Summary and Analysis
Book 3: The Downfall: Chapter 1
When he learns that the suit is lost, Tulliver casts about for some way to avoid looking like a ruined man. He hopes to find someone to buy the mill and take him on as a tenant. "The really vexatious business" is that he has given a bill of sale on his household goods in order to raise the money to pay Mrs. Glegg. He thinks now that it might be best for his wife to go to the Pullets and ask them to advance him that much money.
Tulliver rides to St. Ogg's to see his lawyer about selling the mill. The lawyer is out, but Tulliver finds a note waiting for him. On the way home he reads it and finds that the mortgage on his property has been transferred. A half-hour later he is found lying insensible by the roadside.
Maggie is the first person Mr. Tulliver asks for when he becomes partly conscious. When she comes to him he recognizes her but falls unconscious again, except for moments when he "seemed to have a sort of infantine satisfaction in Maggie's near presence — such satisfaction as a baby has when it is returned to the nurse's lap."
Mrs. Tulliver sends for her sisters, who see the case as "a judgment . . . fallen on Mr. Tulliver, which it would be an impiety to counteract by too much kindness." Mrs. Tulliver wants Tom to come and seems to think more of him than of her husband. Maggie sets out to bring him home.
On the way home Tom ventures that Wakem is responsible, and vows to make him "feel for it."
This chapter is a slight flashback in time. The end of it brings us back to the end of the previous chapter.
Tulliver's ruin is partly the result of his rash actions, but it is also partly a result of his generosity. We find that he has paid debts for Riley, as well as having lent money to Moss. But the quick emotion which is the cause of his generosity is also the cause of his stroke. He reacts violently to the news that Wakem holds the mortgage on his property; but he is felled by an imaginary dragon, for Wakem holds no grudge against him, as we learn later.
The Dodsons never show quick emotion, nor ever any generosity. They see this as "a judgment . . . which it would be an impiety to counteract by too much kindness." Too much kindness is not a Dodson failing.