George Eliot's Adam Bede (A Critical Analysis by Qaisar Iqbal Janjua)

November 7, 2017 | Author: Qaisar Iqbal Janjua | Category: George Eliot, Methodism, Adam Bede, John Wesley, Sin
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ADAM BEDE

George Eliot (1819-1880)

“George Eliot can follow the windings of motives, through the most tortuous labyrinths, for firmly grasped in her hand is always the central clue”. Robert Lowell

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By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

LIFE AND WORKS OF GEORGE ELIOT George Eliot (Mary Ann or Marian Evans) was born at Arbury farm in the parish of Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire, England, on November 22, 1819. Her father was agent for the Newdigate estates in Warwickshire and Derbyshire, and her mother was his second wife. Mary Ann, the youngest of five children, went to school in the neighbouring towns of Attleborough, Nuneaton, and Coventry, and early showed exceptional intellectual as well as musical ability. Though she left school at sixteen, she continued her studies, at times under visiting masters, until she became one of the most accomplished women of her time. A picture of her youth, substantially true though intentionally altered in details, is to be found in the early years of the heroine of “The Mill on the Floss.” In some respects, therefore, this book is to George Eliot what “David Copperfield” is to Dickens and “Pendennis” to Thackeray. From the time of her mother’s death in 1835 until her father’s in 1849 she kept house, and proved herself an excellent manager. In 1841 she and her father moved to Coventry where she came in contact with society of an intellectual type new in her experience. One result of this and of the everwidening range of her reading was the loss of the intense if somewhat narrow evangelical faith she had hitherto held; but she retained, and later exhibited in her novels, a sympathetic understanding of religious sentiments which she no longer shared. While still at Coventry she translated from the German Strauss’s “Life of Jesus,” published in 1846. On her father’s death she paid her first visit to the Continent, settling for some time at Geneva, and returned to make her home for a period with her friends, the Brays, at Coventry. An appointment as assistant editor of the “Westminster Review” took her to London in 1851, and while still occupying this position she translated Feuerbach’s “Essence of Christianity” (1854). Her work on the review was of a high quality, and the associations it brought led to her acquaintance with the leaders of progressive thought in England, such as Carlyle, Herbert Spencer, and Harriet Martineau. Among these was a brilliant and versatile writer George Henry Lewes, whose range of knowledge and conversational powers made him a notable figure in intellectual circles in London. He had been in business and had studied medicine; had lived much in France and Germany and was abreast of continental thought; had been upon the stage and had lectured on philosophy; had produced a play, two novels, and articles without number. 2

By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

He is best known now for his “Biographical History of Philosophy” and his “Life of Goethe.” Lewes was married, but his wife had given him what he considered grounds for considering his marriage void, though a legal divorce was not possible. Miss Evans shared Milton’s opinions on marriage, and at the cost of temporary social isolation she formed an unconventional relation with Lewes and regarded herself henceforth as his wife. The union, as far as the mutual relation of the parties was concerned, proved extremely happy. Lewes’ influence proved highly favourable to the discovery and development of the hitherto unsuspected talent of the novelist. It was at his suggestion that she, after a second visit to the Continent, began “Amos Barton,” which with “Janet’s Repentance” and “Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story” appeared in “Black-wood’s Magazine,” the three being published in book form in 1858 as “Scenes from Clerical Life,” by “George Eliot.” The pen name, by which today she is universally known, was formed from her husband’s first name, and “Eliot,” chosen as “a good, mouth-filling, easily pronounced word.” These stories, which in some respects she never surpassed, attracted only a moderate amount of attention, but competent judges, like Dickens, were enthusiastic. More general popularity was won by “Adam Bede” (1859), and her success, far beyond her expectations, gave her confidence and encouragement. “The Mill on the Floss,” followed in 1860 and “Silas Marner” in 1861, completing what is regarded as her first literary period, and establishing her securely in the first rank of the novelists of the time. The next period began with “Romola,” an elaborate picture of Florentine life in the Renaissance, the result of two visits to Italy and a vast amount of historical study. Opinion has always been divided as to the merits of this work, which, with all its richness of historical detail and its brilliancy as a picture of the time, fails to make its characters (with one exception) as convincing as the simpler English people of the earlier books. “Felix Holt, the Radical,” which deals with a political situation in England, was less successful; and for a time she turned to drama and verse-writing in “The Spanish Gypsy” and “The Legend of Jubal.” Her next book, however, “Middlemarch” (1872), showed a return of her greatest powers, and in its superb treatment of a whole section of English provincial life placed her with Tolstoi and Balzac. “Daniel Deronda,” which followed, has high distinction, but fails to show the same complete mastery, and has never been among her most popular books. 3

