has good common sense, but he has a lot of trouble with book learning. He is shy and does not do well with reading or writing.
When it is Mr. Riley's turn to talk about Tom's education, he suggests that Tulliver send the boy to Reverend Stelling, an Oxford-educated man who tutors one or two students a year. Stelling has a good reputation for being kind, as well as for providing a stimulating environment for the minds of young boys. Mrs. Tulliver and Maggie question the distance between Stelling's place and their home, not wanting for Tom to be so far away that they could not be with him in a day. Riley eases their minds by telling them that Stelling lives only fifteen or so miles away. Tom would not, however, have to come home each night, as Stelling would keep the boy as a guest in his house.
(The entire section is 435 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 4 Summary
Tom is due to arrive home from his regular school, the "academy," where he learns basic skills in reading and writing; the school is quite different from the more advanced one he will soon be attending. Maggie is disappointed that her mother did not allow her to go with Mr. Tulliver to get Tom. In rebellion against her mother's ruling, Maggie is acting defiantly, refusing to sit still while her mother curls her hair. Even more defiantly, Maggie runs away from her mother and pours water over her head to make sure that every curl her mother had tried to set in her hair is obliterated. Mrs. Tulliver, frustrated by her daughter's disobedience, says she will tell Maggie's aunts about her behavior, and they will not love her any more.
When Maggie is disturbed, she can run to a special hiding place, if the day is not too cold. It is in the attic space under the old high-pitched roof. Very upset, Maggie goes to her retreat. In this room, she is free to release all her frustration and anger. She even has a special doll upon which she plays out her most extreme emotional reactions. Maggie punishes the doll for every misfortune she experiences. Often the doll represents her Aunt Glegg. Currently three nails have been hammered into the doll's head. Believing that the doll already has as many nails as it can take, Maggie smacks the doll's head against the wall. After she is finished, Maggie notices that the sun has come out. She runs to a window, forgetting the grievance that had caused her ill feelings. She throws the doll to the floor, stops crying, and decides to join her pet dog, as the outside world has become irresistible.
Once she reaches the fields, Maggie begins to dance. Luke, the man who works in the mill, sees Maggie and suggests that she stop turning in circles before she becomes too dizzy. Maggie assures Luke that she is fine. Then she attempts to interest Luke in reading a book. She discovers that the only book Luke has ever read is the Bible. She tells him there are many books with more interesting stories. She mentions a book about Holland and another about creatures in the wild. Luke, however, tells her that he needs no knowledge of things that do not relate to his work and his life. At this, Maggie tells Luke that he reminds her of her brother Tom. Tom does not like to read, Maggie says. She confesses that she loves Tom very much, and when they both grow up, she will keep house for Tom and teach him the things...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 5 Summary
Tom has come home, and Maggie can barely control her excitement. She runs to the carriage, and when Tom gets out, she throws herself upon him. Somewhat embarrassed, Tom attempts to break her grasp by putting his hands into his pockets and retrieving, but not revealing, a surprise he has brought home for her. He asks Maggie to guess what it is. Maggie can imagine only marbles, but Tom tells her that he has given away all his marbles to the younger students. What he has for her is better, he says. Finally, because Maggie has no more guesses, Tom reveals that he has bought her a fishing line. They will go fishing tomorrow, and she will have her own line and hook. She also will be able to place a worm on her hook all by herself. He tells her how much he had to sacrifice to save enough money to buy the present. In addition, Tom says, his buying the fishing line caused an argument among his friends, which forced him to fight one of the boys.
Then Tom suggests that they go see his rabbits. At the mention of Tom's pets, Maggie asks how much they cost him. When Tom tells her, Maggie responds that she has that much money. Not understanding why she tells him this, Tom says he has more money than she has, as boys always receive more money than girls, so he does not need her money. Maggie then blurts out that Tom's rabbits are dead.
Upon hearing the news, Tom loses his temper. He will no longer take Maggie fishing with him, he tells her. He also no longer loves her. Maggie begs for forgiveness, telling her brother that if he had wronged her, she would forgive him. This has little effect on Tom; he tells Maggie that she would do that only because she is silly. He, on the other hand, will neither forget what she has done nor ever forgive her. To emphasize his anger, Tom reminds his sister of all the times she has been careless and caused something of his to be broken or lost. He then says she is bad. Maggie runs to her attic room. As she pounds her doll's head against the floor, she cries out that her brother is too cruel. Maggie decides to stay in the attic room until someone comes to find her. She needs a sign that someone in her family loves her.
It takes hours for anyone to miss Maggie. When Tom comes home for dinner and Maggie is not with him, his parents insist that Tom find his sister. Tom knows Maggie's hiding spot and takes her some cake to tease her out.
The next morning the fight is forgotten, and the...
(The entire section is 589 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 6 Summary
Maggie's aunts are due to visit as it is Easter week, and they have been invited to dinner. Mr. Tulliver is not looking forward to the visit much more than his children are. Mrs. Tulliver is more tolerant of her sisters because she hopes that her children will be remembered when her sisters write their wills. It is obvious that Mrs. Tulliver's sisters have more money than she does. With this in mind, Mrs. Tulliver is worried about the way her children will act when the aunts arrive. She tells Mr. Tulliver that Maggie always acts ten times more mischievously in the presence of Glegg and Pullet. Even Tom does not like his mother's sisters, but Mrs. Tulliver is more forgiving of her son, since it is more befitting for a boy to feel this way. As usual, Mrs. Tulliver also compares Maggie to Maggie's cousin Lucy, who, in Mrs. Tulliver's opinion, is such a good girl. Mrs. Tulliver loves Lucy as if she were her own daughter.
Mrs. Tulliver and her sisters are members of the Dodson family, known for their frankness, especially in criticizing one another about family faults. The sisters believe Dodson traditions should always be followed, including how houses should be managed and how linens and clothing should be washed. The Dodson way was the only way, they believe, because it is the better way.
Tom has the habit of running away before his aunts' visits. Knowing this, Maggie asks her brother if she can run away with him. Tom tells her that this time he is not going to hide; his mother has fixed his favorite pudding, and he wants to make sure he receives his share. At the mention of food, Tom shows Maggie a pastry he has taken from the kitchen. He then produces a pocket knife and cuts the dessert in two. The pieces are the same size, but he notices that one piece has all the jam, leaving the other without.
Maggie also sees this disparity, so when Tom tells her to shut her eyes and choose either his right hand or his left to decide which pastry she will get, Maggie sneaks a peak so that she can determine in which hand he holds the pastry without the jam. Tom catches her and says she is cheating. Maggie claims that she wants Tom to have the better half. Tom does not listen to her pleas and demands she make a blind choice.
With luck, Maggie picks the better half of the pastry. Though she feels guilty for having won it, Tom insists that she eat it. However, when Maggie has consumed the last bite, Tom...
(The entire section is 521 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 7 Summary
The day finally arrives for the aunts' visit. Aunt Glegg has taken a seat in the most comfortable chair and holds her gold watch in her hand. She complains about the time Mrs. Tulliver has scheduled dinner and about the lateness of the arrival of their sister, Aunt Pullet. Glegg finds it disgraceful that both sisters have caused her to sit and wait. This is not the way of the Dodsons, at least not in their father's tradition, she says. She also tells Mrs. Tulliver to move the time of the dinner forward as a way to punish their sisters who are late. When Mrs. Tulliver mentions that her husband does not like to eat so early, Glegg calls Mrs. Tulliver weak for allowing her husband to dictate when meals should be served. She also complains that Mrs. Tulliver has spent too much to feed them fancy foods. If her sister continues to overspend the little money she has, Glegg says, no one will be able to save her when her finances fail. Glegg does not have enough money to share, she tells Mrs. Tulliver, and her husband is not willing to share his money with anyone but his own kin.
When Aunt Pullet arrives, she is crying. It is not until she enters the Tulliver house that she tells her sisters the reason for her tears. A woman has died, she tells them, a woman of no relation to them and only a distant acquaintance, but nonetheless a woman who has suffered. Aunt Glegg finds Aunt Pullet's tears excessive. Never in their family did a member care about someone to this extent who was not a relative. Aunt Pullet's tears do not dry up after she has been criticized. She turns the subject to all the money this woman had saved through the years and how, upon her death, she had no one but her husband's kin to leave it to. This is considered a waste, as far as Aunt Pullet is concerned.
Aunt Deane is the last to arrive. She is the mother of Lucy, who enters the Tulliver house with her blonde curls all neatly arranged. As Lucy stands next to Maggie, Mrs. Tulliver is embarrassed. Lucy should have been her child, Mrs. Tulliver thinks, with her light complexion and her submissive nature. The aunts also look at the children and loudly critique their behavior and appearance. Tom is told to hold his head higher. Maggie is told to push her hair behind her ears. Then Aunt Pullet suggests that someone should trim Maggie's hair. If this were done, Maggie would look much healthier.
Maggie excuses herself and takes Tom with her. On the way...
(The entire section is 639 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 8 Summary
After her sisters leave, Mrs. Tulliver reminds her husband that her sister Glegg could call in the loan she has made to him. Mr. Tulliver was rather sharp with Glegg during her visit. His wife's statement infuriates Mr. Tulliver, who tells her that he has decided to pay her sister back whether or not she asks. He is determined not be beholden to her for anything. The next day, Mr. Tulliver gets on his horse and rides to his sister's house. He had loaned her some money in the past, and he is going to see when she can pay it back.
Mr. Tulliver is basically a soft-hearted man who freely gives his money to people in need, especially to his sister. He had given her one thousand pounds when she married, which in the end he realized might have been foolish. It was not a very good investment and did not seem to do his sister any good. His sister did not make her situation any better with the money, as she continued to have babies, eight in all. She could ill-afford even one. Her husband was not good at any kind of business, and for all the times Mr. Tulliver had helped him, his brother-in-law sank deeper into debt.
When Mr. Tulliver reaches his sister's house, he finds Gritty standing in the yard with four of her daughters. Upon seeing her brother, Gritty Moss welcomes him, then chides him for not visiting more often. She tells him he should come with Tom and Maggie some day. She especially likes Maggie and says so. This warms Mr. Tulliver's heart because as often as not, he is the only one who finds anything for which to praise Maggie. Gritty likes Maggie for her sweet personality and her cleverness. She thinks that one of her daughters, Lizzy, is very much like Maggie, but Mr. Tulliver does not see the similarity. Nonetheless, he tells his sister that both Lizzy and Maggie look like they favor the Tulliver family.
Gritty talks about her children, specifically in relation to her having a son for every one of her daughters. The girls and boys are very close to one another, and she hopes they will remain close throughout their lives, with the boys looking after their sisters. This tugs on Mr. Tulliver's heart. He thinks about his relationship with Gritty and wonders if Tom will ever be harsh with Maggie and refuse to take care of her one day.
When Tulliver meets with his brother-in-law, he tells him that he needs three hundred pounds right away. He explains his needs and criticizes his brother-in-law for...
(The entire section is 539 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 9 Summary
Lucy has spent the night at Maggie's house, and Maggie's mother has constantly used the young girl as an example of what she wishes Maggie would aspire to be. All her mother's efforts have little effect on Maggie. When her mother insists that Maggie have her hair cut by a professional hairstylist to repair the damage that Maggie caused, Maggie rebels, promising herself that once she is old enough, she will never allow anyone to cut her hair. When told to dress more appropriately, as Lucy is dressed, Maggie feels too tightly bound in her clothes and constantly fidgets with her garments. Lucy stands out in stark contrast. She is dressed as beautifully as she had been the day before. She never has accidents that soil her clothes, and she is never uncomfortable in them.
As they are dressed, it is more appropriate that they stay inside rather than roam through the fields around their home. So in the parlor, Tom, Maggie, and Lucy challenge one another in building structures made of cards. Tom says that girls are not good at building, but then he is surprised at Lucy's construction. Maggie's houses always fall apart as she attempts to place roofs on top. Tom says Maggie cannot build because she is "stupid." This hurts Maggie's feelings, and when she stands up to get away from him, she accidentally bumps into Tom's carefully built pyramid. Tom becomes angry at Maggie, telling her that he likes Lucy better than he likes her. Later when the three children go for a walk, Tom does little favors for Lucy while ignoring his sister. Lucy encourages Tom to share with Maggie, but Tom will not hear of it.
In the afternoon, the Tulliver family, accompanied by Lucy, travel by buggy to Garum Firs, the home of Mrs. Tulliver's sister, Aunt Pullet. The Pullets live on a large estate, which is referred to as a gentleman's farm. Mr. Pullet runs the farm more as an investor than as a working farmer. Mrs. Pullet has little to do with the outdoors; she spends most of her time running the house, making sure that every surface, floor to shelf, is free of fingerprints and any specks of dirt. She is very uncomfortable with the children inside the house, and after Maggie drops a piece of cake on the floor, Mrs. Pullet makes the three young ones go outside. Before they leave, however, she tells them all the rules, which include not straying off the paved paths in the gardens.
When Mrs. Tulliver finds an opportunity to be alone with her sister,...
(The entire section is 540 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 10 Summary
As Maggie, Tom, and Lucy go out to play at the Pullet's farm, Tom continues to ignore his sister. When he finds a toad, Tom calls Lucy to come see it. Lucy enjoys the attention she is receiving from Tom; however, she knows that if Maggie had been called over, she would have named the toad and provided an interesting history of the amphibian. Lucy calls to Maggie, but she turns away. As long as Tom prefers Lucy, Maggie sees Lucy as an associate of Tom's cruelty. Maggie also thinks that if Lucy had not been present, her brother would have made amends with her by now.
When Tom mentions that he wants to go to the pond, Lucy is enticed to accompany him, even though their aunt has told them not to wander beyond the garden. Lucy never disobeys, but the thrill of rebelling against Aunt Pullet's rule is too difficult to resist. Maggie, though not invited, follows them. When she tries to join them at the edge of the pond, Tom tells Maggie to go away, as there is not enough room for three. In reaction, Maggie pushes hard against Lucy, who falls forward into the mud.
