Fresh Look at George Eliot’s Adam Bede Analysis
Fresh Look at George Eliot’s Adam Bede Analysis
When the novel Adam Bede, readers are introduced to the titular character, a skilled carpenter at a workshop in Hayslope, Loamshire. Adam works alongside his brother as the foreman and is well-respected by his peers. The story begins with a conversation among the men at the workshop about religion, and we learn that Seth, Adam’s brother, has a romantic interest in a Methodist preacher named Dinah Morris. Despite his best efforts, however, Dinah rejects Seth’s proposal. Working tirelessly throughout the night, Adam finishes the job and delivers the coffin with Seth the next morning. On their way home, they come across their father’s drowned body. While Mr. Irwine is impressed with Dinah’s religious devotion, Arthur finds himself drawn to Hetty Sorrel, another of the Poysers’ nieces, and begins to flirt with her, much to her delight.
In this section of the novel, Mr. Irwine, the Anglican clergyman in the town, receives information from the parish clerk about the Methodists causing trouble in Hayslope. He, along with Arthur Donnithorne, the grandson and heir of a local landowner, goes to Hall Farm to meet Dinah, who is staying with her relatives, the Poysers. During their visit, Mr. Irwine engages Dinah in conversation and is struck by her earnestness and devotion to her faith. Meanwhile, Arthur takes an interest in Hetty Sorrel, one of the Poysers’ nieces, and flirts with her, to which she responds positively, feeling flattered by his attention.
After hearing about Thias Bede’s death, Mr. Irwine informs Dinah about the news and she pays a visit to Adam’s mother, Lisbeth, to offer her condolences. While Dinah is consoling Lisbeth, Arthur takes an interest in Hetty Sorrel, one of the Poysers’ nieces. He arranges to meet her in a grove on his manor’s grounds, where he confesses his attraction to her but later feels guilty about his behavior. He decides to confess to Mr. Irwine in the hopes of finding a cure for his passion. However, when he tries to do so the next morning, he loses his nerve and says nothing about Hetty. Meanwhile, Dinah offers her help to Hetty, but Hetty, who thinks that she will never need assistance, rejects the offer. The following day, Dinah departs for her home in Snowfield.
Adam and his Love for Hetty in George Eliot’s Adam Bede
As Adam begins to realize his love for Hetty, he visits her at Hall Farm and perceives her to be more friendly towards him. Unbeknownst to Adam, Hetty’s heart is already captured by Arthur. That same night, while visiting Bartle Massey, Adam learns of a job opportunity as the keeper of the Chase woods, which could improve his financial and emotional prospects with Hetty. Meanwhile, Arthur celebrates his twenty-first birthday with a grand gathering of the estate’s tenants. At the dance, Adam notices a locket on Hetty’s neck that appears to be a lover’s token, but he dismisses the idea that she is interested in another man. In reality, the locket is a gift from Arthur, and the two are secretly engaged in an affair.
The next day, Hetty reaches Stoniton, where she is recognized by someone who knows her from the area. She is arrested for child murder when the baby is found dead near where she had been resting. Hetty is imprisoned and put on trial, where she is found guilty and sentenced to death. Adam is sent for and rushes to her side, but she refuses to see him. In prison, Hetty writes letters to Arthur and Dinah, but she receives no response. Dinah arrives at Hetty’s cell on the morning of her execution, and after a touching conversation, Hetty is led away to be hanged. Adam, deeply affected by Hetty’s fate, turns to Dinah for comfort and finds solace in her steadfast faith.
As Hetty wanders towards Stonyshire, she becomes increasingly weak and disoriented. She collapses in a field, where she is discovered by a farmer who takes her to his home. There, she gives birth to a baby girl, but she is in a state of delirium and doesn’t realize what is happening. The farmer’s wife takes care of Hetty and the baby, but Hetty is consumed with guilt and shame over her situation. She believes that she has ruined her life and that her baby is a burden she cannot bear.
Meanwhile, Adam is preparing for his wedding to Hetty, unaware of her situation. He is filled with happiness and excitement, looking forward to a life of love and companionship with the woman he adores. However, his happiness is short-lived when he receives a letter from the farmer who has taken Hetty in. The letter informs Adam of Hetty’s condition and the birth of their child. Adam is devastated by the news and rushes to Hetty’s side.
When Adam arrives, he finds Hetty on her deathbed. She is weak and feverish, consumed by guilt and despair. Hetty begs Adam to forgive her and take care of their child, but Adam is filled with anger and bitterness. He cannot forgive Hetty for what she has done, and he blames her for destroying his dreams of happiness and love. In the end, Hetty dies, leaving Adam to care for their child and to grapple with his own feelings of loss and betrayal.