By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

The death of Lewes in 1878 proved an overwhelming shock, and George Eliot wrote no more. In 1880 she married Mr. J. W. Cross, a friend of some ten years’ standing, who had been a great support to her in her prostration; but though she seemed to regain strength for a time, she died on December 3 of the same year. George Eliot’s whole life and character were permeated by moral passion. Cut off from the usual outlets for religious emotion by the rationalism to which she adhered from the early years at Coventry, she poured out her whole soul at the shrine of duty, and her novels reveal an absorbing interest in the problems of conduct. The danger that they might become mere disguised tracts was averted by her clear-sightedness as to the method of art. She knew that her business as a writer of fiction was to paint pictures of life, not construct diagrams to demonstrate moral precepts. Occasionally, as in “Daniel Deronda,” she comes dangerously near allowing the human interest to be overshadowed by the “purpose,” but in her more successful books, especially those dealing with the English provincial life amidst which she had grown up, she achieves her moral aim by the legitimate method of enlarging the reader’s sympathies through enlisting them on behalf of a large number of real creations.

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By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

A CRITICISM ON “ADAM BEDE” “Adam Bede” is remarkable, not less for the unaffected Saxon style which upholds the graceful fabric of the narrative, and for the naturalness of its scenes and characters, so that the reader at once feels happy and at home among them, than for the general perception of those universal springs of action which control all society, the patient unfolding of those traits of humanity with which commonplace writers get out of temper and rudely dispense. The place and the people are of the simplest, and the language is of the simplest; and what happens from day to day, and from year to year, in the period of the action, might happen in any little village where the sun shines. We do not know where to look, in the whole range of contemporary fictitious literature, for pictures in which the sober and the brilliant tones of Nature blend with more exquisite harmony than in those which are set in every chapter of “Adam Bede.” Still life -- the harvest-field, the polished kitchens, the dairies with a concentrated cool smell of all that is nourishing and sweet, the green, the porches that have vines about them and are pleasant late in the afternoon, and deep woods thrilling with birds -- all these were never more vividly, and yet tenderly depicted. The characters are drawn with a free and impartial hand, and one of them is a creation for immortality. Mrs. Poyser is a woman with an incorrigible tongue, set firmly in opposition to the mandates of a heart the overflows of whose sympathy and love keep the circle of her influence in a state of continual irrigation. Her epigrams are aromatic, and she is strong in simile, but never ventures beyond her own depth into that of her author. “Adam Bede” is a thrilling read, though it may seem hard to believe given the unpromising setting and the stilted way Eliot introduces her story. But after the first few starchy chapters, abruptly, something wonderful happens: she gets wise to herself. It's as if you can see her realize that the upright characters she *thought* she was pinning her story on, dull Dinah and Mr. Irwin, aren't really the stuff of which fiction is made -- so she shoves them aside and takes up the flawed characters of her triangle, who resonate with possibility at every turn. Suddenly, miraculously, with almost no warning, all Eliot's amazing gifts as a writer take centre stage: Her psychological insight, her phenomenal wit, the dramatizing genius that allows her, effortlessly, to plot the most intimate narrative developments against the gigantic backdrop of a countywide feast or funeral, her 5

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fearlessness and surefootedness in picking her way (and ours) through the tangle of social and class relationships of an entire village. In this embarrassment of riches, may be most rewarding for a reader like me is Eliot's unerring ability to pay off her plots: here, ladies and gentlemen, is a writer who knows how to write the hell out of a climax-----George Eliot’s big confrontation scenes never, ever disappoint. Too, some wizardry seems to keep her narrative touch both incomparably delicate and completely unflinching at the same time. At the heart of ADAM BEDE is a story so sordid I wonder whether it could be broadcast on network TV today, and Eliot tells it without vulgarity but without ever shying away from its ugliness. My most serious criticism of the book is that Eliot didn’t quite trust herself enough not to tack an unconvincing (and, worse, uninteresting) happy ending onto her story. But the hair-raising drive of the middle two-thirds of the book is something you'll never forget.

