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Adam Bede Group

"The evil consequences that may lie folded in a single act of selfish indulgence,
is a thought so awful that it ought surely awaken some feeling
less presumptuous than a rash desire to punish" (468).


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 Six:
chps 32-42 [only bold-faced questions may be used as essay prompts]

1. on how many different levels is Mrs. Poyser challenging tradition in chp 32?

2. chp. 17 is not the only place in the story where the narrator pauses to directly address the reader and his/her likely reactions to characters and events. S/he does so repeatedly (bottom of p.368, top of p.406, etc.) Does this narratological practice succeed in involving you, the reader, more thoroughly in the story, or does it just interrupt the story's flow?

3. what tone does the narrator adopt in his/her reflection on "sensible men" the middle of p.406?

4. what attitude towards Christianity slowly arises from the narrator's commentary on human suffering (415)?

5. does Eliot finally succeed in making even Hetty--one whom the narrator calls "vain" every chance s/he gets--into a pitiable figure?

6. what purpose is served by the narrator's reflections on the symbolic value of the crucifixion at European crossroads (415)?

7. what is the central reason Hetty does not choose the option presented her by the pool next to the large oak tree (416)?

8. how does the male gaze of desire, which Hetty has hitherto appreciated, begin to haunt her in chapter thirty-six?

9. reconsider the narrator’s “Could she be the same Hetty that used to make up the butter . . .” passage (Broadview 428 middle).  How does this echo the narrator’s comments concerning Arthur on pages 368-69?

10. does Hetty's long journey succeed in wresting pity from us by chapter 37? The narrator claims that his/her "heart bleeds for [Hetty]" (438). Does ours, despite the fact that Hetty remains the possessor of a "hard unloving despairing soul" (438)?

1. how does Mr. Poyser respond to the news that Hetty has run from marriage with Adam and failed to seek out Dinah in Snowfield? 

2. what does Adam mean by the word “wicked” when he claims, “‘I can’t bear it . . . O God, it’s too hard to lay upon me—it’s to hard to think she’s wicked’” (456)?

3. which characters demonstrate the kind of pity encouraged by George Eliot and her narrator? Which fail to express any pity or sympathy?

4. Mr. Irwine tells Adam that “‘some fatal influence seems to have shut up [Hetty’s] heart against her fellow creatures . . . [that she] is very much changed’” (Broadview 467).  To what degree has this female character, first introduced to the reader in chapter seven, indeed changed?

5. whose argument (concerning Arthur) is more compelling/convincing, Mr. Irwine’s (468) or Adam’s (469)?

6. do Irwine’s words concerning the social ramifications of individual sin (469) counter or gel with his earlier comments about sympathy towards the sinner (468)?

"Birches by the Marsh" (c.1890)
James Edward Grace

Dr. Paul Marchbanks