Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Book 3, Chapter 3

By George Eliot

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Book 3, Chapter 3

The Family Council

  • The aunts and uncles descend once again on the Tulliver house.
  • Mrs. Deane arrives first in a fancy carriage. Her husband is away on business.
  • The wealthy Mrs. Deane comforts Mrs. Tulliver with some useless platitudes, or meaningless sayings, like ‘tomorrow may be better.’
  • Mrs. Tulliver quickly begins talking up her household merchandise in the hopes that Mrs. Deane will buy some of it.
  • The Gleggs and Pullets arrive. Mrs. Pullet is crying. Mr. Glegg is in a good mood. Mrs. Glegg is in a bad mood. And Mr. Pullet is quiet. So, business as usual.
  • The aunts and uncles bicker as usual and we learn that the Pullets will only buy things from Mrs. Tulliver that they actually need or plan to use.
  • Mrs. Deane says she’ll buy some of the best things.
  • Mrs. Glegg basically tells Mrs. Tulliver to prepare to go live in the poor house and be completely broke. And Mr. Glegg says he’ll buy some stuff as long as it's useful to him. Nice to see that, in a family crisis, the aunts and uncles all think of themselves.
  • Mrs. Tulliver realizes that she forgot to send word to the Moss family about what happened.
  • Tom and Maggie come down and Mrs. Glegg quickly starts lecturing them about being humble and talks about what a disgrace it all is, while Mrs. Tulliver continues to try to sell her belongings to her family, as if she were on an infomercial.
  • Tom gets frustrated and asks the aunts and uncles to help out and prevent the disgrace from happening in the first place.
  • Mr. Glegg is pleased by Tom’s bold statement, but he, along with the others, points out that it won’t do any good to save the furniture when there are more severe debts, like the legal ones, to be considered. The furniture will be sold regardless, in other words.
  • Maggie finally has had enough and berates her aunts and uncles for behaving selfishly and for not helping them out at all.
  • The aunts and uncles respond by saying that Maggie will grow up to be no good.
  • Suddenly Mrs. Moss arrives to offer moral support.
  • Mrs. Moss lets it slip that she owes the Tullivers three hundred pounds and everyone freaks out.
  • Mr. Glegg is sympathetic to Mrs. Moss, but says that she really ought to pay back the money now.
  • Tom breaks in and objects to this, though. He says that his father didn’t want the Moss family to have to pay back the money and that Mr. Tulliver wanted to take care of his sister as best he could.
  • Though the others protest, Mr. Glegg agrees to help Tom destroy the note saying that the Moss family owes the Tullivers money. That way officials won’t come to collect the money after Mr. Tulliver is declared bankrupt, which seems likely.

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