Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Book 3, Chapter 1

By George Eliot

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Book 3, Chapter 1

What Had Happened at Home

  • We flashback to learn how Mr. Tulliver lost the lawsuit and became ill.
  • Mr. Tulliver was confident that he would win the lawsuit.
  • When he lost, Mr. Tulliver went into crisis mode, assessing his financial state, which was not good at all.
  • Mr. Tulliver owed a lot of people money and was going to have to borrow even more to pay the legal expenses and to somehow keep his mill.
  • We learn that Mr. Riley died and saddled his friend with a large debt due to a suretyship. A suretyship is basically a note saying that Mr. Riley is good for the money he borrowed and if, for some reason he can’t pay it, Mr. Tulliver will take care of it.
  • Despite his really awful financial situation, Mr. Tulliver won’t admit that anything is wrong to his wife. He tells her to send for Maggie.
  • Mr. Tulliver plans to see Mr. Furley, who owns the mortgage on the mill. He hopes Mr. Furley will buy the mill outright and keep Mr. Tulliver on as a tenant.
  • But then Mr. Tulliver gets a letter from his lawyer, telling him that Mr. Furley is having money problems, too, and turned over all his mortgages to Mr. Wakem.
  • Mr. Tulliver reads this letter while on his horse and promptly falls off in shock, badly injuring himself.
  • The doctor comes and says that Mr. Tulliver has had some sort of stroke. Mr. Tulliver has no idea what is going on and doesn’t remember the letter, which his family finds on him.
  • Maggie arrives home devastated and sits with her father all the time in his room. She decides that she needs to go fetch Tom.
  • We’re caught up to the present now. Tom swears that he will get revenge against Wakem one day and tells Maggie that she can no longer associate with Philip.

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