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Adam Bede Group

"After our subtlest analysis of the mental process, we must still say, as Dinah did,
that our highest thoughts and our best deeds are all given to us" (176-77).


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 Three:
chps 9-16

1. does GE’s narrator appear, amidst her reflections on Hetty, to believe that an individual’s nature/character is a malleable or a static quality?

2. the narrator makes what observations about the grieving process and the human psyche while painting a picture of the mourning Lisbeth Bede?

3. why is it significant that, in Adam’s dreams, the presence of Hetty is often succeeded by that of his mother (170)?  

4. does Dinah meet or defeat Lisbeth Bede’s expectations concerning herself (as a Methodist friend of Seth’s)?

5. we have already witnessed the narrator’s soft critique of ardent, Methodist faith, as well as the rustic superstition at play in Adam’s mind the night his father dies while he is (ironically) creating a coffin.  Does the narrator show any signs of relenting, and allowing for the possibility of the supernatural?

6. how does Dinah’s wisdom compare with Parson Irwine’s?  Does one religious figure do more good than the other?

7. what does Dinah suggest about the role that geography/environment plays in awareness of God?  Does this make intuitive sense?

8. note the narrator’s use of free indirect discourse in the third paragraph of chapter twelve, a literary device which takes us inside the mind of Arthur Donnithorne.  What is the prevailing tone of this passage?

9. consider too the narrator’s description of Arthur’s sudden change of heart regarding his plans for the afternoon (190).  What tone dominates this section?  Is the narrator implying that Arthur is a despicable hypocrite, merely an imperfect man like others of his sex, or something inbetween?

10. what does the narrator’s description of Arthur’s thoughts about Hetty suggest about the nature of the male mind and sexual desire (190-91, 196, 200, 201)? 

11. what lessons about Love does the text provide throughout today’s reading, as we move from character to character?

12. in what ways does chapter fourteen reestablish the clear differences between Hetty and her cousin Dinah?

13. what is the narrator’s attitude towards Hetty?  Towards Arthur?  Does she sympathize with each character’s state of mind?

14. do Adam and Arthur look at and think about Hetty Sorrel in the same way?

15. does the narrator wish us to read Hetty’s disinterest in young children, lambs, and chickens as a moral fault or something else (217)?

16. does the narrator’s description of Dinah’s religious devotion (220-22) and Dinah’s subsequent conversation with Hetty (222-24) suggest that Dinah is in gross error concerning the nature of reality, or that she is in touch with a part of reality neglected by others?  (A valid response will require close reading, so pour over this section at least twice.)

17. does the narrator wish us to think less of Adam for his instinctual deference to and respect for members of the upper class (226)? 

18. compare and contrast Adam’s and Parson Irwine’s notions about what consequences should follow one’s conscious decision to do something he has decided is wrong (228-29, 234-35).

19. what does Adam mean by the claim that “there's a difference between the things folks call wrong. I'm not for making a sin of every little fool's trick, or bit o' nonsense anybody may be let into, like some o' them dissenters” (229)?

20. does Parson Irwine’s response to Arthur’s claim that one can’t be blamed for yielding to one’s “moods” refute or support Arthur’s point of view (235)?


"The Glebe Farm" (1835)
John Constable

Dr. Paul Marchbanks