After Tom escorts Lucy back to the house, he tells one of the servants helping Lucy clean up that it was Maggie who caused the mess. Tom demands that the servant inform Mrs. Tulliver of the matter. Upon hearing what has happened, Aunt Pullet is quick to demean Mrs. Tulliver's children once again. Pullet tells her sister that there is no telling what her children are capable of doing or what trouble they will get into next. Mrs. Tulliver worries that her sister thinks ill of her, that she is so wicked she is being punished for having such troublesome children. She wanders outside to find her son and daughter. When she sees Tom and asks where Maggie is, the boy tells her that he does not know. He left her at the side of the pond. Mrs. Tulliver sends Tom to find Maggie; he goes, though reluctantly. The thought of Maggie's sitting by the pond sends chills through Mrs. Tulliver. She has a recurring premonition that both her children will one day drown.
Mrs. Tulliver remains outside, waiting for Tom's return. When she sees him coming back alone, her fears for the safety of her daughter intensify. A concentrated search for Maggie is carried out. Mr. Pullet searches the farmyard, thinking Maggie might be hiding in one...
(The entire section is 522 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 11 Summary
Maggie has given up hope of living happily with her family. Instead of walking toward home, she chooses the opposite direction. Her goal is to find a band of gypsies and run away with them. If she does, her brother will never see her again, which would serve him right for all the cruelties he has laid on her in recent weeks. Living with the gypsies is not a new concept for Maggie. She has been teased most of her life about looking and acting like a gypsy, so why not join them. Among them she might find a kindred spirit.
As she walks away from the Pullet farm, she sees two raggedly dressed men walking toward her. She is slightly concerned about them, as they make her realize this is the first time she has been so far from home by herself. The men approach her and ask for money. Maggie digs her hand into her pocket and pulls out the coin that her Uncle Pullet had given her. It is the only money she has; she hands it to one of the men, apologizing that she has no more than that.
Maggie is heading for Dunlow Common, a place she has heard gypsies tend to use as a campground. However, she has no idea how to get there. As she continues to walk, she realizes that her imagination, as well as her impulse to react without thoroughly thinking through a challenge, has brought her to a place where she has never before been. She passes many fields and finally comes to one of the widest roads she has ever seen. She follows the new road, and as she nears a town, she notices the bare legs and feet of a young boy sleeping under some bushes. The image startles her, and she quickly and quietly passes the boy, not wanting to awaken him. Shortly thereafter, she sees a small black tent with smoke rising from a center stack. Outside the tent stands a tall woman. Though the setting and the woman do not perfectly match her image of gypsies or their style of life, Maggie walks toward the gypsy camp, hoping the strangers will feed and shelter her. No one in their group, Maggie tells herself, would dare call her an idiot, as Tom has done.
Maggie finds only women at the gypsy camp and thinks they look as if they have no leader. She asks where their gypsy queen is and tells the women if she were chosen as their queen, she would treat them very kindly. The women's reaction is not what Maggie expects. Two men eventually join the women, with one of them taking Maggie's purse and searching through the contents. It is only then that Maggie wonders...
(The entire section is 629 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 12 Summary
This chapter focuses on the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Glegg, who live in the quaint town of St. Ogg. At the time of the story, the narrator declares, ignorance is often honored over knowledge, and the common belief among men is that women prefer spreading gossip over reading a good book. This information is provided as an introduction to the mind of Mrs. Glegg.
The Gleggs live in a house that features two parlors; they give Mrs. Glegg a view from both the front and the back of her home. Mrs. Glegg often stands before the parlors' windows to "observe the weakness" of others. Her observations lead Mrs. Glegg to give thanks for her own exceptionally strong mind.
From the back windows, Mrs. Glegg tends to watch her husband—a foolish man, in her estimation—who wastes his time among the gardens of flowers and vegetables. Mr. Glegg, who is retired, finds the challenge of growing plants much more difficult than tending to business. Another challenge for Mr. Glegg is understanding how his wife's mind works. He is happily married, thankful for having chosen such a prudent woman when it comes to saving money. However, he does not comprehend why his wife's feelings of anger and vengeance are so easily aroused. In particular, Mr. Glegg is distracted by his wife's bitter feelings toward her brother-in-law, Mr. Tulliver.
When Mr. Glegg goes into the house after tending his garden, he finds his wife's mood has not changed since the previous evening. She is still in a bad temper. He can tell by the way she has done her hair and the way she has made tea; her hair is arranged in a very severe style, and the tea is very weak. Mr. Glegg decides it would be wise for him to remain silent at the table. However, even silence can bring on an argument, the narrator states, if one is in a bad mood. When her husband doesn't converse with her, Mrs. Glegg announces that she should have married someone else, since it is evident Mr. Glegg does not appreciate how good a wife she is. When Mr. Glegg asks what he has done wrong, Mrs. Glegg tells him that a good husband is one who stands up for his wife. Her criticism has been prompted by Mr. Glegg's having told her the previous night that she was wrong in thinking she should call in her loan to Tulliver.
Throughout breakfast, tensions between the husband and wife build. Mr. Glegg tells his wife that she has been well provided for and should not be so cold toward her relatives. Mrs....
(The entire section is 592 words.)
Book 1, Chapter 13 Summary
After promising Mrs. Tulliver she would try to resolve the family conflict, Mrs. Pullet visits their sister, Mrs. Glegg, in St. Ogg's; she will plead with her not to call in her loan to Mr. Tulliver. When she arrives, however, she discovers her sister has already made that decision on her own. To her surprise, Mrs. Pullet also learns that her sister is offended by her visit. Mrs. Glegg reprimands Mrs. Pullet for believing it was necessary to come all the way to St. Ogg's to inform her of the appropriate manner in which to behave. Mrs. Glegg already knows it would not look good from the neighbors' point of view if their family members were quarreling. Although Mrs. Glegg has softened her mood, she does take the opportunity to be somewhat sarcastic. She tells Mrs. Pullet she will not be going to the Tullivers to get down on her knees and ask forgiveness for being so generous, but she will hold no grudge against Mr. Tulliver; she will speak and act civily toward the man as long as he does likewise. Mrs. Glegg emphasizes that there is no need for a member of her family to come to her and educate her about proper behavior.
Knowing the issue is resolved, Mrs. Pullet is more relaxed. Not having to worry about Sister Tulliver's problems with her husband, Mrs. Pullet now has more time and energy to reflect on the audacious behavior of Sister Tulliver's children. She hastens to tell Sister Glegg all the details from the previous day, concluding with the opinion that "poor Bessy" has a lot of bad luck when it comes to the characters of Tom and Maggie. Mrs. Pullet is so concerned, she even considers paying the tuition for Maggie to be sent away to school; sending her away would not change everything that is wrong with the girl, such as her dark complexion, but it might subdue some of her bad manners. Mrs. Glegg's only comment is to say she had been right all along; even before Sister Tulliver's children were born, Mrs. Glegg had predicted the children of the Tulliver union would turn out to be bad.
Before learning Mrs. Glegg's decision not to call in his loan, Mr. Tulliver mailed a letter to her announcing he will repay her within a month, as he wants in no way to be indebted to her. Mrs. Glegg is astonished and angry when she reads the letter. She does not, however, go so far as to alter her will excluding Tom and Maggie. She is too generous to do such a thing. Besides, she would not allow her neighbors, upon her death, to claim...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Book 2, Chapter 1 Summary
Tom Tulliver has left home and is entrenched in his studies at King’s Lorton, his private school. Reverend Walter Stelling is his teacher; he insists that Tom not only learn Latin but also correct usage and pronunciation of the English language. This makes Tom nervous; he is never able to relax, even at the dinner table, because Rev. Stelling is always correcting him. Tom is the only student at present. Rev. Stelling is the only teacher. They are together through most of the day.
Mr. Stelling is not severe, but he is insistent. A broad-chested man of near thirty, with blond hair and large gray eyes, Rev. Stelling is very self-confident. His dreams are more inclined toward education than religion, though he is a masterful preacher. He is known for his sermons, which are most often extemporaneous, giving them a quality of interest that surpassed the memorized rhetoric of his contemporaries. In rural parishes such as King’s Lorton, where churchgoers are more accustomed to the mundane, Rev. Stelling’s Sunday sermons are considered “miraculous.”
Stelling is an ambitious man. Taking on Tom Tulliver has hidden meaning for Stelling. If he can educate Tom, it will demonstrate that he can improve anyone. One particular student whom Stelling is hoping will attend his private tutoring actually lives in the Tulliver neighborhood. Therefore, Stelling is rather strict with Tom because he hopes to make Tom into a model student.
Although Stelling is playful in how he disciplines Tom’s provincial, uneducated manners, Tom does not appreciate the light approach. Tom does not understand Stelling’s humor, so he believes that no matter what he does, he is wrong. This begins to lead Stelling to believe that Tom is “stupid.” Tom studies but cannot quite grasp anything that leans toward the abstract. To fix Tom’s comprehension, Stelling merely presents the boy with more abstractions, which throws Tom into a constant state of bewilderment.
During Tom’s second year at King’s Lorton, his sister Maggie comes to visit, having been invited by Mrs. Stelling to stay at the school for two weeks. Upon hearing her brother complain to their father about having to study math, Maggie tells her brother that while she is there, she will help him. Tom thinks this is ridiculous. Girls cannot possibly understand either math or Latin, he tells her. So Maggie proves she knows more than Tom realizes. She shares with him her...
(The entire section is 502 words.)
Book 2, Chapter 2 Summary
Tom is home in time to share in the family’s Christmas celebration. However, the holidays are not as happy as they might have been. Mr. Tulliver is constantly in a bad mood because a neighbor wants to divert some of the water that the mill needs to properly function. The neighbor, Mr. Pivart, is new to the community and lives upriver of the Tulliver mill. Pivart wants to use the river, through a system of dams, to irrigate his fields. The Tulliver family has lived on the river and has run the mill for more than one hundred years, so Mr. Tulliver feels he has the right to claim the river for his purposes. However, Tulliver knows that a lawyer by the name of Wakem is planning to represent Pivart. Tulliver is very familiar with Wakem and does not like the man.
Mrs. Tulliver pleads with her husband not to “go to law” over this case. He has lost a lot of money in going to court over past issues. Although Mr. Tulliver may be right, Mrs. Tulliver concludes, those who are right do not always win. Mr. Tulliver’s sister, Mrs. Moss, is visiting with Mrs. Tulliver as the discussion of the possible lawsuit is put forth. Mrs. Tulliver mentions how her sisters are always reprimanding her for letting her husband do whatever he wants. Mrs. Moss commends her brother for having a strong mind, which she hints may not be the case with Mrs. Tulliver’s sisters’ husbands.
Even if Mr. Tulliver had wanted to honor his wife’s request not to turn to the law in this particular case, he cannot stand by after hearing that Wakem is the lawyer who will represent his opponent. As a matter of fact, Tulliver believes that the only reason Pivart is pursuing the case is that Wakem has agitated him. In the past, Wakem has brought similar suits against Tulliver. One of them involved the use of a common road. The other addressed the right of a particular bridge that annexes some of Tulliver’s land. Tulliver believes that all lawyers are “rascals,” and Wakem is one of the worst kind. Mr. Tulliver’s lawyer, Mr. Gore, is obviously not as talented as Mr. Wakem is. However, Tulliver knows he has an advantage: the arbitrator, Counsellor Wylde, is on his side. This gives Tulliver extra confidence in this case.
When Tom learns of his father’s dislike of Mr. Wakem, he tells his father that Wakem’s son is to be sent to King’s Lorton to be taught by Rev. Stelling for the next term. Tom suggests that his father surely does not want him...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
Book 2, Chapter 3 Summary
Tom returns to school with candy in his pocket to help keep his mood positive. He is introduced to his only fellow-student, Philip Wakem. Tom is already familiar with Philip because they both went to the same school before transferring to Rev. Stelling’s private tutoring. At St. Ogg’s, Tom had turned away from Philip both because of the boy’s deformed back and because he believed Philip must be bad because his father was bad.
Philip is a bright boy but very timid. Upon being left alone in the room with Tom, Philip senses that Tom, like most other people, is afraid to look at him because of his hunched back. Tom sees Philip’s deformity (which was caused by a childhood accident) as a symbol of the boy’s father’s bad nature, as if the boy were cursed by his father’s “rascality.” Although Tom expects that Philip will be unable to play any typical boy games outside that require physicality, he notices that Philip is very adept with a pencil. Philip is drawing something, and Tom comes near to inspect it. As he approaches, Tom thinks he will make fun of the drawing, no matter what it looks like, in order to gain an upper hand on Philip. He senses that Philip is clever and possibly even sly and might try anything to better his position in their relationship. However, when Tom sees the drawing, he is astonished by Philip’s accomplishment. “I wish I could draw like that,” Tom confesses before thinking about what he is saying.
Philip comforts Tom by telling him that anyone can learn to draw. All one has to do, Philip says, is study the subject and then practice over and over until they can draw it correctly. Tom continues to manipulate the conversation in an attempt to gain an upper hand. He assumes that if Philip is so talented with drawing then his other studies must have suffered. He assumes he must be better educated in Latin, for instance, than Philip is. When Tom alludes to this, Philip politely holds his tongue because he sees that Tom is an ignorant young boy who has a lot to learn. Philip has finished his basic studies in Latin and math and is well ahead of Tom in his studies, though he keeps this information to himself. Philip is more sensitive than Tom is; he would like to maintain as good a relationship as possible with this, his only fellow-classmate.
Their conversation illustrates serious differences between the boys’ personalities. When Philip talks about Greek, all Tom wants from...
(The entire section is 528 words.)
Book 2, Chapter 4 Summary
Tom and Philip’s relationship has several different dimensions. On one hand, Tom continues to think that Philip, being the son of a rascal lawyer, is his natural enemy. He also has trouble getting over his repulsion of Philip’s deformity. It is in Tom’s nature to adhere very strongly to his first impressions. However, Tom has found Philip to be a likeable young lad. He likes Philip’s companionship on many levels, especially when Philip is in a good mood. Philip often helps Tom in his Latin studies, and he tells Tom exciting stories about Greek wars. Additionally Philip’s skill in drawing helps to draw Tom to him.
