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Adam Bede Group

"there's the sperrit o' God in all things and all times--week-day as well as Sunday--and in the great works and inventions, and i' the figuring and the mechanics . . . and if a man does bits o' jobs out o' working hours . . . he's doing more good, and he's just as near to God, as if he was running after some preacher and a-praying and a-groaning" (66).


Responses to Path 2 prompts should deliver a structured, narrow argument in only 400-500 words, one you publish on Blackboard by 11:59 p.m. on Friday. Arguments should evince creativity and organization, support their claims with detailed evidence ( incl. page citations), and show signs of careful revision. Remember too that whether I happen to agree or not with your thesis matters little, as long as it is sufficiently supported and logically, persuasively rendered.

Some of the strongest essays will incorporate ideas from path 2 essays written by your peers and/or pertinent path 1 discussions and topics, though neither is required.

Week Two:
chps 1-8

1. why does Eliot introduce us to Adam Bede while he's in full-throated song?

2. is Adam Bede a simple hero, or a man of contradictions?  Can he be easily categorized?  Does he have any weaknesses?

3. the editor of the Broadview edition suggests that Eliot took the art of phrenology quite seriously (63, footnote).  Does the text of the novel suggest otherwise?

4. how does the narrator go about subtly satirizing Mr. Casson, the landlord of the Donnithorne Arms (and previous butler to the Donnithornes)? 

5. what essentializing comments, or generalizations, does the narrator make about the typical “rustic” of Hayslope?

6. why does Dinah wish to avoid marriage?

7. what generalizations does the narrator make about the Methodists Seth and Dinah?

8. what exactly is the narrator suggesting when s/he claims that intense romantic love is little different from religious feeling (96)?

9. what evidence do we find that Marianne Evans is trying to convince her readers that she is male, as her pseudonym “George Eliot” suggests?

10. are Seth’s soft proclamations about the efficacy of faith and prayer taken seriously by any characters other than Dinah Morris?

11. what observations has George Eliot’s narrator made thus far about human nature, particularly as concerns the movement of the mind and the question of motivation? Look for passages where the author plays the psychologist.

12. does this novel suggest the presence of the supernatural when Adam’s superstitious interpretation of the repeat tapping noise on the front door is proven correct, or does the novel write off this event as coincidence?

13. do you disagree yet with any of the editor’s footnotes?

14. is the novel consistent in its claim, sometimes voiced by the narrator, that we cannot accurately read character in one’s appearance?

15. how does the text go about subtly satirizing Joshua Rann, the village shoemaker and parish clerk who has come to Broxton to complain to Parson Adolphus Irwine about the Methodists in Hayslope?

16. we have already considered the attitude the narrator adopts towards her main characters, towards Adam Bede and his unwavering work ethic, and towards Dinah Morris and her earnest religious fervor. What of the narrator's posture towards the relaxed and flexible Rev. Adolphus Irwine?

17. if Parson Irwine is not a traditional, staunchly religious leader of Broxton parish, is he at least a speaker of truth and wisdom?  When he does actually step out and make a personal suggestion, is it a wise one?

18. does Dinah Morris’ religious belief sound hollow or sound when she goes about explaining it to either Mrs. Poyser or Parson Irwine in chapters 6 and 8?

19. according to the narrator, is Hetty’s rare type of beauty—which turns the heads of women as well as men—self-conscious or lacking in self-consciousness?  Innocent or knowledgeable?

20. in what ways do Mrs. Poyser’s nieces, Hetty Sorrel and Dinah Morris, provide foils for one another?

"Dinah Morris Preaching on Hayslope Green" (1861)
Edward H. Corbould

Dr. Paul Marchbanks