A lawyer of some renown, Mr. Tulkinghorn has an intense and incredible built-up knowledge not only about the law, but the esteemed family he serves and whose “father served them before me.” This is, in part, what drives his distaste for Lady Dedlock, a woman of no great birth and no reason for him to feel impressed, who treats him with dismissal and contempt—as if she were “superior” to him. He has a great capacity to rely on his own previous experiences, and human nature in general, when sussing out the truth about her secret—because, as he tells his assistant, certain people always do things in certain ways. It’s a slight inconsistency, a break in her emotional apathy, that first draws his attention to her, and from there, he doggedly pursues the truth about “Captain Nemo” and his association with Lady Dedlock, until he finds sufficient evidence to torture her with by holding it over her head. He is a driven and ambitious man, with elite clients, thousands of documents he has handled, scripted, gone over, and filed, and a detached manner. He is blunt and straightforward, assessing people and situations for their financial capabilities or logical potential. Others can find him secretive, dismissive and cold, due to his super private nature (he refuses to answer questions and never reveals his intentions until he has achieved what he set out to achieve). Tulkinghorn brushes off slights and insults, but also seems determined to “get even” by reducing Lady Dedlock to someone beneath his control. He points out all the logical ways she could harm her husband through the truth coming out, and then insists upon handling this, as he handles all their other affairs. Tulkinghorn’s largest oversight is his chronic inability to see other people’s instabilities and factor them into his decisions; it’s his callous dismissal and breech of promise to Lady Dedlock’s maid that winds up being his own undoing later, because he did not consider the potential fall-out of his mistreatment of her.

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Tulkinghorn is, at his worst, a bully who gets a kick out of dominating people. He has no reason other than a desire to “lord over” Lady Dedlock for tormenting her with his knowledge of the truth, but cannot stand the dismissive manner in which she treats him. He his widely disliked and feared because he is blunt, callous, and inconsiderate; he is aware of who has the power in a situation and angles for it to be him—and undoubtedly, it always is him, because he simply assumes a role of authority. His meanness to other people is, in fact, what gets him killed, because he has no intention of keeping his word and little awareness of how it makes others feel about him. His 9 wing is distant and untouched by other people and their troubles—he often uses them to his advantage, such as when he decides to foreclose on a man despite him having paid off part of his debt by bringing him a letter.