In the meantime, though, Rev. Stelling knows that Tom’s education will be limited by the boy’s lack of intellectual curiosity. But he is pleased that Tom continues to improve. A lot of Tom’s advancement is due to Philip’s influence. Philip helps explain the more abstract concepts to Tom, who does not truly understand them but provides Rev. Stelling with a sense that he is learning something. So during this year of study, Rev. Stelling is not quite as strict with Tom as he had been and allows him a little more leisure and less mental discipline.
However, Stelling does add another element to Tom’s education, one of a more physical nature. Mr. Poulter, the village schoolmaster who has experience as a soldier, is employed to teach Tom military discipline. Although Mr. Poulter does not possess a formidable physique, he carries himself with martial erectness and keeps his clothes scrupulously neat. Rev. Stelling believes these qualities will benefit Tom. So every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, Mr. Poulter puts Tom through some basic military exercises. Mr. Poulter appears for each session well absorbed in liquor as well as in stories of war, for which Tom tolerates him.
One day, after Tom has requested it, Mr. Poulter brings his military sword to the school to show it to Tom. The boy is impressed and asks many questions about it, including whether Mr. Poulter ever used the sword to cut of Frenchmen’s heads. Poulter replies in the positive and brags about his feats. When Poulter shows some strategic moves as if he were fighting an enemy with his sword, Tom calls for Philip to come out and watch. Philip has been inside studying his music. He is angry that Tom has broken his concentration only to talk of going outside to watch an old soldier exhibit military maneuvers. Philip calls Tom a...
(The entire section is 528 words.)
Book 2, Chapter 5 Summary
When Maggie arrives at the school, Tom and Philip still have not resolved their recent argument. This is the first time they have held onto their feelings of disgust for one another for so long. They have had similar problems, but normally they tended to pretend their antagonistic feelings for one another did not really exist.
Maggie’s arrival does not completely change the negative attitude between the boys, but she sees Philip in a completely different light than does her brother. Maggie is aware that her father does not like Philip’s father, but this does not overshadow her fascination with the lawyer’s son. Upon walking into the classroom, Maggie is immediately impressed with Philip’s cleverness. She hopes Philip will also find her clever. Later, Maggie does not refrain from telling her brother that she thinks Philip is very nice. She reminds Tom that Philip did not choose his father and, therefore, should not be punished for his parentage. Besides, Maggie believes Philip deserves their love even more because his father is so bad. Tom then tells Maggie that he and Philip have had a fight and that the boy has been “sulky” toward him ever since. Then Tom excuses himself because he wants to go do something in his bedroom that he would tell Maggie about later.
In the evening, Maggie sits with the boys as they study. She stares at one boy and then the other, observing the manner in which they seem to learn. She is impressed at the ease with which Philip reads his books. When Philip catches Maggie staring at him, he is attracted to her eyes, which he finds full of “unsatisfied intelligence.” He wishes he had a sister like Maggie and decides that she must be much nicer than her brother is.
When Tom is finished studying, he tells Maggie to follow him upstairs. He says what he is about to show her must remain a secret. He has her stand in his room with her eyes covered. When he tells her to look, Maggie is transfixed. Tom has wound a red handkerchief around his cap like a turban. On his face, he has a frown he has been practicing in the mirror. Maggie says Tom has made himself look like a pirate. This unimpressive remark makes Tom take more drastic measures. He unsheathes and points the sword at his sister. This frightens Maggie, which pleases Tom. He readjusts the sword as if to swing it around, but the sword is heavier than he expects and it falls to the ground, piercing Tom’s foot. Maggie...
(The entire section is 443 words.)
Book 2, Chapter 6 Summary
Tom is in bed while his foot heals. Philip is the first one to suggest that the doctor tell Tom he will not be lame for the rest of his life because of the accident. No one but Philip understands that such a thought might be bothering Tom. Upon hearing this, Tom is quite relieved. His mood brightens, and he even encourages Philip to come often to his room to help him pass the time.
Maggie is visiting the school again. As Philip frequents Tom’s room, he also comes to know Maggie better. Philip continues to tell Tom stories about wars. When he relates how one soldier was wounded in the foot and complained so bitterly that his fellow soldiers could no longer stand to hear him, Tom boasts of how well he reacted to his pain. “I didn’t roar out a bit,” Tom reminds Philip and Maggie, adding that to do so would have been cowardly.
One day when Maggie and Philip are alone in the study while the doctor is changing Tom’s bandages, Philip asks Maggie a question: if she had a brother such as him, would she love him as much as she loves Tom? Maggie is caught off guard by this question, and she answers without first reflecting on her thoughts. She tells Philip that she definitely would love him, but she would also “be so sorry” for him. This embarrasses Philip. He does not want her pity; he wants her love. Upon seeing Philip’s reaction to her words, Maggie attempts to make amends. She tells Philip how clever he is. He is not only intelligent but he also can sing and play music. She adds that she wishes he were her brother. If he were, he would teach her Greek and all the other things he knows.
Philip feels somewhat relieved by her claims, and he is saddened that Maggie will soon be going away to school. When she is gone, he tells her, she will forget all about him. When he sees her again, she will be grown up and will not remember him. Maggie is quick to refute this. She tells Philip that she never forgets anything. Philip confesses that he is very fond of Maggie. When he is unhappy, he thinks about her and wishes he had a sister with eyes as dark as hers. Impressed by these words, Maggie asks if Philip would like it if she kissed him, as she kisses Tom. Philip agrees to the kiss. “Nobody kisses me,” he tells her.
Later when Maggie is reunited with her father, she tells him that Philip Wakem has been very good to both her and Tom. She says that she loves Philip and prompts Tom to say the same....
(The entire section is 529 words.)
Book 2, Chapter 7 Summary
Tom is sixteen and has completed his fifth “half-year” at King’s Lorton. Maggie has been enrolled at Miss Firniss’s boarding school and enjoying her classes with Lucy as a companion, and she never fails to ask about Philip in her letters to her brother. Tom continues to find Philip a very ill-tempered boy. When the holidays come and Maggie has the chance to visit Tom at school, she conveniently forgets her promise to Philip that she will kiss him every time she sees him. Maggie realizes that she made that promise when she was still an innocent child. Now that she is a budding young woman, she knows kissing a man would be inappropriate, so she avoids it. When Mr. Wakem, Philip’s father, is called on to represent Pivart in the suit against her father, Maggie assumes that her relationship with Philip will necessarily be doomed. Maggie has heard her father say that if Philip grows up to inherit his father’s “ill-gotten gains,” the “crook-backed son” will be cursed.
Tom’s educational progress continues to be slow, yet he brings home more and more books and notes, and his drawings of landscapes shows some promise, at least in an architectural way. By the time Tom is about to graduate from Rev. Stelling’s mentoring, the young man exhibits striking changes in his speech and self-pride. Tom carries himself without the awkwardness he demonstrated in his youth, and he is less shy. As Tom prepares to complete the final weeks of his studies, he looks forward to being reunited with his family. If the pending lawsuit is completed before he arrives home, Tom will be completely content. His father has assured him that he will win the suit, so the household should enjoy a peaceful environment in time for Tom’s homecoming.
One November day, however, Maggie surprises Tom with an unannounced visit. Maggie is now thirteen and almost as tall as her brother. When Tom sees her, Maggie looks unusually serious. Tom asks why she is there; Maggie’s term at school is not yet over. Maggie explains that her father has called her home. Mr. Tulliver has lost the lawsuit and the expenses he has incurred are threatening to take not only all their furnishings but also their home and the mill. Furthermore, Mr. Tulliver has suffered a fall from his horse, and his thinking appears to be muddled. Mrs. Tulliver has asked Maggie to bring Tom home to take over his father’s position.
As Tom and Maggie leave Rev. Stelling’s...
(The entire section is 509 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 1 Summary
Upon hearing that he has lost the lawsuit, Mr. Tulliver at first bears the news very well. He even convinces himself that the loss has not affected him. He knew he would not let anyone think he was crushed by the blow, but it surprises him that he is not pretending this is so. Rather than feeling bitter or angry, Mr. Tulliver spends all his energy making plans to ward off any calamity. In fact, his mind is so full of thoughts of what he will do next that it is unsurprising that his face feels flushed when he mounts his horse to ride home.
However, on his way home, the resultant facts all come rushing in on him, and he realizes how dire his situation is. Not only has he lost the suit, which will cost him more money than he possesses, but without the mill he has no way to earn the money to pay off previous loans that are about to come due.
Once home, Mr. Tulliver admits no difficulties to his wife. He even scolds her for crying and worrying after hearing that he has lost the suit. He goes to bed only after telling her that he is making an account of all their possessions so as to list them in his will. The next day, he leaves without explaining why. As Tulliver heads to his lawyer’s office, one of his lawyer’s clerks meets him and hands him a letter. The lawyer, Mr. Gore, has been called away from his office and cannot meet with Tulliver until the next day, but he sent this letter with important information.
As is his manner, Tulliver places the letter in his pocket, determined to wait until he has returned home to read it. However, on second thought, he decides it might be better to find out what information is contained in the letter before he confronts his wife. As he reads, Mr. Tulliver learns that a mortgage he had taken on his home and mill has been transferred to none other than Mr. Wakem. This news startles Tulliver so much that he falls off his horse. A half hour later, one of Mr. Tulliver’s workers finds him lying in the middle of the road.
When Maggie arrives home, she is shocked to see her father. He babbles at her, repeating phrases that make little sense. The doctor tells Maggie that her father has received a shock that has affected his memory, but he assures her that Mr. Tulliver will regain his senses in time. The aunts and uncles are summoned shortly after Maggie’s arrival but provide little relief. The aunts moan that their sister and her two children have been ruined all...
(The entire section is 535 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 2 Summary
When Tom and Maggie finally arrive home, they are surprised to find a strange man in the parlor, sitting in their father’s chair and smoking a pipe. Maggie has no idea who the man is or why he is there. Tom’s first reaction is similar until he remembers hearing stories about bailiffs being sent to homes that are about to be sold due to lack of funds. This thought disgusts Tom; in the past these stories were meant to impart the sense of complete failure, of a family sinking to a level of disgraceful poverty.
Maggie feels concerned about her father; she runs upstairs and finds Mr. Tulliver asleep in his bed. Only then does Maggie consider her mother. She has Tom join her in searching the house for Mrs. Tulliver. They finally find her in a basement storage room. Mrs. Tulliver is seated amidst open trunks of family treasures. Mrs. Tulliver is crying because her precious linens and china are about to be taken away. Mrs. Tulliver recounts how she had obtained these items with her own money and bemoans the fact that her husband has not protected them. She insinuates that she should not have married Mr. Tulliver because he has brought her to such shame and loss.
Tom joins his mother and also becomes angry with his father. In the past, Tom had always thought that whatever his father did was correct. However, for the first time in his life, he is questioning his father’s business sense. He asks his mother about his aunts and uncles, wondering if they might come to their aid. Mrs. Tulliver says her sisters have offered to buy some of their furnishings so at least they will not be sold to strangers. However, they can only take so much. Tom attempts to comfort his mother by telling her he will soon be old enough to take a job. He will make money and save the family.
As Maggie looks on this scene, she feels her anger growing. She cannot endure hearing her mother berate her father. On top of that, she is shocked that Tom seems to agree with their mother in blaming everything on Mr. Tulliver. Maggie has grown used to feeling constantly degraded by her mother, but she cannot tolerate hearing her mother or Tom demean her father. Finally Maggie can take no more and yells at them both. She questions how her mother can put so much concern into “things” when her father is in bed, barely able to speak. Maggie also tells Tom that he of all people should not allow anyone to find fault with their father. Then Maggie rushes out...
(The entire section is 520 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 3 Summary
The aunts and uncles are due to come today to consult with their sister. Mrs. Deane is the first to arrive in her new carriage. Mr. Deane has obviously been advancing in his riches, as quickly, it is observed, as Mr. Tulliver is falling. Upon seeing her sister near tears, Mrs. Deane reminds Mrs. Tulliver that trouble is sent for a reason and she must learn to bear it. She adds that she is willing to send “jelly” for Mr. Tulliver, should the doctor order it. Mrs. Tulliver thanks her sister but adds that the doctor has not yet mentioned the need for jelly. This frivolous offer on Mrs. Deane’s part is almost insulting; the Tulliver family is deep in debt and has need of so much more than a jar of jelly.
After this exchange, Mrs. Tulliver notices that Aunt Pullet and Aunt Glegg have just arrived. Aunt Glegg, it is pointed out, has specifically chosen her outfit to instill “perfect humility” into her sister and her sister’s children. Once Mr. Glegg is seated next to the fire, he asks about Mr. Tulliver’s health. Mrs. Tulliver announces that the doctor thought Mr. Tulliver looked better this morning and was pleased to see that he now recognized her. Mr. Tulliver, however, still has not called Tom by name and looks at his son as if he were a stranger.
As the aunts continue to talk of what they are planning to do for their sister, they inquire where Tom and Maggie are. Mrs. Tulliver says they are upstairs in their father’s room and goes to get them. Upon entering the room, the aunts and uncles talk about how Tom and Maggie must be willing to work now to help keep the family housed and fed, since their father has failed them. Upon hearing this, Maggie’s anger once again flares and she jumps up. She does not like hearing her aunts and uncles talking poorly about her father. Tom turns to Maggie and tells her to be quiet. Instead, Tom speaks; he tells his relatives he has a plan. Tom thinks it would work best if his aunts would give him and Maggie the inheritance they have previously promised. If they would give it now, it would be of most use to Tom and Maggie by keeping their family from bankruptcy. When one of the uncles mentions that if the aunts gave them the money early, they would lose the interest they earn with the money invested elsewhere. Tom says he could get a job and pay them the interest. This is met with dissatisfaction from the aunts. They ask, what good is saving the house and furniture if the...