On the night following the trial, Dinah manages to gain access to Hetty’s cell. Hetty had refused to confess before, but Dinah is able to get her to admit her guilt and pray. The next morning, Adam comes to visit Hetty before her execution. Hetty is sentenced to execution but is ultimately granted a pardon by Arthur just as she is about to face her sentence. Instead, she is sent into exile by way of transportation. Adam and Arthur reconcile in the grove where they had previously fought, and Arthur decides to leave for the war after apologizing to Adam. Adam forgives him and the two shake hands.
Months later, Adam goes to Hall Farm to ask Dinah for help with his ailing mother. Dinah agrees to help and spends the night at their cottage, blushing when Adam speaks to her. Dinah, upon the proposal to her, states she feels a duty to continue her work among the poor and asks for time to think. Adam agrees to give her time, and Dinah leaves. The farm celebrates a successful harvest with a joyful supper.
After a month, Adam becomes anxious to know Dinah’s decision and travels to Snowfield to see her. Dinah accepts his proposal, and they marry after another month. Several years later, Dinah and Seth are at home with their two children when Adam returns from visiting Arthur, who has returned as a changed man after being away for a long time. Hetty has passed away, and the novel concludes with a sense of domestic happiness.
In the first chapter of “Adam Bede,” George Eliot sets the locale and establishes the atmosphere for the entire novel. The scene is set in Hayslope, a small, isolated town in the English countryside, inhabited mostly by merchants, farmers, and workers. Eliot portrays the town as a place where people concern themselves with practical matters like barns, harvests, and neighborhood gossip rather than with great events of the day. The town cannot be called an idyllic, with rough, crude people living there and further contributing to the sense of realism that Eliot seeks to create. Overall, the first chapter serves to establish the setting and tone of the novel, laying the groundwork for the events that will follow.
Characters Analysis in George Eliot’s Adam Bede
The characters introduced in this chapter do not fit the stereotype of virtuous country lads that often appear in English fiction. Later in the novel, it will be evident that the characters can be grouped into distinct categories. While Adam and Seth are well-developed characters, their fellow workers are presented only briefly. These background characters make the reader interested in the plot, but their words and actions do not have a significant impact on the story. To enhance the authenticity of the novel and reflect the language of ordinary people, the author has used dialect as a notable feature, which helps the reader to realize the following. To begin with, it adds to the novel’s authenticity by capturing the language used by ordinary people. What is more, it provides a source of humor, especially for Eliot’s English audience who found dialect speech amusing. The humorous effect of dialect is comparable to that in American literature, as seen in the works of Mark Twain. The humorous comment made by one of the characters, “y’ are a downright good-hearted chap, panels or no panels; an’ ye donna set up your bristles at every bit o’ fun, like some o’ your kin, as is mayhap cliverer,” indeed catches the attention of the readers.
The use of dialect in George Eliot’s Adam Bede
The use of dialect in the novel varies among characters, with some, such as Wiry Ben, using more extreme forms than others, like Adam and Seth. The latter do not employ pronunciations such as “aloon,” “agoo,” or “lave.” Eliot meticulously depicts her characters’ education levels through their language, an attention to detail that many writers neglect in their dialogues.
Regarding religious beliefs, Adam, who follows the Anglican faith, takes a pragmatic and straightforward approach to religion. He believes that performing everyday tasks that benefit others is just as religious as attending church. Adam’s view is focused on this world, and he strives to serve God through his daily actions.
Seth, on the other hand, takes a more otherworldly approach to religion, emphasizing the significance of specifically religious actions such as praying and listening to sermons. Eliot establishes this contrast between the two brothers with the intention of reconciling them later in the story to support her theme.
Novel’s moral dialogue
The novel’s moral dialogue is closely tied to the religious controversy that serves as its backdrop. During the 18th century, the formation of the Methodist Society by John and Charles Wesley caused a split from the established Anglican Church in 1739. These two denominations represented differing viewpoints, with Anglicanism emphasizing rationality, tolerance, and practicality towards spiritual matters. Methodists focused on converting and aiding the poor, which often resulted in the label of “agitators” being applied to them by the social establishment.
In Adam Bede, the author uses this divide to convey her own moral stance, as seen in the characters of Mr. Irwine, an Anglican, and Dinah Morris, a Methodist, who embody the novel’s moral standards. Eliot suggests that regardless of one’s denomination, a balance between the spiritual and the practical is crucial for genuine religious experience.
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