A fine simile for a wife who after a good stretch of marriage, still presses all the wrong buttons with regards her husband; here she is likened to a gold-fish who continues to believe they are swimming in a straight line despite a life time of circling the fish bowl.
Mr. Tulliver, it should be said, is notably stubborn, for which he (and his family) pay a high price.
‘Mrs. Tulliver had lived thirteen years with her husband, yet she retained in all the freshness of her early married life a facility of saying things which drove him in the opposite direction to the one she desired. Some minds are wonderful for keeping their bloom in this way, as a patriarchal gold-fish apparently retains to the last its youthful illusion that it can swim in a straight line beyond the encircling glass.’
Source: George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), p. 78
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