(The entire section is 598 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 4 Summary
Mr. Tulliver’s sister, Mrs. Moss, comes as soon as she hears that her brother is not well. She shows genuine distress about both her brother’s condition and his financial worries. She wants to repay a loan he had given her family a few years ago, but she and her husband are in financial straits, too, and she does not know how she can do so. Tom remembers a conversation with his father in which Mr. Tulliver said he did not intend to let the Mosses repay the loan; he gave the money freely and would rather not be repaid. Tom is worried that if his father does not regain his senses to speak for himself, when he is declared bankrupt the banks will make Mrs. Moss pay back the money. Uncle Glegg tells Tom that they need to find the note that lists the loan to Mrs. Moss and destroy it so the bank never finds it.
Maggie leads Mrs. Moss up to her father’s room. Tom and Uncle Glegg are behind them. Mr. Tulliver shows no response to their presence and remains still on the bed as if he were asleep. When Tom finds the box in which he suspects his father keeps his papers, Uncle Glegg knocks a heavy object off the desk, and the loud sound wakes up Mr. Tulliver. Upon waking in such a startling way, Mr. Tulliver seems to regain his senses. He calls everyone by name and asks what they are doing, going through all his papers.
As Maggie runs to get her mother, Tom and Uncle Glegg explain to Tulliver that he has had an accident. Ever since he fell off his horse, he has not been his normal self. They have come to his room to make sure his papers are in order. Tulliver then turns to Tom and tells his son that if he dies, Tom will be left to take care of his mother and sister. Tulliver adds that the family will be “badly off,” but Tom must be sure to pay off all the family debts.
When Mrs. Tulliver enters the room and goes to her husband’s side to kiss him, Mr. Tulliver asks his wife’s forgiveness for making her life so difficult. Then Tulliver amends his statement, adding that the trouble is not his fault. Rather, the person to blame is Wakem, the lawyer. Tulliver tells Tom that if he ever gets the chance, he must “make Wakem smart”; if Tom does not do this, he is a “good-for-nothing son.” If he could get away with it, Tulliver says Tom should horse-whip Wakem. Tom is not to do this, though, because the law is always on the side of rascals like Wakem.
Although Tulliver appeared to want to say more, he...
(The entire section is 551 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 5 Summary
Tom reflects on his Uncle Deane’s business success and concludes that if anyone can advise him on finding a job, it is this uncle. So the next day, Tom heads out to St. Ogg’s to visit his uncle. Unlike Maggie, Tom does not feel angry toward his aunts and uncles for not being more generous. He understands that his family cannot demand money from their relatives when his father had not properly taken care of the family’s business. He does not think other people are obliged to make his life easy. Therefore, he will not ask anyone to help him except to give him work and pay him for his labors.
Tom knows his uncles’ histories. Uncle Glegg and Uncle Deane had once been very poor. If they could make money, he can, too. However, he does not want to eke out a living, as Uncle Glegg has done, saving small amounts of money over a long period of time. Tom wants to be more like his Uncle Deane. He wants his fortunes to rise quickly. One day, he tells himself, he will buy back the family mill and house and enjoy a good living.
Mr. Deane is somewhat dismissive of Tom due to Tom’s young age and lack of experience and practical schooling. His having learned Latin and algebra does not impress Mr. Deane, who does not understand either subject or why teachers insist on teaching such useless skills. Before Tom leaves his Uncle Deane’s office, though, his uncle promises to try to find Tom a job. Most of his reluctance, Deane tells Tom, is due to Tom’s young age. Because Tom is only sixteen, he will be responsible for Tom. He does not know Tom’s character or work ethic, since neither has truly been tested, Deane is worried about putting Tom into a position that might require more than Tom has to give. Tom promises he will do his best if for no other reason than to save his own pride. Uncle Deane likes hearing Tom’s resolve. However, Tom leaves his uncle’s office without any possibility of a job.
On his way out of town, Tom sees a poster advertising the sale of his family’s mill next week. This, after the unsatisfactory interview with his uncle, puts Tom in a bad mood. When he arrives at home and is greeted by Maggie, Tom is ready for an argument. He feels he has been humiliated by his uncle and by the situation that his father’s faulty business has provided.
Tom mentions that Mr. Deane said bookkeeping would be a good skill for Tom to know. Maggie, in an attempt to lift her brother’s mood, tells...
(The entire section is 540 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 6 Summary
It is December, and most of the furnishings of the Tulliver household are being sold. Mr. Tulliver comes in and out of conscious during the two days of the sale but remains somewhat unaware of what is going on around him. After the auction of their belongings is done, Mrs. Tulliver looks as if she has aged ten years. Her face looks more lined and there appear to be more gray streaks in her hair.
Around six in the evening, Kezia, the Tulliver’s housemaid, tells Tom that he has a visitor. When Tom comes downstairs, he does not recognize the young man waiting for him. The stranger looks about two years older than Tom; he has red hair and blue eyes and a face full of freckles. As the two of them walk to the parlor, Tom wonders if this young man has been sent from his Uncle Deane with news of a job.
There are a few chairs and two tables but no rug left in the parlor. On one of the tables, all that remains of the library is the family Bible and a handful of other books. When the young men face one another, the guest introduces himself as Bob Jaken, a childhood occasional acquaintance of Tom’s. Bob pulls out an old pocketknife that now has a broken blade. Bob says Tom gave him the knife when they were boys. It is the only gift he ever received, except for a dog Bill Fawks gave him after Bob had pleaded with Bill not to drown the young pup.
Bob manages to stir a few memories for Tom, though one of Tom’s strongest recollections is a quarrel the two of them had when they were young boys. However, Bob’s manner is very affectionate, and all he seems to want is to help Tom in any way he can. Bob knows the Tulliver family is in trouble.
At this point in their conversation, Maggie comes into the room. She notices Bob but her attention is focused on the empty shelves where her family’s books had once been stored. Maggie is terribly disappointed that her Uncle Glegg did not come through on his promise to buy the books for her. Tom reprimands his sister, telling her she should not have expected their uncle to buy the books when he barely bought any furniture. Maggie’s eyes fill with tears when she recalls her books. She says she had thought they would have stayed with her forever. She is afraid that by the time she reaches the end of her life, she will have nothing left of what she had in the beginning.
Tom turns to his visitor and thanks him for having come by. Bob tells Tom that he has had...
(The entire section is 548 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 7 Summary
While Mr. Tulliver’s health slowly improves, his lot in life quickly deteriorates. First the furnishings of the Tulliver’s home were bought by strangers; now the livestock are being made ready to be put up for sale. Following this will be the auction of the family’s house and mill. Although Mrs. Tulliver and Tom and Maggie are well aware of what is going on around them, Mr. Tulliver appears stuck in the first stages of his predicament. During his few, irregular moments of clarity, Mr. Tulliver talks to his wife about his plans to save their home upon his feeling better. Mr. Tulliver cannot yet imagine how deep his troubles have grown.
Mrs. Tulliver and her children have not lost all hope of something working in their favor to save the land. Mrs. Tulliver’s brother-in-law, Mr. Deane, has suggested that one solution might be for his company to buy the Tulliver homestead as an investment and then hire Mr. Tulliver to manage the place. However, no definite word has arrived from Mr. Deane confirming this plan. There also still remains the fear that Mr. Wakem, the lawyer who currently holds the mortgage on the land, might try to outbid Deane’s company, possibly to spite the Tulliver family.
Days later, while visiting his sister-in-law, Mr. Deane relays this information about Wakem to Mrs. Tulliver. Mr. Deane is proving to be very sympathetic toward the Tullivers and their problems. This is most likey because of his daughter Lucy’s concern about her “poor cousins.” Deane sees to it that Tom finds a job as well as a class in bookkeeping. Mrs. Tulliver’s other brother-in-law, Mr. Glegg, has not been as forthcoming, though he has promised to buy some black tea for his appreciative sister-in-law.
Tom might have been excited about his new job and training. They should have given Tom reason for predicting a good future. However, Tom feels depressed every time he hears someone talking about his father’s failures. It is one thing to have lost money but quite another to have failed, Tom thinks. Declaring bankruptcy would allow Mr. Tulliver to be excused from repaying all his debts in full, but Tom feels shamed by his father’s inability to do well by his family.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Tulliver has thought of a scheme to ensure that Mr. Deane’s plan will work. She has decided to pay a visit to Mr. Wakem. She wonders why no one else has thought of this. Upon meeting with him, Mrs. Tulliver makes the...
(The entire section is 554 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 8 Summary
Mr. Tulliver comes downstairs for the first time. Mrs. Tulliver has Tom wait before he goes to work so he will be there when Mr. Tulliver first sees how desolate the house looks without furniture. Mr. Tulliver’s doctor is concerned that a rush of information might put Mr. Tulliver back into his less conscious state; he bids the family to let Mr. Tulliver learn of the family’s current situation as slowly as possible.
Things have gotten worse for the Tullivers. Mr. Deane and his company were not able to purchase the land and mill because Mr. Wakem outbid him. Everything now belongs to Wakem. Conveniently for Wakem, he had come to call on the Tullivers while both Mr. Glegg and Mr. Deane were present. Wakem let it be known that he is willing to hire Mr. Tulliver to manage the mill, knowing from Mrs. Tulliver that this would completely demoralize her husband.
Both of Mrs. Tulliver’s sisters, Aunt Glegg and Aunt Deane, look upon Wakem as a generous man who has made an offer Mr. Tulliver should not refuse. Their husbands, Mr. Glegg and Mr. Deane, are a little more sympathetic to Mr. Tulliver’s disproval of Wakem, but they eventually agree with their wives. Wakem is offering Tulliver a chance to keep his family out of the poor house—without any assistance from the aunts and uncles. The uncles erroneously conclude that Wakem must hold no grudge against Tulliver.
Tom feels differently. He knows how painful it would be for his father to work for Wakem, a man whom he clearly despises. Tom and Maggie decide it might be better if they ease their father back to the present moment and all its dreadful details by doing so without their mother’s taking part in the discussion. They know their mother is too emotional and still blames her husband for all their troubles. Tom and Maggie meet their father upstairs.
When Mr. Tulliver begins to speak about the work that must be done, Tom and Maggie realize that their father has forgotten not only the immediate past but also details from three years ago. They slowly correct his mistakes and fill in the information that is missing in his thoughts. Eventually Mr. Tulliver learns that his creditors have declared him bankrupt. Maggie tells him that all their furnishings have been sold.
Upon hearing this, Mr. Tulliver announces that he is ready to go downstairs. His children help him descend into the parlor. When they arrive, their mother comes into the...
(The entire section is 485 words.)
Book 3, Chapter 9 Summary
As Mr. Tulliver’s health improves and his mind is better able to grasp the major changes that have evolved in his life, his mood becomes more negative. As he thinks about his options, he realizes that there is not much he can do to improve the conditions of his family’s current status. He has spent all his working years ordering other people around. He has no other aptitude. He might take a job doing physical labor, he thinks. There is also the possibility that his wife’s sisters might help them out financially. However, the more he thinks about both of these options, the less he likes them. Neither of these proposals hold any meaning, once Tulliver reflects on them. He is angry with his wife’s family for having allowed all his wife’s possessions to be sold to strangers. He is also extremely irritated by what Wakem has done.
As he looks about his property, Tulliver’s memories grow stronger, and the objects around him become more precious. His family has lived on this land for generations. He can trace the history of each tree. When Tulliver starts a conversation with Luke, his hired hand, he recalls the old family saying that if ever the mill should “change hands,” the river would become angry. Tulliver believes it is wrong that the mill, which he remembers being built, should belong to someone else.
This train of thought upsets Tulliver. First he gets silent. That night after dinner, Maggie notices the change in her father. When Tom comes home from work, Mr. Tulliver tells him to get a pen and be prepared to write down what he is about to tell him; he wants Tom to record a statement in the family Bible. Then Tulliver begins to speak his mind. First he tells his wife that he will keep his promise and work under Wakem. He knows he must give in to Wakem because he, Tulliver, has caused so many hardships for his family. He will work an honest day, because he is an honest man, but he will never again be able to hold his head up, Tulliver says. He is “a tree as is broke.” Then he adds, “But I won’t forgive him!” He wishes that one day Wakem will be punished for what he has done. Tulliver makes Tom promise that he, too, will never forgive Wakem. Tulliver tells Tom to write these statements down.
Maggie tells her father that it is wrong to wish harm to someone. To this, Mr. Tulliver agrees. However, he says it is also wrong that people like Wakem should prosper. Tulliver insists that Tom write...
(The entire section is 499 words.)
Book 4, Chapter 1 Summary
The narrator states that this chapter concerns some of the beliefs of the characters involved in this story in order to help readers better understand why the characters act the ways they do. It focuses on the Tullivers and the Dodsons (Mrs. Tulliver’s side of the family).
Readers might find the lives of the Tullivers and Dodsons oppressive, with their lack of romantic visions and “self-renouncing faith.” They seem unmoved by wild, uncontrollable passions; their lives are devoid of any of the “poetry” of peasant life. Instead, these families are ruled by conventional habits and proud respectability. The little religion that guides their lives is not much above the “pagan.” They believe what their parents believed without questioning any of it. Readers might conclude that they could not live among these people, with their lack of things beautiful and great. These are “dull men and women” who are out of touch with the world in which they live. Readers must feel this narrowness, the narrator claims, to understand Tom and Maggie. Then the narrator further explains the families’ biases.
These are people who will claim they are religious, but their religion is simple and consists of praising whatever is customary. For example, they believe it is necessary to exercise some of the sacraments, such as baptism, so one can be buried in the church cemetery when they die. However, it is equally necessary to have the proper pall-bearers at one’s funeral as well as a well-cured ham at the funeral dinner. These types of considerations are at the same level of importance as obeying one’s parents, being thrifty, thoroughly scouring one’s copper pans, and preferring things that are homemade over things that are manufactured and sold in stores.
In a slightly different realm, the Dodson motto is to be honest and rich. In death, one is supposed to have a will that proves him to be richer than anyone had guessed. The family code is for adults to severely correct any child who strays from the family’s traditions and rules, but this punishment should never go to the point of excluding any kin from the will. The Dodsons were most disturbed if anyone proved themselves a discredit to their family name. But they would never punish any kin so severely that their relatives went hungry. They might, however, under certain conditions, provide them with food that is not very appealing to the palate.