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By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

MOST EXPECTED QUESTIONS Q: DISCUSS ELIOT’S PSYCHLOGICAL APPROACH IN “ADAM BEDE”? Q: ELIOT IS KNOWN AS A MODERN NOVELIST, WHAT ARE THE SIGNIFICANT TRAITS WHICH MAKE HER SO? Q: “ADAM BEDE” PRESENTS PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPOSURE OF HUMAN NATURE, ELABORATE? Ans: George Eliot has been considered among the last of Victorians but first in the modern novelists. There are many traits of her writings, which distinguish her from her fellow writers. Among these, one is her ‘psychological approach’ towards the story and characters. George Eliot’s “Adam Bede” is one of the best novels that deal with the subject of psychoanalysis. Though she was not an academic psychologist yet her approach is undoubtedly penetrating and psychological. In “Adam Bede” she has very beautifully presented the psychoanalysis of the characters of Arthur, Adam and Hetty. She analyses, their motives, impulses, mental processes, inner conflicts, their souls’ study, and development in their characters. Thus she discusses her characters’ inside out. The great psychological novelist analyses the motives, impulses and mental processes which move his characters to act in a particular way. Thus she ‘dissects’ the soul of her characters and brings out their inner struggle. As Robert Browning shows this struggle, in his dramatic monologues, in poetry, in the art of novel, Samuel Richardson, George Meredith along with George Eliot are the pioneers of psychological dissection. Eliot’s intellectual observation and reasoning are of par excellence. She is more interested in the inner drama of her characters than the outer actions. She moves in the depths of mind and heart and thus draws her characters inside out. Therefore, her major characters are not formed, like Dickens’ and Thackeray’s; rather they develop with the story, as a reader gets familiar with them. Her novels deal with “moral conflict” she goes into the obscure and mysterious depths of human nature and brings out the spiritual conflicts and moral disorders, which cause the run and downfall of an individual. All her tragedies are caused by some moral lapse and Eliot shows, how the slightest 7

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moral weakness, slowly brings the individual to bear his own fate within his own self. She expresses: “Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds”. Her power of psychoanalysis and her understanding of human mind and motives are clearly discernible in Adam Bede. The admired parts of the novel are those in which Eliot gives deep insight into her characters and brings their conflicts to light. For this reason, Adam Bede is regarded as one of the first psychological novels. There are certain glimpses of her observance, intellect and wisdom, scattered throughout the novel, in the form of sentences like: “When death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of but are severity”. George Eliot knows very well that “man is a strange combination of vice and virtue”. She searches the intensity and ratio of these two aspects in her characters. In some characters the “defect” arises from their virtue, as in the case of Arthur Donnithorne. He is a noble man, who wishes to be praised and admired for his gentleness, everywhere. He has a soft corner for beauty and Hetty’s innocent charm attracts him. His very fault is that, he tries to suppress and resist that temptation, which results only in its becoming more vigorous. Eliot has beautifully handled the struggle of Arthur’s mind and heart. She is particularly good in expressing how temptation triumphs. No other English novelist has shown such a picture of moral defeat, as Arthur’s gradual yielding to his passion for Hetty. A critic says: “George Eliot can follow the windings of motives, through the most tortuous labyrinths, for firmly grasped in her hand is always the central clue”. She detects various confusing and fighting elements in Arthur’s mind, such as; his genuine regret, his fear of disapproval and his false hope that in the end everything would be all right, at least with him things must always come right. Eliot says: “It is the favourite stratagem of our passions to sham a retreat and to turn sharp sound upon us at the moment we have made up our minds that the day is our own”. Thus, in exposing Arthur Donnithorne, she also exposes her reader. Eliot beautifully expresses the fact that an ordinary weak man cannot bear the acute stress and tension of realizing his sin. Hetty, no doubt, was an 8

