Maggie unconditionally loves her father although he has been the unconscious root of many of her misfortunes. "Tom's and Maggie's young lives are blighted by the gloom, poverty, disgrace and death of their father...Maggie is obliged by her father's failure to leave school...It is the misfortune of a clever girl denied any activity other than domestic." (Ashton 50) In the time period of the setting of the novel, women were regarded as male property, to take care of household matters and without skill, originality and intelligence of a man. Mr. Tulliver cared deeply for his daughter's future but inadvertently oppressed Maggie through his views of women. This idea is represented in his dialog with Mr. Riley of Maggie's "unnatural" intelligence: "It's a pity but what she'd been then ladshe'd ha'been a match for the lawyers, she would. It's the wonderful'st thing." (Eliot 68) Mr. Tulliver by nature was stubborn, opinionated and led his family to disgrace as a result. However, there is a close bond between him and Maggie for which he had always protected her and favored her over Tom, as much as would permit in that age. Maggie always felt a responsibility to please her father and to never cause him any grievances. She was loyal to him at times that he seemed to not return her affection "How she wished that [her father] would stoke her head, or give her some sign that he was soothed by the sense that he had a daughter who loved him!" (Eliot 371) When her father was in the lowest point of self-ruin and was under the scrutiny of the family, Maggie took upon the position of the protector and loyally defended her protector. "Her father had always defended and excused her, and her loving remembrance of his tenderness was a force within her that would enable her to do or bear anything for his sake." (Eliot 284)
Maggie's brother, Tom, is the person of whom she was the most fond of. She turned the cheek on some of his unkind actions toward her in the realization of a strong, unbreakable bond. This excerpt from "Brother and Sister" (Ashton 90) portrays the type of relationship Maggie and Tom Tulliver have.
He was the elder and a little man
Of forty inches, bound to show no dread,
And I the girl that puppy-like now ran,
Now lagged behind my brother's larger tread.
"Every episode in the early chapters show Maggie's high hopes of pleasure being dashed by disagreements with Tom." (Ashton 75) "Tom indeed was of opinion that Maggie was a silly little thing: all girls were silly...still he was very fond of his sister and always meant to take care of her."...