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Book 4, Chapter 2 Summary
Mr. Tulliver has recuperated and is back at work overseeing the mill—only now Mr. Wakem is his employer. Tom has busied himself with work in the town and does not have much to say when he is home. Tom has focused his life on his pursuit of “ambitious resistance to misfortune.” Mrs. Tulliver seems to be the most worn down by the drama of the past few months. She cannot seem to return to her old ways. All the things that had once occupied her days are now missing from her home—the linens she tended, the pots and pans she scrubbed; all the things she once cared for are gone. She is growing thinner every day, worrying over the loss of her lifetime of collecting treasures. She does not notice until Maggie calls her on ruining her health. However, this does not stop Mrs. Tulliver from insisting that she do most of the hard work around the house. She does not want her thirteen-year-old daughter to roughen her hands. Instead, Mrs. Tulliver tells Maggie to do the sewing if she wants to help out.
Of her two parents, though, Maggie worries most about her father. Mr. Tulliver is sullen and depressed. He has thrown off the childlike condition of dependence that had all but paralyzed him in his illness, but now he has grown taciturn. Where once he had been communicative, now he is withdrawn from the world as if he is putting all his energy to some inner purpose. No longer can Maggie see any joy in her father’s expressions.
Tulliver very seldom wanders off the land that had once been his. He feels shame when he must face his creditors at the market. His driving force in life is to one day free himself from debt so he will owe no one. Tom is also committed to this purpose and adds to the money tin his father keeps. Only when Maggie sees her father look at the meager savings in the container does she see a hint of her father’s pleasure expressed on his face.
Although Maggie does not fully realize it, she is the real pleasure in her father’s life now. Unfortunately, her father’s feelings for her are now spoiled with the bitterness of the recent failures he has endured. At night, when Maggie is done with her sewing, she sits at her father’s feet and presses her head against his knees. She longs for her father to stroke her head, to give her a sign of his remaining love for her. However, no matter how much Mr. Tulliver loves Maggie, when he now thinks of her, his mind is occupied with worries. He wonders how she...
(The entire section is 492 words.)
Book 4, Chapter 3 Summary
One day while Maggie is sitting outside reading a book, she hears footsteps walking toward her. She looks up to find Bob, the young man from Tom’s boyhood who thanked Tom for giving him a pocketknife when they were children. When Maggie explains that Tom is at work, Bob tells Maggie that the real reason for his visit is to see her. Then Bob opens a sack he is holding and takes out several small books. Bob tells Maggie that he knows she felt sad about losing all her books, and he hopes his small offering will make her feel better.
Bob leafs through each of the books and points out the pictures of gentlemen in one and ladies in another. He comments that some of the people have on wigs while others do not. Some of the portraits are of people who are smiling. In other pictures, people are sitting. Bob says he found the books so fascinating he stayed up most of the night looking through them. He felt as if the people in the books were talking to him. Then he realized he did not have anything to say to them, so he brought the books to Maggie because he believes it would be more appropriate for her to have conversations with the people in these books.
Maggie graciously thanks Bob but worries about the money he spent to buy the books. Bob says he would have spent three times as much money if he thought the books would make her happy. Maggie confesses that no one has ever been so thoughtful about her and tells Bob to come back again. When he is gone, Maggie briefly thinks of Bob; she sees him as if he were a knight come to a lady’s rescue. However, a short time after, the gloom of her lonely days returns and Maggie feels even worse than she did before Bob came.
Maggie has an imagination but she has trouble rousing it these days. Her thoughts are consumed with trying to figure out why her life has become so difficult. When she thinks about Bob, a part of her longs to be like him in his simple ignorance. Instead she has a strong longing for some unnamed passion that she feels she will never attain. In her desperate search for answers about who she is and what she should do about her life, she opens one of the small books Bob brought her. Inside she finds a series of quotations about the secrets of life. The one that strikes the deepest suggests that people should forsake themselves to enjoy “much inward peace.” Once a person is able to attain this state of mind, all worries will “fly away.” Maggie immediately...
(The entire section is 522 words.)
Book 5, Chapter 1 Summary
Maggie is now seventeen; she is sitting in the parlor when she sees Mr. Wakem ride up the path. Someone is with him. When they come closer to the house, Maggie recognizes Philip, Wakem’s son. Maggie feels too embarrassed to see him, especially with his father and her father close by, so she takes her books and goes upstairs to her room. But she wonders how Philip might have changed. She knows he has spent years abroad and thinks he might not even remember her. Philip might have no desire to talk to her.
As she stares at Philip from her bedroom window, Maggie notices that his looks have barely changed. He is bigger but still has a young boy’s features, emphasized by his large gray eyes and wavy dark hair. She attempts to remember her promise to herself to forget all her passions so that she might be more submissive to what life brings rather than always desiring more than she has, but Maggie still wishes she could talk to Philip. She remembers how he used to like her eyes and said she could express herself by just looking at him. However, she realizes that she must stop these thoughts. To accomplish this, she starts singing a hymn. She promises herself to keep singing until she sees Philip and his father leave.
Later, Maggie goes for a long walk. It is her one indulgence, walking out into the fields and forest where, when she was much younger, she used to be frightened to go by herself. She is different now. She enjoys the nature around her and no longer fears that something horrible is hiding behind every tree, waiting to harm her. As she stands staring up at a broken limb in one of the old fir trees, she notices a moving shadow from the corner of her eye. When she looks over, she is surprised to see Philip. He has been watching for her, he tells her. When he saw her leave the house, he followed her. Maggie tells Philip she is very glad he has come. After Maggie tells him she has thought of him often over the years, Philip is very satisfied that she has had him on her mind as much as he has thought of her.
As they walk together, Maggie and Philip share memories of the time they spent together at the school. Both admit how much they had enjoyed one another’s friendship. They also state how much they have missed one another. However, Maggie reminds Philip that many things have changed since then—so much so that she should never see him again or it might break her father’s heart. Philip begs Maggie to...
(The entire section is 521 words.)
Book 5, Chapter 2 Summary
Tom’s Uncle Deane has taken Tom under his care, at least as far as business goes. When Mr. Deane, a ship owner, has the time, he calls Tom into his office and teaches him about the import and export business. Tom has done well at the job Mr. Deane has given him and is in his second year with his uncle. Although Tom has already received an increase in salary, most of what he makes goes into his father’s savings box. Tom is determined to help his father repay all his debts. The process is very slow, however. In two years, together they have not even saved two hundred pounds—less than half of what Tulliver owes.
Tom’s Uncle Glegg has also taken an interest in Tom’s financial success. Glegg encourages the boy; he hopes Tom has more Dodson than Tulliver blood in his veins. Tom is often invited to eat dinner at his aunt and uncle’s home, so his relationship with the Gleggs has grown closer over the past two years.
One day, Bob Jakin, the boy Tom had befriended when they were children, is waiting for Tom after work. Bob is also aware of the benefits in trading goods, and he has a proposition for Tom. Trading is not a completely secure business deal but rather requires speculation. Investment in trading makes profits less sure, but the investment is potentially more lucrative.
When Tom goes home and talks with his father, Mr. Tulliver does not completely discourage Tom. However, he makes his son realize how painful it would be to take any of their money out of savings if they were to lose it. Mr. Tulliver is a conservative man and would rather save his money in his tin box than risk it. Tom appreciates his father’s fears and decides not to pressure him. However, Tom does not give up on the idea of speculating.
Tom goes to see his Uncle Glegg to discuss the business proposition Bob Jakin has made. Tom wants to find out if Glegg is willing to put up twenty pounds of his money; Tom promises interest on the loan when the trading deal is completed. Bob is with Tom during the meeting, and Mr. Glegg becomes fascinated with Bob. Bob is unusually forthcoming in his manner and speech, which Mr. Glegg finds to be crude but refreshing. When Mrs. Glegg sees her husband welcoming Bob into their home, she rebels against the gesture. She does not know the boy and does not like his appearance. However, Bob is very good at estimating Mrs. Glegg’s personality and begins to flatter her before tempting her with...
(The entire section is 498 words.)
Book 5, Chapter 3 Summary
On the appointed day, Maggie walks out into the field, determined to tell Philip that this will be the last time they will meet. When she sees him, the first words that come out of her mouth are, “I have made up my mind.” She tells him the only way they could continue to see one another would be through “concealment.” In other words, she would have to lie to her parents about what she is doing. No good can ever come from lying, Maggie says to Philip. If they were found out, there would be anger. Then when they were forced to part, it would be worse because they will have reignited their feelings for one another.
Philip is ready to resist Maggie’s conclusion, but he decides to take a subtle direction. First he suggests that they walk together and merely enjoy the time they have together without thinking about what lies ahead. He takes her hand, and they walk in silence. At a certain point, Philip suggests that they sit so he can make sketches of Maggie. He will spend his time away from her, painting a picture of her.
As Philip concentrates on his drawing, Maggie says it seems that all he thinks about is his art. Philip denies this and says he thinks about a lot of different things. He uses a metaphor to explain his thoughts, saying that he sows a lot of seeds but gains no great harvest from any of them. He is cursed, he states, by wanting to do so many different things without being particularly good at any of them.
Maggie relates to what Philip is describing. She, too, wants many different things. However, she knows now that her life will be of no special consequence, and she has resigned herself to it. The only way she can gain any sense of contentment is to want nothing. She tells Philip she is teaching herself to subdue her own will.
This angers Philip. He says she is shutting herself up in a delusion. She is trying to escape pain by making herself numb to the world and everything around her. She has not gained peace as she has suggested; she has only reached “stupefaction” and ignorance. This makes tears come to Maggie’s eyes. There is some truth in what Philip is saying, though Maggie does not want to fully accept it. Philip knows he is telling Maggie something that might do some good for her, but he also realizes that he stands to benefit if he can convince her to live for enjoyment and include him in her life.
Finally Philip tells Maggie there is one way around...
(The entire section is 480 words.)
Book 5, Chapter 4 Summary
Almost a year has passed, and Maggie and Philip are still secretly meeting in the field next to Maggie’s home. She is reading a book Philip lent to her, and she does not want to finish it. She is tired of reading about light-haired protagonists winning the lover over their dark-complexioned rivals. The blond-haired women in books gain all the happiness. She asks Philip to find her a book in which a dark-haired woman thrives.
Philip suggests that maybe Maggie will avenge all dark-haired women in real life by carrying away all the love from her light-haired cousin, Lucy. Philip says Lucy probably has some handsome suitor right now whom Maggie could easily steal. “You have only to shine upon him,” Philip says.
Maggie does not find this statement flattering. She also does not believe she has a chance to take anything away from Lucy, who has every advantage over her. Lucy has nice clothes and good schooling, and she is “ten times” prettier than Maggie is. Maggie adds that she is not jealous of blond-haired women. Rather, she always cheers for the people who are most unhappy. If a light-complexioned woman in a story were unhappy, she would champion her.
Philip asks if this means Maggie could never reject a lover. He adds that he has always wondered if she could love a man whom other women are unable to love. To add to the scenario, he asks what if this man has no reason to be conceited because he was marked for suffering from childhood—and what if this man is someone who loves her so much that he finds happiness in merely being able to see her for rare, brief moments. After saying this, Philip worries that he has exposed himself to a greater degree than he should have. To his relief, he notices that Maggie has a new expression on her face. It does not reflect disgust; rather, it is as if Maggie has just heard something she had never imagined. However, she is trembling and seems about to cry. Philip blurts out an apology, saying he is a fool for having said so much. He asks if she now hates him.
Maggie answers by saying she does not think she could love anyone more than she loves Philip. However, she thinks it best if they not discuss this. Their friendship is so tenuous; if they were found out, they would never be able to meet again. She says she would love to spend the rest of her life with Philip if it were possible, but she would never do anything that would hurt her father. Philip will not...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
Book 5, Chapter 5 Summary
Maggie and Philip enjoy meeting in secret for almost a year before they are found out. The person who gives them away comes as a surprise to them: it is Maggie’s Aunt Pullet. On a Sunday after church, Mrs. Pullet rides past the fields on her way to a visit with her sister, Mrs. Glegg. Afterward, she comes to see her more unfortunate sister, Bessy Tulliver.
Tom is home when his aunt arrives, and he is in an exceptionally good mood. He is even thoughtful enough to include Maggie in his invitation to walk outside with their mother and aunt. Tom has become more tolerant of Maggie since she has curbed her childhood tendency toward rebellion. Tom also is becoming proud of Maggie, especially after hearing flattering comments in town about his sister’s rising beauty.
Even Aunt Pullet comments on Maggie’s improved appearance. She says she never thought Maggie would turn out to be so pretty. Then she goes on to compare Maggie to Lucy, who is often referred as the “belle o’ St. Ogg’s.” Mr. Tulliver, who much prefers his daughter to Lucy, thinks Lucy is too small. He says Lucy looks “silly” at the side of a man who dominates her in stature. Aunt Pullet mentions that not all men are so big. Tom is small built, she points out, and so is Philip Wakem. Then she says that she often sees Philip scrambling out of the woods at the edge of the field at Red Deeps, which are the fields at the end of the Tullivers’ homestead.
No one comments on this until later. Hearing that Philip is often seen near the house and knowing that Maggie often takes long walks through these fields makes Tom very suspicious. Tom plans to catch his sister and Philip together.
One day, just as Maggie is about to leave for the fields, Tom greets his sister. He has left work early. He walks with her to the field, demanding that she tell him what her relationship with Philip has become. Then he threatens to tell their father unless Maggie promises to never see Philip again. Tom insists that Maggie tell him everything that has happened between her and Philip. Maggie is afraid that Tom will reveal her to their father, so she explains that she has been meeting Philip for the past year. They are friends. When Tom presses her for more intimate information, Maggie confesses that Philip has professed his love for her and that she has also admitted her feelings.
Upon meeting Philip in the field, Tom makes Maggie choose between...
(The entire section is 559 words.)
Book 5, Chapter 6 Summary
Three weeks after Tom found out about Maggie’s relationship with Philip, Tom again comes home early from work. Although his communications with his sister have ceased, neither of their parents has noticed the tension between Tom and Maggie. Both Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver have been too lost in their own gloom, still suffering from their losses of the past few years.
