The seemingly peaceful country village of Hayslope is the setting for this ambitious first novel by George Eliot. Adam and Seth Bede work as carpenters in Hayslope. Seth proposes to Dinah Morris, a gifted Methodist preacher. However, she wants to devote herself to God's work. Meanwhile, Adam Bede woos Dinah's cousin Hetty Sorrel. But she is distracted by the attentions of Captain Arthur Donnithorne. When Adam finds out about Arthur's intentions toward Hetty, he fights Arthur and forces him to leave town.
Soon after, Adam proposes to Hetty, who accepts, only to discover she is pregnant with Arthur's child. She runs away to find Arthur, but discovers that his regiment has been called away. Distraught, Hetty restrains herself from suicide and gives birth in a lodging-house. She then runs off with the infant and buries it in the brush, where it dies. After she is convicted for child-murder, Arthur finally hears the news, and Hetty's commuted sentence (transportation) saves her from the gallows. Some months later, after Dinah comforts Adam during his mother's illness, Adam comes to realize that he loves Dinah. Although reluctant at first, Dinah eventually agrees to marry Adam.
Adam Bede addresses profound questions of morality, religion, and the role of women in society, while at the same time seeking to establish a new aesthetic for fiction.
In her first novel, Adam Bede, George Eliot displays the descriptive power and knack for characterization that she would later demonstrate in works like Silas Marner and Middlemarch.
The title character of this 1859 novel is a virtuous carpenter in rural England in love with Hetty Sorrel. When Hetty is seduced by a caddish young squire, a chain of events is set off that leads to a scandal.
In a posh British accent, David Case provides an urbane and crisp performance of this richly told story of love and forgiveness.
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- Erin K