Summary and Analysis Book 3: The Downfall: Chapter 8



The land and mill are sold to Wakem, who proposes that Tulliver be retained as manager. This is regarded as a reasonable proposition by the aunts and uncles, although Tom protests against it. But when the time comes that Tulliver is able to move out of his room, he still knows nothing of this. Tom and Maggie and Luke go to his room to prepare him for the shock of finding that he is bankrupt. Mr. Tulliver is still planning a way out, but Tom tells him that everything is settled "for the present." Luke tries to show sympathy by saying that Tulliver would have paid everybody if he could. Tulliver then realizes he is ruined. When he calms down, he wishes to know what has happened, and Tom tells him that everything is sold. When Mr. Tulliver comes downstairs, the bareness of the rooms brings the fact home to him. He receives Tom's assurance that Moss's note was burnt and leafs through the family Bible thinking of the old times. When his wife comes in lamenting her condition, he promises to make amends any way he can. Tom tries to silence his mother, but she tells Mr. Tulliver that Wakem owns the mill and that she wants him to give in and be Wakem's manager. Tulliver says the world has been "too many" for him and wearily agrees.


The basic failure of the Dodsons is seen again to be their failure to consider the needs of individual men. Tulliver's hatred of Wakem is considered "but a feeling in Mr. Tulliver's mind, which, as neither aunts nor uncles shared it, was regarded as entirely unreasonable and childish." Tulliver's hatred is certainly unreasonable, but the consequences of it run far deeper than childishness. This his wife's relatives overlook. They still consider their own feelings. They do not wish to be embarrassed by "that too evident descent into pauperism which makes it annoying to respectable people to meet the degraded member of the family by the wayside." There are varieties of Dodsonism: Mr. Glegg and Mr. Deane are not so strict as Mrs. Glegg, but "they both of them thought Tulliver had done enough harm by his hot-tempered crotchets, and ought to put them out of the question when a livelihood was offered him." Theirs is a just opinion, but a hard one to impose on Tulliver. It only leads to further trouble with Wakem. Another variation of Dodsonism is Mrs. Tulliver's: she is totally self-concerned and does not bother to try to understand what it is all about. Her question is, "O dear, what have I done to deserve worse than other women?" Like Tom with Maggie, Mrs. Tulliver cannot and does not try to understand the depth of her husband's feelings.

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