Tom, however, is in a good mood and calls his parents into the parlor. Once they are both seated, Tom asks his father to tell him the exact amount of money that has been saved. Mr. Tulliver gives him a figure, which is short of two hundred pounds. Mr. Tulliver comments on how frustrating it is that it takes so much time to save so little.
Upon hearing the figure, Tom insists that his father must have made a mistake. He asks that his father retrieve the tin case in which the money is stored and recount what he finds there. Tom’s father reluctantly agrees to do this. When Tulliver returns to the room with the tin, he opens it, takes out the money, and counts it. He comes to the same amount he had stated earlier. Tulliver states, “There now! You see I was right enough.” Then the father looks down at the tin with a depressed expression on his face. He tells his family that he still needs three hundred more pounds, which will probably not be gathered by the time he dies. It has already taken four years, he says, just to save what he has now.
Tom has been waiting for this moment to make his announcement. Tom tells his father that he will live to see the debts all paid. Everyone in the room looks at Tom. His tone of voice has a peculiar note of honesty to it. Tom’s statement, they sense, is more than a mere wish or hope. Mr. Tulliver looks at his son with a “look of eager inquiry,” but Tom remains silent for a few seconds more. Then he relates his story. He tells of the money his Uncle Glegg had lent him so Tom could invest in trading. Tom’s speculations have rewarded him, and now he has three hundred pounds saved in the bank.
Upon hearing this, Mrs. Tulliver rushes to her son, telling him that she always knew he would save them. However, Maggie and Tom are concerned about their father’s silence. They both fear that the shock might be too much for their father to bear. Finally, Mr. Tulliver calls for his wife to come kiss him; their son has “made you amends.” Mrs. Tulliver, her husband says, will now be able to afford a few...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
Book 5, Chapter 7 Summary
At the meeting between Mr. Tulliver and his creditors, Mr. Tulliver takes a drink. This is unusual for the man, and most believe the action is a sign that the sudden surprise of his fortune is too much for Tulliver’s frail health. However, as the meeting progresses, Tulliver appears to gain strength and confidence. Before the meeting is concluded, Tulliver makes a speech in which he asserts his “honest principles” and compares them to those of the “rascal” who would rather see him put down. He has triumphed in spite of the attempts of some people who wanted to see him fail. He has worked hard, and through his efforts and those of his “good” son, he has prevailed.
Mr. Deane adds a few words about the fine character of his nephew. Tom then stands to speak and thanks everyone who has helped him. He also expresses his joy in being able to help his father regain his honest name. Upon hearing his son speak as well as the applause that follows, Mr. Tulliver cannot help but mention how much money he spent on his son’s education.
When the meeting is over, Tom returns to work while his father mounts his horse for the ride home. The old man feels a tremendous difference as he wanders through the town. All his former feelings of guilt and shame are gone. He can hold his head high now that the heavy weight of debt has been removed. However, as he makes his way through the town, he wonders why he has not come across Mr. Wakem. The lack of this chance meeting makes Tulliver angry. He thinks Wakem might be purposefully avoiding the hour of his triumph.
When he has almost reached the gates of the mill, Tulliver sees Wakem riding toward him. Once they are within earshot, Wakem calls out in a haughty voice that Tulliver has planted his crops all wrong. Tulliver responds that if Wakem does not like the way he is farming, he should find someone to replace him. Wakem is shocked and asks if Tulliver has been drinking. Tulliver says he is not drunk, but he will no longer serve such a “scoundrel” as Wakem. As their conversation becomes more heated, Wakem attempts to cross the narrow bridge on which Tulliver is sitting on his horse. A pushing match between the men and horses ensues, and Wakem falls to the ground. Tulliver takes advantage of this. He jumps of his horse and begins to beat Wakem with his riding whip.
Maggie appears and pulls her father away. As she does so, Tulliver tells her he is not...
(The entire section is 505 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 1 Summary
The scene changes to the Deanes’ home, where cousin Lucy is sitting with Stephan Guest. It is not official, but Lucy and Stephan are very near to being engaged. Lucy is dressed in black because the family is still in mourning for Mr. Tulliver, Lucy’s uncle. Stephan appears bored; he is teasing Lucy’s dog with a pair of scissors. Lucy tells Stephan to stop making her dog angry so she can tell Stephan some news. Then she tells him to guess what the news might be.
After Stephan makes several ridiculous guesses, Lucy claims that he must think she is silly. She then adds that Philip Wakem told her that Stephan said he likes women to be “insipid.” Stephan responds that Philip’s remark does not surprise him. Stephan thinks Philip must be secretly in love with some very serious-minded young woman.
With her thoughts turned to Philip, Lucy wonders if Maggie dislikes Philip as much as Tom does. Lucy and Philip are friends, and Philip often visits her. Lucy worries that Maggie might object to Philip’s coming to the house while Maggie is staying there with her. Stephan feels annoyed when he hears this. He asks if this is Lucy’s news—that Maggie will be visiting. He also questions if Lucy thought this news would make him happy. Lucy replies that it is she who will be made happy when Maggie is there. She adds that there is no other girl in the world whom she loves more than she does Maggie.
It is obvious that Stephan is not looking forward to this event. He supposes that Maggie will take up all of Lucy’s time, leaving nothing left for him. He says that maybe they could engage Philip to distract Maggie so he and Lucy can have some privacy. Then he wants to know why Maggie might not want Philip around.
Lucy says the feud between the Tullivers and the Wakems is a family affair about which she has very few details. She ends her commentary about the family by stating that Maggie has been suffering from a lot of calamities over the past few years, and that is why Lucy wants Maggie to come visit her. Lucy feels it is time Maggie had some pleasures to enjoy. Stephan wants to know if Maggie is anything like her mother; Bessy Tulliver has been working as a housekeeper for the Deanes since Mr. Tulliver died. Stephan ridicules Mrs. Tulliver mercilessly. Then he attempts to imagine what Maggie might be like. He pictures her as “a fat, blond girl, with round blue eyes, who will stare at us silently.” Lucy...
(The entire section is 458 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 2 Summary
Maggie has arrived at the Deanes’ house, and Lucy is talking to her about Stephan. Lucy says she is sure Maggie will like him. Maggie, however, is not so sure. She says any man who thinks he is good enough for her cousin will have to be scrutinized very carefully. Maggie tells Lucy she will be very difficult to please. Lucy claims that Stephan is actually too good for her. When he is not with her, she cannot imagine why he loves her. However, she never doubts his love when he is with her. She then admits that she has never told anyone else how she feels about him. She also confesses that she would rather not be engaged just yet. She likes the way their relationship is without a commitment to marriage. She hopes they are able to maintain their relationship on this level for a long time, though she suspects Stephan is getting close to asking her father for his permission to marry her.
Lucy changes the subject and attempts to cheer her cousin by talking about buying some new clothes for her. Maggie says her unhappiness has become a bad habit. She likens her sadness to a caged bear who thinks he is still in confinement even when he has been let loose. Lucy has trouble imagining all the hardships Maggie has endured. Lucy says she has had so much happiness in her life that she does not know if she could bear much trouble.
Maggie praises Lucy for her ability to find happiness in making other people experience pleasure. Maggie fears she is just the opposite. She says that sometimes she gets angry when she sees other people are happy. She is concerned that she is becoming more selfish as she gets older. Lucy counters this statement by telling Maggie that her anger and any other negative thoughts are due to her having suffered a very dreary, dull life.
When Lucy changes the subject to music, she mentions Philip’s name and notices a change in Maggie’s expression. Lucy asks Maggie if she minds talking about Philip. Maggie says that she likes Philip, and this makes Lucy happy. She decides to invite Philip to their home as soon as possible.
Their conversation is interrupted by Stephan’s arrival. Stephan is pleasantly shocked by Maggie’s beauty. Maggie feels flattered by his obvious attraction to her. She cannot remember anyone’s ever being so taken with her. When Maggie leaves the room, Lucy asks Stephan what he thinks of her cousin. Stephan admits that he was surprised by the girl’s beauty, but he...
(The entire section is 494 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 3 Summary
When Maggie retires to her room at Lucy’s house, she cannot fall asleep. She is agitated but cannot figure out why. She thinks back to the details of the day. Everything was stimulating, especially in comparison to the life she had experienced before coming to the Deanes’ house. There was music, good food, and stimulating conversations. There was also Mr. Stephan Guest, who was very obvious about his admiration of her.
Maggie tries but cannot reconstruct the mental mode of removing all emotions from her being. She had been able to do this once in the past, but she shudders now just thinking about it. There was a time when she had thought all her longing and impatience had been subdued. No matter how hard she prayed to regain that state of mind, it appeared to be beyond her grasp, forever gone. Her challenges in life are not, it seems to her now, to be decided in that easy way.
Lucy stops by Maggie’s room and is surprised to find that Maggie has not yet dressed for bed. She concludes that the music that was played downstairs excited her cousin. Maggie agrees with Lucy’s assumption; she adds that she thinks she would have no other wants if she could listen to music like that every day of her life. The music strengthens her and provides her imagination with ideas. With music, life seems effortless. Without music, Maggie says, her life presents her with a heavy weight.
Stephan had provided the music by singing for them after dinner. Lucy asks Maggie to tell her what she thinks of Stephan. Maggie says Lucy should humiliate Stephan more so he will not be so confident. Lucy concludes that Maggie thinks Stephan is conceited. She wants to know if this means Maggie does not like him. Maggie says there is no way she could ever not like someone who makes Lucy happy.
Lucy is glad to know Maggie loves the music. Tomorrow night, she tells Maggie, will be even better because Stephan is bringing Philip with him. Upon hearing this, Maggie becomes agitated. She tells her cousin that she cannot see Philip without first asking Tom’s permission. She does not want to ask Tom because she is concerned it will make him angry. Lucy suggests that she ask Tom, but Maggie will not hear of it. She will go herself and ask her brother to “reprieve” her from her promise. When Lucy challenges Maggie to reveal her secret feelings about Philip, Maggie does so. Maggie feels relieved; she has never before had anyone to talk...
(The entire section is 515 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 4 Summary
Maggie goes to visit Tom to ask his permission to see Philip. Tom is now living with Bob in a small house near the water. Bob has married a very small but friendly woman who invites Maggie into her home as if they have known one another for a long time. Bob’s wife says Bob has often talked about Maggie. When Bob appears, he tells Maggie that Tom, despite his good fortune in the trading business, appears to be depressed. Bob thinks the reason might be that Tom has been rejected in love. He asks Maggie to talk to her brother to find out what is truly wrong with him. Maggie says she has no power with Tom. She fears that he will not open up to her.
Eventually Tom comes into the room, and Bob leaves the brother and sister alone so they can talk. Maggie does not hesitate to tell her brother why she is there. She asks him to release her from her promise to not see Philip. She explains that she has not broken her promise in all this time, and she is not asking permission for herself but rather for Lucy, who wants to invite Philip to her house.
Maggie is surprised to find that her request does not anger her brother. However, she can tell he is not pleased with her. Tom tells Maggie that he could never approve of her involvement with Philip if for no other reason than that Philip’s father would never agree to their marriage. Tom reminds Maggie of the last scene between their father and Mr. Wakem, during which their father beat Wakem. Tom asks, how could Mr. Wakem ever forget what their father did to him?
Maggie assures Tom that she only wants to be friends with Philip. She realizes that they can never be lovers. She is hurt, though, when her brother says he does not trust her judgment. Tom then criticizes Maggie for acting in extreme ways. He says she does not have very good control of her thoughts or her emotions. Despite this, she always thinks she knows best and is resistant to his counsel.
Maggie attempts to explain that she and Tom have very different characters. They are so dissimilar that they will never fully understand one another. She appreciates what Tom tries to do for her, but circumstances affect her differently than they affect him. Tom accepts this assessment; however, he maintains that Maggie loses herself in extremes. One day, he says, Maggie is absorbed in complete self-denial of all emotions, but the next day she is reacting to any frivolous feeling no matter what the consequences might...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 5 Summary
Mr. Deane has called his nephew, Tom, into his office to discuss a business proposition. Deane starts the conversation by comparing the present time to when he was Tom’s age. He tells his nephew that it took much longer for a young man to progress. Everything moved slower back then. However, now there are steam engines that speed productions, and with the population growing, there are greater demands for goods. This means there are opportunities for young men to advance at a much quicker pace.
As his uncle continues, Tom anticipates what Deane is about to say. In the past few weeks, his uncle has thrown out hints that Tom might expect a promotion in position as well as a bigger salary. Tom has been working for his uncle for seven years now. He is twenty-three years old. Uncle Deane says that if he had had a son, he would have hoped he would turn out as well as Tom has. It is not because the two of them are related, though, that Deane is about to make this offer. He is about to make this offer because Tom has proved himself worthy. Tom is a man of “right habits,” Deane tells him.
The more Tom hears, the more nervous he becomes. Tom has ideas of his own about his future, and he is not sure his uncle will approve of them. However, he keeps quiet until his uncle is finished speaking. Mr. Deane is saying he has discussed Tom with his partner, the elder Mr. Guest. They have decided to offer Tom a share in their business. In exchange, Tom will take on more responsibilities and do some of the work his uncle has been doing.
When Deane is finished, Tom reminds his uncle that he had once said the company might buy the Tulliver mill, thinking it would be a good investment. Mr. Deane recalls this and reminds him that Wakem outbid them in the auction. Tom says it was his father’s dying wish that Tom buy back the property as soon as he could. If the company were to buy it, Tom would work the mill and eventually pay the company back. Mr. Deane’s only hesitation, after some reflection, is that he is not sure Mr. Wakem is willing to sell the mill. Tom replies that there have been rumors that the mill is not making the kind of money Wakem had anticipated. If this continues, Wakem might want to be rid of the mill. Tom knows how to improve the mill to make it a better investment.
