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Adam Bede Group

"'The more knowledge a man has the better he'll do's work;
and feeling's a sort o' knowledge'" (546).


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 Seven:
chps 43-Epilogue

1. what about Hetty’s demeanor makes the court judge her more severely than her recent actions alone would dictate?

2. does Eliot’s narrator intend for the reader’s attitude towards Arthur to change dramatically over the course of chapter 44, or for us to feel sympathy from start to finish? Whatever the narrator’s intent, do you find your own feelings for Arthur changing across this chapter?

3. which plays a greater role in the process of repentance and grace explained by Dinah to a suffering Hetty, Hetty’s emotions or her thoughts?

4. does Arthur’s plan for lessening the evil consequences of his actions smack of arrogance or true repentance?

5. how many different ways does the narration in chapter forty-nine provoke the reader smile and laugh?

6. according to the narrator, what practical purpose is served by sorrow that lives in us for a long period of time?

7. what “manifold temptations” (530) are driving Dinah to leave the Hall Farm sooner rather than later?

8. how does Eliot go about undercutting the power of language—that medium on which her own artistic craft relies—in the close of chapter 50?

9. an old, resurrected question: does all the heavy foreshadowing included by the narrator undercut or actually increase dramatic tension?  Does this practice accord with his/her doctrine that characters are shaped by chance, personalities, and environments more than by individual choice?

10. do you consider plausible George Eliot’s notion that one can be on the brink of romantic passion without knowing it, that all one might need is a slight push to tumble head-over-heels in love?

11. does the following passage resonate with truth? "How is it that the poets have said so many fine things about our first love, so few about our later love? Are their first poems their best? or are not those the best which come from their fuller thought, their larger experience, their deeper-rooted affections?" (540).

12. how does the narrator set about demonstrating that romantic love is a holy thing?

13. why does the narrator so dislike the industrial innovations that have accelerated transportation and communication?

14. why does Eliot allot so much time to detailed the character and quirks of the Poysers' servants and farm hands (chp 53)? And why include an extended discussion of “Tom Saft” (552-55)?

15. Eliot returns to the subject of painting and realism—first broached in chapter seventeen, in chapter 53.  Consider the significance of her reflections at the bottom of page 554.

16. who wins the battle of wits and sexist slurs between Mrs. Poyser and Bartle Massey (561-62)?

17. why might Eliot insert the standing disagreement between Adam & Seth concerning the issue of women preaching (573)?

18. do you agree with Eliot's decision regarding Hetty's status at the novel's end?  Do this event and Arthur’s reflections on it (574) depress what otherwise seems to be a positive conclusion to the story?

19. for what various, historical reasons might Eliot have chosen this period (primarily 1799-1801) in which to set her tale?

20. in an essay entitled “Recent Novels: French and English,” published in Fraser’s Magazine in December 1847, George Eliot and future husband George Henry Lewes together praise “truth in the delineation of life and character” (577, Appendix A).  Does Eliot’s first full-length novel succeed in capturing the very breath and heartbeat of human experience?  Does she rise to her own high standards?

"Love Among the Ruins" (1894)
Edward Burne-Jones

Dr. Paul Marchbanks