Course Guidelines

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Adam Bede Group

"It is so very rarely that facts hit that nice medium required by
our own enlightened opinions and refined taste!" (238)


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 Four:
chps 17-22

1. chapter seventeen is an odd creature.  Rarely does the Victorian novelist arrest her/his narrative and directly instruct the reader in this way.  Exactly what lessons does George Eliot herself (she does refer to herself as the “clever novelist”) hope that her reader will imbibe?

2. do the narrator’s remonstrations in chapter seventeen suffice to inspire readerly interest in the relatively ordinary, common characters with whom we spend time in chapter eighteen?  Consider your attitude towards Mr. and Mrs. Poyser; the Poyser children Marty, Tommy, and Totty; Mrs. Lisbeth Bede, singer and shoemaker Joshua Rann, and Mr. Irwine.

3. does Mrs. Poyser hold a position of power within her family?

4. how does Lisbeth react to her husband’s funeral service?

5. does Adam Bede appear to know himself well?

6. what perceptual limitations does the narrator impose on her various characters?

7. does George Eliot’s narrator, who is obviously uncomfortable with the Calvinist doctrine of predestination--a doctrine also rejected by Wesleyan, Arminian-minded Methodists Seth and Dinah (Broadview 245 footnote #1)--ironically predetermine the actions of her own characters?  Do her characters, that is, have free will, or are their choices made for them by their predispositions and environments?

8. does chapter 20 generate more liking for Mrs. Poyser?

9. how does Adam misinterpret Hetty?

10. why does Adam not like Hetty’s placing a rose in her hair?

11. what does Hetty’s decision to briefly dress up like Dinah Morris (290-91)—as a reaction do Adam’s comment (285) tell us about her?

12. does all the heavy foreshadowing included by the narrator accord with her doctrine that characters are shaped by chance, personalities, and environments more than by individual choice? 

13. does Bartle Massey treat all of his students with equal patience?

14. why did Adam Bede not accept the money offered him by old Squire Donnithorne for the screen Adam made for Mrs. Donnithorne? 

15. is Bartle Massey’s misogyny comical or discomfiting?

"One of the Family" (1880)
Frederick George Cotman

Dr. Paul Marchbanks