Mr. Deane agrees to look into the matter. However, he wonders how Tom would find time to run the mill and work in the trading...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 6 Summary
Maggie is enjoying a lot of attention in the society of St. Ogg’s. She attends dances, wears fancy dresses, and is very aware of the young women talking about her and the young men flirting with her. Thus Maggie is introduced to the way of life of a young, well-to-do lady. She gets up in the morning without having anything special that must be done. She enjoys unchecked leisure, an abundance of music, and long walks in the sunshine. As time passes, the haunting memories of her troubled youth begin to slip away. She has become, she realizes, a woman who is noticed. This is something very new for her.
Philip has not yet shown himself. He had not known that Maggie was in town when he made plans to spend a couple of weeks at the coast. Maggie finds that she is not disappointed by Philip’s absence. The time without him provides an opportunity for Maggie to experience new thoughts and feelings without having to explain them to anyone.
Stephen has been present throughout most of those two weeks. The three of them—Stephen, Lucy, and Maggie—spend a lot of time either at the piano or on outdoor excursions. Lucy has looked upon the attention Stephan has been showering on Maggie without envy. Instead, Lucy daydreams about what fun it would be if Maggie should marry Philip; the two couples could then be always together. Lucy especially feels no need for jealously because since Maggie’s arrival Stephan seems even more attuned to Lucy’s needs. The narrator explains that Stephan has indeed been showing Lucy more attention than usual, even though Stephan does not realize he is doing so. Maggie has also changed somewhat. For instance, she leaves the room, if Lucy is not there, when Stephan comes in. If Stephan and Maggie find themselves in a room alone, they barely speak to one another. Only after Lucy returns do Stephan and Maggie engage in conversation.
One night, Lucy must go into town to help prepare for a fair. She leaves Maggie at home. After dinner, when Maggie goes into the parlor while her uncle takes a nap, she is surprised when she looks up and sees Stephan walking up the path from the river. He enters the house by a back door and places some music on the piano. He tells Maggie that he has rowed down the river so as to bring the music to Lucy. There is a lot of tension between Stephan and Maggie, though they say very little to one another. When it is time for Stephan to leave, he asks Maggie to walk to the...
(The entire section is 554 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 7 Summary
On a rainy day, Philip comes to visit at Lucy’s house. He feels some apprehension because this will be his first time to see Maggie since Tom forced him off the Tulliver property. Philip is not sure how Maggie will greet him. However, Philip is pleasantly surprised when Maggie puts out her hands to him and greets him with a smile and a few tears, which he believes are due to happiness. Maggie tells Philip that Tom has released her from her promise to not see him, so they are free to enjoy one another’s friendship.
Maggie relates some of the things she has been doing while staying with Lucy. She is enjoying a great holiday, she says, with Lucy acting as if she were her fairy godmother. During this exchange, Maggie wants to make it clear to Philip that they cannot be lovers. However, she does not know how to broach the topic. In the course of their conversation, Maggie alludes to the fact that she will be going away soon. She believes she must learn a trade so she can be independent. She does not want to rely on her brother, and she senses that she will never be married. She does not seem made to have that kind of happiness, she says. Philip tells her he believes she has fallen back on her willingness to deny herself any pleasure.
Philip is not there for very long before Stephan appears. When Stephan sees Philip, he chides his friend for having gone away without telling anyone where he was going or when he would be back. Philip explains that he has such little social life that he never thinks of telling others where he is going. After greeting Philip, Stephan turns to Maggie. The gestures and tone of voice Stephan and Maggie use with each other make Lucy wonder if something has gone wrong between them. Lucy remembers that Stephan has said Maggie is not his type of woman. Maggie has also said she thinks Stephan is conceited. Lucy sees that they seem irritated and wonders if they have grown tired of one another.
To break the tension, Lucy suggests that Philip and Stephan sing for them. She reminds them that Maggie has not heard them sing together. Maggie attempts to not pay attention to the music, but she cannot help herself. She notices that Philip sings a love song directed to her, which embarrasses her. She wishes she had been clearer about her feelings for him. She no longer believes they can be lovers, but it is obvious that Philip still thinks they can. More embarrassing, though, is the way Stephan looks...
(The entire section is 596 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 8 Summary
Lucy has informed Philip that Tom wants to regain ownership of the family mill. Knowing that this was Mr. Tulliver’s dying wish, Philip believes his efforts in returning the mill to Tom and Maggie will win him favor with the brother and sister. So Philip devises a plan.
First Philip invites his father to his painting studio. First Mr. Wakem looks at the many landscape pictures, commenting on the quality of his son’s art. Then in a far corner Mr. Wakem notices two portraits. One is a small drawing of a young girl. The other is a much larger piece of a young woman. He asks his son who the models are. Philip explains they are the same person, Maggie Tulliver.
Mr. Wakem’s face reddens as he turns to face his won. He wants to know if this means Philip has developed an acquaintance with Maggie. Philip admits that he has, and he adds that he saw a great deal of Maggie before Mr. Tulliver’s death. He also confesses that he loves her and shall love no other woman. He explains that Tom, Maggie’s brother, had insisted that they no longer see each other until just recently. However, even though Tom has allowed their friendship to continue, Philip does not see any future for them to be married, mostly because of what he has perceived to be his father’s disapproval.
Mr. Wakem’s first response is to berate Philip for his ingratitude for all the “indulgences” Philip has received all these years by falling for the daughter of his enemy. Philip counters by telling his father that he had thought his father had indulged him out of love, not from a desire for Philip to make repayment by sacrificing his chances of happiness.
Mr. Wakem reminds Philip how abusive Mr. Tulliver had been toward him. He adds that Tom, though more of a gentleman than his father, is not much better. He then relents a little. He states that Philip is old enough to make up his mind, though if he marries Maggie, he and Philip would have to go their separate ways. Philip points out that if his father refuses to have anything to do with him should he marry Maggie, he would have no way to make a living and provide for her. Philip tells his father that he has a power over him that other fathers do not have over their sons because Philip is physically incapable of being a man of business like other young men of his age. Philip is thus dependent on his father and requires his father’s approval. Philip then says that though Mr....
(The entire section is 601 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 9 Summary
All the well-dressed people of St. Ogg’s come to the town fair. Maggie enjoys a lot of flattering attention. Although she is obviously dressed in a plain, muslin, hand-me-down outfit, she is admired for her simple beauty and lack of adornment. Her manner is distinctive too; she puts on none of the artificial airs of her contemporaries.
Inside the town hall, many of the female citizens have set up tables to display their handicrafts and ware, which they are selling for charity. People from all around come to support their efforts as well as to see all the young ladies dressed in their finest garments.
Lucy and Stephan are there, and Lucy is enjoying the exclusive attention of her beau. She does notice, though, that Stephan appears to be purposefully ignoring Maggie. She urges Stephan to ask Maggie if she is hungry and to buy her something to eat. Stephan refuses, telling Lucy to ask Philip to do so. Lucy explains that though Philip is present at the fair, he does not like to be seen when so many people are in attendance. He is lounging somewhere in the more secluded rooms. Then Lucy looks over to Maggie’s table and is surprised to see Philip’s father approaching Maggie. Mr. Wakem speaks to Maggie briefly, buys one of the items at her table, and leaves.
After Wakem moves to another part of the room, Stephan wanders over to Maggie’s table and asks if he might bring her something to eat. Maggie refuses the offer and adds, “Pray, go away.” Stephan is surprised by this reaction, looks to the spot where Maggie is staring, and sees Philip sitting in a corner. For the first time, Stephan questions the depth of Maggie and Philip’s relationship. This prompts him to walk over to Philip. When he speaks to Philip, though they speak only in generalities, they both are aware of the tension between them. Maggie appears to be the center of that tension, though neither young man admits it.
After the fair, Maggie and Lucy have a few minutes together. They have been so busy lately that they have not had much time to talk. Now, for the first time, Maggie announces to her cousin that she will be leaving in a couple of days. She has applied and been accepted for a job as a tutor in a town along the coast. Lucy is angry that Maggie has kept this secret. Lucy also questions Maggie’s love for Philip. She tells Maggie that she has expected the two of them would marry. Maggie admits that she does love Philip...
(The entire section is 519 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 10 Summary
The night before she is to leave St. Ogg’s, Maggie attends a dance with Lucy. She mostly stands on the sidelines because she is not in a mood to dance. When men pursue her, she tells them she cannot dance. The only dance in which she is willing to participate is a lively country dance, which is finally played. She enjoys the vigorous steps although she is not very attracted to her partner, a young, insignificant male named Torry.
Stephan has not paid much attention to Maggie all night. Instead, he has put all his energies into Lucy. Eventually, he finds he is bored with Lucy and cannot wait until the dance he is sharing with her is over. He has noticed that some other young man has finally succeeded in getting Maggie to dance, and he finds he is jealously watching them and thinking about going over and intruding.
Maggie has also been ignoring Stephan; she believes she is free of him at last. She will be leaving the next day, and that will be the end of her tortured feelings. However, when she sees him walking toward her, she feels a significant excitement come over her. Rather than asking her to dance, Stephan suggests that they walk to a cooler, quieter room. He offers his arm, and again the emotional tension between them rises as they enter the conservatory. Stephan is all but overcome with his desire for Maggie. When they reach a point where they must stop walking and turn around, Stephan takes hold of Maggie’s hand and plants several kisses on her bare arm. Maggie is infuriated. She accuses Stephan of insulting her by his actions. She tells him she did not encourage this type of attention and wants him to leave her alone. When she returns to the dance room, she also feels angry with herself for having fallen prey to her hidden emotions. She is a traitor to Lucy, which shames her.
The next morning, Maggie has packed all her bags and is waiting for her mother. When Maggie hears a knock on the door, she fears it is Stephan. It is not. In front of her stands Philip. Maggie is happy to see Philip, and he is glad to see such a pleasant reaction to his presence. This motivates him to be frank. He asks her if she still has the same feelings for him that she once had. Maggie answers in the affirmative. She says her feelings for Philip will never cease, but she cannot marry him because in doing so she would lose her brother. Philip questions Maggie further, asking if that is the only thing that impedes their...
(The entire section is 482 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 11 Summary
Before moving to the coast to begin her new job, Maggie stays with her father’s sister, Mrs. Moss. Maggie is outside playing with her small cousins when Mrs. Moss calls out that someone is riding up the lane. Maggie looks up and recognizes Stephan riding fast toward the house on a tall bay horse. When her aunt asks who the man is, Maggie says he is her cousin Lucy’s intended.
As soon as he is near enough, Stephan jumps off his horse and asks to see Maggie in private because he has a very personal message to deliver. Then he asks Maggie to walk with him. Maggie recognizes an annoyed look on his face and wonders what is wrong.
Neither of them says a word until they are out into the lane. Finally Maggie turns and says there is no need for her to go any farther. She is uncomfortable having left her aunt so abruptly. She also does not trust herself in Stephan’s presence. Stephan acknowledges that she has a right to be angry with him for coming. He tempers this statement by adding that she is only concerned with her dignity; she does not have any empathy for his suffering. Stephan goes on to tell her that he is madly in love with her. It is the strongest passion that any man could feel. He is, of course, tormented because of Lucy’s claims on him, but if he had a choice, he would give Maggie his hand, his fortune, and his entire life. He apologizes for his actions of the previous night and claims that the only reason he has come today to see her is to make sure Maggie does not resent him for having been so forward as to kiss her at the dance.
Maggie’s tells Stephen that he should not say such things to her. She is sorry he is in pain, but she does not want to hear that he loves her. There is no use in his declaring his feelings for her. They must part, Maggie says.
Stephan cannot consider leaving her. He must know her true feelings. He will come back again if she does not tell him how she feels. Again Maggie emphasizes that there is no way the two of them could be together. She begs him to consider Lucy. Maggie admits that she, too, has ties. She considers herself engaged to Philip, at least in the sense that if she were to marry anyone it would be Philip.
Stephan says their engagements are to people they do not really love, which makes those relationships “unnatural.” If Maggie loves him as he loves her, they should be rid of everything else in the world and marry one another no...
(The entire section is 571 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 12 Summary
Maggie had previously planned a visit to her Aunt Pullet’s home before leaving for the coast to teach. In the meantime, many things have happened within the family, and so a celebration has been planned. The reason for the party involves the fortunate circumstances that have affected the Tullivers—in particular, the return of the family to the mill.
Lucy has come early so that she can have some undisturbed discussions with Maggie. She tells Maggie that she feels as if everything is finally working for the good of Maggie’s family. It was bad news to hear about the accidental death of “young Jetsome,” the man who had previously worked the mill for Mr. Wakem, but this occurrence has caused Wakem to turn over the old Tulliver homestead to the original owners even earlier than had previously been decided. Now the Tullivers can all live together again, and Maggie will not have to go away, Lucy points out. Even Aunt Pullet uses her wits to keep Maggie from “going into service” (taking a job). Aunt Pullet teases that she would not give any more gifts to Maggie if she were to go away. Even Mr. Glegg teases Maggie, suggesting that she must have at least a dozen male friends by now who would gladly marry her so she might not have to leave St. Ogg’s to go to work.
Maggie ignores the teasing when her brother, Tom, arrives. This is the first time she has seen Tom since the mill was restored to the family. Maggie continues to want Tom’s affection and hopes she has finally won his loyalty by refusing to marry Philip. However, Lucy has other ideas. She wants to talk to Tom in private to beg him to forgive the Wakems. Lucy believes that Maggie truly loves Philip and is refusing to marry him only because she does not want to lose her brother’s friendship. Lucy believes Tom’s heart will be more flexible now that he has the mill, so she takes this occasion to try to talk him into accepting Maggie’s marriage to Philip. Unfortunately, Lucy does not fully understand how deeply the bitterness is rooted in Tom’s heart.
Lucy is puzzled when she sees Tom’s expression change when she mentions the possibility that Philip and Maggie could be married. Even after Lucy mentions that Mr. Wakem is ready to receive Maggie as his daughter-in-law, Tom remains adamant that his sister should not marry Philip. Although Tom is well aware of his father’s ignorance and biases and has pursued a much more tolerant path of his...
