Tracy 1 Jacqueline Tracy English 103 Professor Gelley 7 December 2010 Eliot’s Adam Bede: Lack of Reality George
Eliot’s Adam Bede involves a number of critical issues pertaining to the sense of an ending. Most importantly, by Chapter 48 we encounter a part of the novel that is unlike most modern novels that are read today. Throughout this chapter, Hetty has been reprieved for her sins due in large part to her relationship with Dinah. Without Dinah, the only ultimately praise-worthy character throughout the novel, Hetty would never have been able to reach any type of salvation, let alone a pardon from Arthur. In any sense, Hetty’s reprieve leaves a sour taste in ones mouth as we stray towards the ending of the novel. Adam ends up marrying Dinah, which we were aware of all along, while Arthur and Hetty are exiled. Eliot seems to try to make up for the irretrievable wrong that has ensued throughout the novel but leaves the reader with a sense of structural mismanagement. In accordance to Walter Benjamin’s “The Storyteller,” we seek to understand the novel from the point of view of those who lived during the era in which Eliot writes. Benjamin states: To write a novel is to take to the extreme that which in incommensurable in the representation of human existence. In the midst of life’s fullness, and through the representation of this fullness, the novel gives evidence of the profound perplexity of the living (146).
Tracy 2 While adhering to this understanding of the actual storytelling of Adam Bede. Eliot lacks believability. Dinah and Adam. we find that after the exiling of Hetty and Arthur. real life experiences in no way play out in such a manner. Really. allows for a bitterness to settle subtly on the pages of the novel. who is a ‘good’ character. Dinah remains to be a physically absent character. Though when we look to Levin’s “Romance and Realism. Though Dinah and Adam are the ‘good’ characters. we must turn to another critic to further examine Eliot’s ending in understanding this work and the modes of fiction associated with it.
. Though she is known as the secular and salvation-enhancing character. marry and eventually live ‘happily ever after. though this can be connected with a reader’s suspension of disbelief. and the exiling of Hetty and Arthur. we replay the situations of the novel and find that indeed. Until chapter 48. Knowingly. we are shown mostly of adultery-type actions of Hetty and Arthur. we undoubtedly are unable to fully grasp the way in which the latter parts of the novel play out. who were destined to be together.” we encounter a new shift in emphasis towards truth: The narrative as a whole should carry conviction. this was no fairytale. In attempting to conclude the novel in a type of salvation. but prose fiction can afford to take little on faith. is going to marry Hetty. knowing that Adam. Poetry may count upon a willing suspension of disbelieve. the selfish and sinful character. First.’ In such a case. Even as we reach the latter pages of the novel. the reader ought to find difficulty grasping the marriage of Dinah and Adam.
In what manner can we learn from a novel that contains aspects of sin and ends with the ultimate reprieve from every angle of the novel? In what world is a story of this natural totally plausible? Levin argues “Truth. or rather its apparent formlessness. In attempting to maintain secular ideals. and sympathetic being. is all too frequently the reader’s naïveté or the writer’s conventionality (26-7). loving. Eliot continues to keep secular ideals on the forefront. Adam Bede ought to maintain a type of conviction. he has become a more gentle. This mutual recognition should verify the documentary value of the novel. is calculated to prevail over fiction. The measure of acceptance. however. in some measure. again leaving a false reality for the reader. increasingly circumstantial and matter-of-fact. but the story itself. Though we dwell on this uncertainty of the reality Eliot has placed before us. but with the plot quickly diminishing after chapter 45.Tracy 3 The form of the novel. In any case. there remains speculation and we ought to have reservations to “confirm out reluctance to entrust ourselves to the minor fallacy” (27). which gets to look more and more fabulous and conventionalized as it recedes into the past”
. We learn that through the moments of crisis that Adam has confronted in his experience of ‘loving’ Hetty. While Eliot quickly tried to finish her story with a white picket fence. we begin to feel a great deal of uncertainty in not only the development of the characters. bases an implicit intimacy between the novelist and his reader on certain attitudes and reactions to life which they must both recognize and. As book five begins. Eliot pushes too hard for the happy ending of her novel. accept. we find a very unbelievable and upcoming ending. As said.
