Adam Bede Study Guide

Adam Bede Study Guide

Original title:
Adam Bede

“Adam Bede” is a novel about rural life and the complicated and tangled relationships between the young people of the imaginary community of Hayslope. With the incredible brilliance the pastoral and heartwarming depiction of the life of countryside is connected with the harsh reality of it. George Eliot touches the almost tabooed themes of infanticide, unwanted pregnancy, social segregation and the impossibility to withstand the rigid social expectations - yet the novel doesn’t turn into one big moral lesson or condemnation. The characters are living and breathing people with their flaws and virtues, heroic deeds and fatal mistakes.

The life of the main character, the young carpenter named Adam Bede, is predestined to be as average as possible. He inherits the workshop of his father, is going to marry a beautiful girl from the neighborhood and start a family in the most pastoral way possible. But the sweet and peaceful picture turns into the tragedy of four souls, tormented with unrequited (or even mutual, but impossible to be accepted) feelings. We see the different ways the characters use to cope with their feelings: someone devotes themselves to religion, leaving no space for personal desires, someone is persistent in getting what they want and is ready to do anything for it, someone just runs away either in panic or after a carefully made decision, thinking that this is the best way.

The unwinding story is close to a tragedy, but Eliot still spares our hearts. Despite the critics’ opinion that the good ending negates all the moral lessons, learned by the characters, the author has no intent to play the ultimate judge and punish them for their sins. The life continues. The wounds are healing. Like in the natural cycle that is described so vividly in the story, the spring comes even after the harshest winter and everyone gets their chance to try and start the life anew.

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Quotes with Page Number Adam Bede by George Eliot

“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life--to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting...

Themes in Adam Bede

Beauty Eliot contrasts inner and outer beauty throughout the novel to express the idea that external and internal realities do not always correspond. Although Hetty is more physically beautiful than Dinah, she is cold and ugly inside. Hetty’s outer beauty masks her inner ugliness, especially...


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Bede’s Characterization of the Celts in Regards to the Spread of Christianity Religion has served as an influential guide for society throughout its entire existence. Western culture, especially, has been sculpted by the Christian religion, and Christianity has remained a widely practiced religion...

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