(The entire section is 521 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 13 Summary
A few days later, while Maggie is still visiting her relatives and helping her brother and mother move back into the mill, Lucy notices that her cousin seems depressed. Lucy thinks this moodiness is caused by Tom’s refusal to sanction Maggie and Philip’s marriage and Maggie’s subsequent self-banishment to the coast. What Lucy does not understand is that Maggie feels tormented by her attraction to Stephan Guest, Lucy’s intended.
Maggie believes she is going through the worst emotional battle of her life. Sometimes selfishness overcomes her and she questions what is wrong with causing Philip and Lucy to suffer should she and Stephan become lovers. After all, Maggie has experienced much suffering in her life; maybe it is time for her to be rewarded with some happiness for a change. At other times, though, Maggie’s usual compassion for other people comes rushing upon her. She knows how dreadful pain can be and cannot wish it on others.
In the midst of her torment, Maggie sees Philip and Stephan but only in company, never alone. There is no opportunity for personal discussions. Meanwhile, Lucy plans a boating trip for the four of them. Then both Lucy and Philip are called away. This leaves only Maggie and Stephan to go on the planned excursion. Maggie senses the danger in being alone with Stephan in the boat and refuses to go. However, Stephan feels it is silly not to take advantage of the planned trip. “We shall not be long together,” Stephan tells her, and Maggie finally consents.
As Stephan rows the boat down the river, neither he nor Maggie has much to say to the other. Both of them are lost in thought and the peaceful feelings of their present surroundings. At one point, Stephan stops rowing and allows the boat to float on its own accord. This startles Maggie out of her reverie. When she looks around at the landscape, trying to locate an identifiable landmark, she notices that they have gone farther than they had intended. When Maggie comments on this fact, Stephan admits that they have gone a long way past where they were supposed to stop. This startles Maggie as she realizes how long it will take them to return home. She wonders what Lucy will think when they come home so late.
Stephan moves to sit next to Maggie. He suggests that they never go home again—that they continue their journey together until they are married. This statement astonishes Maggie and she begins to cry. Stephan...
(The entire section is 604 words.)
Book 6, Chapter 14 Summary
After spending the night on the deck of the boat, Maggie awakens from a dream in a dreadful mood. When Stephan opens his eyes, he can feel that something is wrong. He knows Maggie has changed her mind, and this alarms him. He realizes that he had not allowed her to make a decision the day before. He had, instead, forced her into a situation he had contrived. Because of this, he would not blame her for hating him.
Maggie does not feel anger toward Stephan. She is angry with herself for yet another example of her weaknesses. They sit in silence, holding hands, waiting for the fateful moment when the ship lands and they must choose which direction they will take. When Stephan does talk, his words express his hope. He implies that nothing has changed; the two of them will travel together and eventually get married. Maggie has decided against this plan but is not yet ready to tell Stephan. She is using all her energy to keep her resolve to not go forward with the fantasy of their being happy together in spite of all the pain their actions would cause for others.
When the port comes into view, Stephan attempts to reassure himself that all is right. He talks of the carriage he will lease. He thinks of how he will explain his marriage to his father. However, Maggie finally speaks the fateful words Stephan does not want to hear. She tells him that they shall not go on together. Stephan utters that he would die before he left her. If she does not come with him now, Stephan says, he will surely die. He continues to plead, telling Maggie that the worst of it is already done. They have been gone too long from home. Everyone will know what they had planned even if they do not go through with it. He apologizes for forcing her into the situation and adds that he will listen to her now. He will do whatever she wants him to do. Maggie reiterates that what is done is done. However, she will go no further. She must return home.
Stephan continues to implore Maggie to stay with him. He attempts to convince her that what they are doing is the most natural and best thing for everyone concerned. Maggie disagrees, saying that they have only rationalized their treachery. Stephan counters by reminding her that Philip and Lucy will now know that he and Maggie are in love. To marry Lucy or Philip now would be a lie. Maggie almost gives in to Stephan. However, she cannot ignore the knowledge of the negative feelings that their marriage would...
(The entire section is 470 words.)
Book 7, Chapter 1 Summary
Five days have passed since Maggie and Stephan left on their boating excursion. No one has heard from either of them. Bob Jakin, though, saw Maggie and Stephan at the port when they got off the ship. Now all speculation of Maggie and Stephan’s possible drowning has ceased, and Tom is extremely angry. At first Tom had thought that maybe Maggie and Stephan might have eloped. Later, though, Tom put this thought out of his mind. He knows his sister too well. Tom suspects that the worst will happen: she will return completely disgraced.
Tom is out in the yard when he looks up and sees Maggie walking toward the mill gate. When he recognizes her, he is filled with disgust and indignation. Maggie greets him by saying that she has come back home for refuge. She wants to tell him everything. Tom replies that she has no home with him. She has disgraced the family and her father’s name. She has been a curse to her closest friends. She has been deceitful, and he washes his hands of her forever. He considers that she no longer belongs to him.
Maggie tells Tom that she is not as guilty as he thinks. She has come back as soon as she could. Tom does not believe her. He accuses her of carrying on a secret affair with Stephan. Their Aunt Moss has said that Stephan came to call on Maggie. People in town have seen them together. Tom accuses Maggie of having used Philip as a screen to hide her real feelings for Stephan, thus betraying Lucy, who has been nothing but the nicest of friends. Lucy is sick with the thought of what Stephan and Maggie have done. Lucy does not even want to see her Aunt Tulliver, who reminds Lucy too much of Maggie.
Maggie is so crushed by Tom’s disgust for her that she begins to feel she is truly guilty of everything of which he has accused her. She begs forgiveness and wants his help in keeping her from doing wrong again. Tom says nothing is strong enough to keep Maggie from getting into trouble. He tells his sister that he loathes her character and her conduct. He will help her if she is in want, but he never wants to see her again.
Upon seeing her daughter and hearing her son’s words, Mrs. Tulliver rushes to Maggie and says she will go with her. Neither Maggie nor her mother knows where they will go, as they walk down the lane toward town. Maggie thinks of Bob Jakin’s house and the rooms he used to rent to Tom. When they approach Bob, he immediately takes the daughter and mother to...
(The entire section is 585 words.)
Book 7, Chapter 2 Summary
The townspeople of St. Ogg’s are quick to pass judgment on Maggie. She ran away with a man and then returned with no promise of marriage, no after-wedding trousseau, and no husband. The man can be forgiven but not the woman. She will be scarred for life, as long as she lives in St. Ogg’s. Had she at least returned home with Stephan Guest at her side, and they were husband and wife, all would eventually be forgotten. This, however, is not the case.
Since her return, Maggie has been focused on what happened between her and Stephan as well as her abandonment by her brother. Maggie has paid little attention to the gossip about her. She rarely goes outside of her room at Bob’s house, and when she does, she has little mental energy to spare to look around her.
However, one day when she is determined to speak to her pastor, Dr. Kenn, she steps outside of Bob’s house and finds she is uncommonly sensitive to the stares she receives. That is, some of the people stare at her while many others, people she has known all her life, actually turn away from her as she draws near. The worst is the way Torry greets her. Torry once had a serious crush on Maggie. On this day, Torry sees Maggie coming and bows cordially to her, the way he would have bowed to a barmaid. Although the treatment she receives causes Maggie much pain, this discomfort is only minimal in comparison to her own self-incrimination.
When she reaches the rectory, Maggie is immediately taken upstairs to meet with Dr. Kenn. The pastor had been very friendly and supportive of Maggie in the past. Maggie needs someone to talk to, and she hopes Dr. Kenn is still open to her.
Once she is seated, Maggie’s strength leaves her, and she cries when she begins to speak. Slowly she tells the pastor all the details of those fateful five days she spent with Stephan. The pastor listens very attentively. Then he tells her that he has read a letter Stephan sent to his father to explain the situation and to take full blame for what has happened. The pastor confirms that he would have believed Maggie’s story even without Stephan’s letter. However, he advises her to leave the town and try to start a new life somewhere else. The pastor states that though he lives by the Christian rules, not all the citizens of St. Ogg’s practice their religion in the same way. They are small-minded about Maggie’s situation and probably will never forgive her. When Maggie...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Book 7, Chapter 3 Summary
Maggie’s Aunt Glegg surprises the family. When Maggie disappeared, Aunt Glegg first thought that her niece had drowned. She became depressed and closed her shutters, refusing to go out. However, when Aunt Glegg learns from Tom that Maggie has come home and then hears what Tom said to Maggie, the old aunt is furious. No matter what someone in the family does, according to Aunt Glegg, family members must always stick together and support one another. Tom was awful, in Aunt Glegg’s mind, to refuse to shelter and love his sister. Aunt Glegg also argues with her husband for turning his complete sympathies toward Lucy. He has no compassion for Maggie and judges her as harshly as any other citizen of St. Ogg’s does.
When Aunt Glegg reads Stephan’s letter, she feels completely vindicated for her stance. The next time Tom comes to visit, she reprimands him again. This second confrontation is even more severe than the first. She blames Tom for not seeing who Maggie really is and how strong she was to return home after turning down Stephan’s plea to run away and marry him. Tom is too headstrong to change his mind. He tells his aunt that he cannot stand the thought of his sister and how she has damaged the family.
Aunt Glegg greets her sister warmly when Mrs. Tulliver visits her. The only thing Aunt Glegg holds against her is that she did not come to her for advice. Mrs. Glegg also asks her sister to tell Maggie that she should come by the house as soon as possible. When Maggie hears this, she is appreciative of her aunt’s benevolence. However, she is not ready to converse with family members yet. The only person she wants to see is Dr. Kenn.
Maggie would like to hear news about Philip, so she asks her mother to investigate. Mrs. Tulliver hears very little about the young man. The only thing she can confirm is that no doctor has called at the Wakem house, so Philip has not been made ill by the event.
A few days later, Bob comes into the house with a letter for Maggie from Philip. In the opening lines, Philip declares his full trust in Maggie. He does not believe that Maggie used him or acted deceitfully. He knows Maggie was as honest about her feelings as she could be. He feels he forced his own feelings on her and made her feel indebted to him. Philip also understands the power Stephan had over Maggie, and he admires Maggie’s strength to eventually turn away from Stephan. Philip realized that...
(The entire section is 544 words.)
Book 7, Chapter 4 Summary
Dr. Kenn has talked to almost every one of his parishioners in an attempt to find employment for Maggie. He cannot understand how everyone can be so unforgiving. No matter how hard he urges them, everyone argues against him. No one is willing to trust Maggie. No one believes the letter from Stephan. They are convinced that Maggie is guilty. If she were not, they say, would her brother turn her out? Would Maggie not go live with her aunt Glegg if she were innocent?
Finally Dr. Kenn comes to the last person who might offer Maggie a job and is turned down again. Then he realizes that since his wife died, he has needed a tutor for his young children. When he remembers this, he decides to offer the job to Maggie. It does not take long for a new round of town gossip to develop: Maggie must have bewitched the pastor, many of the townspeople conclude. She is pretty, and Dr. Kenn must enjoy having her around the house to look at. Then rumors spread that Maggie and Dr. Kenn have been seen walking through town together. Someone else hears that Dr. Kenn sits in the classroom as Maggie teaches his children. Then people spread rumors that Maggie and Dr. Kenn are getting married. Stephan’s sisters even write to their brother to tell him of this news.
In the meantime, Maggie is not paying attention to this talk. Her mind is recently focused on Lucy. She craves news about her cousin. She hears from her mother and her Aunt Glegg that Lucy is slowly recovering from the shock of having lost Stephan. However, Maggie wants to talk to Lucy in person. She wants to see her cousin for herself. The image of her cousin’s face has haunted her ever since she decided to come back home. Although Lucy is getting stronger, she is not often seen in public yet, so Maggie has very few opportunities to run into her. Maggie hears that Lucy is about to go out of town with Stephan’s sisters. There is even a rumor that Stephan is to meet them in Scarborough.
One night as Maggie is sitting alone in her room in the dark, she hears a knock on her door. When she looks up, she sees Lucy standing there. Maggie is so happy to see her cousin that she blurts out, “God bless you for coming, Lucy.” Then both girls begin to cry.
Lucy tells Maggie not to grieve. In turn, Maggie says that she did not mean to deceive Lucy. She never wanted to hurt her. Lucy understands this. Lucy adds that she knows Maggie is actually suffering more than any of...
(The entire section is 495 words.)
Book 7, Chapter 5 Summary
Maggie is alone in her room. She has a candle lit and is looking at a letter she received that day. The letter has added more gloom to her already depressed mood.
Earlier, Dr. Kenn had been forced to advise Maggie to leave town. He was losing parishioners because he employed her. The perceived scandal between Maggie and Dr. Kenn was threatening to destroy the pastor’s influence in his community. He had told her that she should go away just for a little time until the gossip cooled down. Maggie had agreed. She had no other choice; the decision was not really hers to make.
As she sits in her room, unable to sleep while everyone else in St. Ogg’s appears to have gone to bed, she wonders why she has been so cursed. She is willing to carry her cross, but she also contemplates the end of her life when she might finally find peace.
This letter adds to her misery. The letter is from Stephan. He has returned from Holland and implores her to come to him. He has tried everything in an attempt to forget her, but nothing has worked. He is miserable and knows his life will not improve until they are together again.
Maggie considers Stephan’s pleas. They are heartfelt. However, she also feels as if all her constraint and suffering in the past months have been in vain. Again she is tempted, this time with even more fervor. She is tired of it all. She is so young and healthy that she expects there is a long life ahead of her, but this is a dismal reflection as she wonders if her suffering will continue until she dies.
She burns Stephan’s letter. She does not want to reread it. She will answer him in the morning, once again refusing to give into the easy pleasure that his presence would allow. She is strong. She will endure without happiness. She then kneels down to pray.
After she is on her knees for a short while, she feels water soaking her clothes. The rains have been coming nonstop for weeks. People had talked about flooding, though not many thought it would come to pass. Maggie goes to the window and sees the river is lapping at the door. She awakens Bob and his wife, and they all leave the house in two separate boats. Maggie will head for the mill to rescue her mother and brother.
There is very little light because the sun has not risen. Maggie strains to see landmarks so she will know which way to row. The current in the river is strong, but eventually she recognizes...
(The entire section is 584 words.)