.) Though throughout Eliot’s novel. of course. This ‘miracle’ of continuing life for the villain. Epic. courtly.” (30). romance. and novel are the representatives of three successive estates and styles of life: military. Levin argues The art of story-telling. preserving an oral type of verse which may have antedated written prose. Though throughout Eliot’s novel. it was less fictitious than historical…An analysis of the third significant form of fiction. the novel. According to Levin “a more pragmatic outlook implies. should be no less dependent on continued cross-reference to the bourgeois age. we certainly dispel from any time of epic storytelling. we may encounter some typing of military. Adam Bede fails to maintain a sense of reality in an ending. and mercantile (32). we would hope to find that Hetty was indeed punished for the murdering of a child and Arthur’s exiling of himself in hope for compassion from God would go unheard. The fiction of the novel should serve by bringing out truth. so to say. During the novel. in its primitive attempts to express man’s sentiments and transmit memories.Tracy 4 (30. The epic. especially with the romance. but life nonetheless. While attempting to adhere to a secular stance. had been a legend of arms and the man…In comparison with later narratives. a disappearance of marvels and miracles . Both willing to leave into a life of exile.. . we find this conventionality completely lacking. . is life diminishing for those who have done no wrong. courtly. could hardly distinguish truth from fable. a more prosaic worldview. and mercantile. Having stated. we come across a bit of typing in relation to the bourgeois age. The punishment that each ensued was by choice of his and herself. and to our own state of social organization.
Without the divinity of a single character. but not
. sir. the novel lacks structure. In Eliot’s attempt to balance good and evil. These types are merely on the backburner of the novel. really. and as previously stated. Levin states that the novel must be mobile and literature must serve and keep up the pace with life. The lacking of any repercussions. that can’t be made up for. while sin stays completely present throughout. Characters that are encountered time and time again throughout the course of the novel cease to change or develop unless Dinah’s presence is physically felt. Should the secular nature of a novel be separated from that of a mythical nature? Eliot’s fifth book. The concluding of the novel in a type of fairytale ending dismisses any understanding of the story being apart of the real world in which we currently lead.Tracy 5 Eliot keeps her focus on secular morality. as the novel is undoubtedly outweighed in narration of evil and trickery. Dinah is almost completely absent throughout the entire novel until the end of book four. especially while keeping the majority of her narrative around the sinful and seduction of Hetty and Arthur. This can be compared to Levin’s understanding of romance and realism.” certainly remains true. Adam Bede lacks progression in accordance with the upcoming views of the bourgeoisie of Eliot’s era. “As a vehicle for individualism. of the characters loses any hopes of realism or reality for the novel. while forgiveness in a secular nature ultimately prevails. Adam’s statement “There’s a sort o’ damage. It is only in the presence of Dinah that we find any type of management. along with the Epilogue of Adam Bede completely leads the reader from any type of realism. she ultimately fails in doing so. it was free to concentrate on character with wider variety and richer detail than previous fiction” (36).
and speedy ending of “happily ever after.Tracy 6 only in the ideals of the associated characters. as the reprieve of said characters seems to rely too much on the secular values of a single character. It is the job of the novelist as well to try to maintain a clear essence of good and evil.
. Eliot as a ‘storyteller’ fails to succeed in giving the reader any type of relatable reality and reliance on characters as real people. over the over reliance on a single characters hopeful presence.” Eliot’s speedy recovery from the sinful ways of both Hetty and Arthur. remains to leave the reader feeling as though the novel merely was a piece of fiction in a lighter manner. along with the foolishness of Adam.
Tracy 7 Works Cited Benjamin. Oxford University Press: 1963.
. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: 2002. Harry. “The Gates of Horn: Romance and Realism.” New York. Print. “The Storyteller. Levin. Print.” London. Walter.