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Like the other main characters of The Mill on the Floss, Mr. Tulliver is the victim of both his own character and the circumstances of his life. His personal pride and rashness causes his bankruptcy; yet there is a sense, especially in his illnesses, that Tulliver is also sheerly overwhelmed by the changing world around him. Tulliver is somewhat more intelligent than his wife—a point of pride and planning for him—yet he is still "puzzled" by the expanding economic world, as well as the complexities of language. The lifestyle to which Mr. Tulliver belongs—static, local, rural social networks and slow saving of money—is quickly giving way to a new class of venture capitalists, like Mr. Deane. Part of the tragedy of Tulliver's downfall is the tragedy of the loss of his way of life. Mr. Tulliver is one of the few models of unconditional love in the novel— his affection for Maggie and his sister, Mrs. Moss, are some of the few narrative bright spots of the first chapters. Yet Tulliver can also be stubborn and obsessively narrow-minded, and it is this that kills him when he cannot overcome his hatred of Wakem.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Mill on the Floss!