By David M. Byers
George Eliot takes the well-worn story of a beautiful dairy-maid seduced through a clumsy squire, and out if it creates a portrait of the lives of standard Midlands operating people – their labors and loves, their ideals, their speech.
This concise complement to George Eliot's Adam Bede is helping scholars comprehend the final constitution of the paintings, activities and motivations of the characters, and the social and cultural views of the author.
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Extra info for Adam Bede Notes (Cliffs Notes)
Although Arthur had not deliberately deceived her, he knew that Hetty, operating on her childish fantasies, expected marriage. Yet he could not undeceive her; he could not bear to give her that much pain. Thus the relationship is a web of misunderstanding, kindness, vanity, innocence, and passion. From such complex threads, Eliot implies, are all human relationships woven. Note Adam's intransigence with respect to Arthur; that pride which will not accept weakness in others is still controlling him.
Seth goes to visit Dinah on receiving the letter and proposes again; she turns him down because she does not feel the match would be according to God's will and because she doesn't feel she could love Seth perfectly. Hetty, on the other haul, seeks a marriage even though she has no affection for her proposed husband. " Eliot gives Hetty a trait which could almost be read as a symbol for the way in which the girl deals with the people around her: She hides things. Not only does she hide her thoughts and the truth about her relationship with Arthur, she hides her earrings, her locket, her pregnant condition, and, finally, her baby.
This would be more than enough to alert a Victorian audience that the relationship was sexual. It is a matter of convention. In 1859, it was strictly taboo to refer even indirectly to sex in a novel. Consequently, the information that Arthur's interest in Hetty is primarily physical and that his behavior has not been honorable, when coupled with the other facts mentioned above, would be shocking in itself and would make the reader think that something illicit was going on. What for us is indirect and subtle would be blunt and obvious to a Victorian reader.
Adam Bede Notes (Cliffs Notes) by David M. Byers