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extraordinary charming beauty, yet she was an ordinary timid village girl, with her irrational dreams and longing for a life of aristocratic lady. She is safe and secure within her Hayslope world, but as soon as she leaves it, she is exposed to sufferings of shame and guilt. Her weak nerves refuse to bear this weight and she goes in suppression, withdraws to admit or deny her sin. Freud describes the same principle working in paranoids. When a weak man is introduced to extreme guilt, he eventually closes all the doors reaching to his mind and thought. George Eliot skilfully brings out the struggle of Hetty’s mind, her fear of sin and its consequences. The moments of her confession before Dinah are especially important. It is here when Eliot shows that how such a weak person longs for some sympathetic support and trusts in it. Eliot reveals another psychological reality that everyone either consciously or unconsciously, strives after the “ideal goodness”. Adam is shown good, but his goodness is not an “ideal one” for he has an intense feeling of his self-righteousness. “There is no despair as absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow”. Adam was in love with Hetty and thought that she could never be wrong. But when he comes to know about her faults and sufferings he feels genuine sympathy for her and suffers with her. His sufferings broaden his sympathy and kindness towards his fellowmen. Thus Eliot shows him reaching ideal goodness, through the power of love. Thus George Eliot’s psychological insight into human actions and her analysis of her characters make her novels a criticism of life. She thoroughly incarnates herself into her characters and brings their subconscious and even the unconscious to light. Modern novelists have adopted this ability from her. Eliot has a high conception of art, she regards novel as a serious medium to discuss the crucial and delicate matters of life. This approach makes her stand head and shoulders above other Victorians. Q: WHAT ARE THE MAJOR MORAL CONFLICTS IN “ADAM BEDE”, ELABORATE? Q: GEORGE ELIOT PRESENTS UNIVERSAL PHENOMENA, THAT MAN IS DIVIDED BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE, EXPLAIN? Ans: 9

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George Eliot believes in “art for morality’s sake”. She feels that a piece of art must exercise an ethical influence on readers. That’s why all of her novels are “dramas of moral conflict”. Her moral conception can be defined as: “Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds”. To Eliot, if someone breaks the moral laws, either consciously or unconsciously, the consequent sufferings and punishment are bound to come. “Adam Bede” also presents a moral conflict aroused by failure, to resist temptation, of both the characters of Hetty and Arthur. Both of them are creatures of “weak moral fibres”, and this weakness invites the intensive tragedy into the story. Thus, Arthur –Hetty story shows: “The movement from weakness to sin and from sin to nemesis” Eliot does not draw her characters as tempestuous or villainous, but it is always a slight error of judgment or a desire of a character or some weakness, which brings the downfall. Hetty is also drawn simply as a village girl, with her girlish dreams of leading an “aristocratic life” with her prince charming. In the beginning, she is leading a “protected” and contented life at her uncle’s farm, unaware of the hardships and difficulties of man in the outer world. But she is vain and frivolous, loves finery and always lost in her fantasy world. Adam Bede, an honest, hard working but poor man, who cannot provide her the “luxuries of life”, loves her. That’s why when Arthur casts admiring glances on Hetty she does not care for Adam and feels that her dreams of splendid life come true, for Arthur is a squire’s son with a huge fortune. As Eliot remarks: “(Arthur’s) … bright soft glance had penetrated her, and suffused her life with a strange happy languor”. Through his attention, Hetty becomes “thoroughly aware of her own beauty”, and not considering the “social and economic gap” between Arthur and herself; She presumes that she can lead her desired life, after marrying Arthur. This is the very flaw and weakness of her character, which leads her to the sin and the consequent sufferings. She and Arthur meet in the woods, until one day Adam, who forces Arthur to put an end to his contact with Hetty, observes them. Thus, there is an abrupt ending to their relationship. This is the time when Hetty’s 10

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sufferings begin and all her dreams and fancies, to lead a splendid life, scatter. Here Eliot beautifully exclaims: “There is no despair as absolute as that which cones with the first moments of our first great sorrow”. Hetty’s desperation becomes acute, when she realizes that she is pregnant and that the marriage with Adam is “out of question”. Torn out by depressive and torturing thoughts, she comes out of her sheltered world and there starts her “physical sufferings”. She reaches Windsor, in search of Arthur but for it is good for nothing. While returning back to Stoniton, she gives birth to a mail child prematurely. Next evening half ashamed by abandoning the child but, naturally, being a mother, fails to stop the haunting cries of baby that follows her, she returns to the child but too late. This is the point, when Eliot beautifully describes the condition of a weak person, experiences social condemnation. As Hetty has no “guiding principle” to follow, though she attended the church, regularly, but could not absorb a single Christian idea or feeling. Therefore, when she faces “public disgrace” of her trial, Hetty “shut her heart against her fellow --Creatures”. She is sentenced to death, for the crime of child murder. Later her punishment is reduces to transportation by the efforts of Arthur. Thus Hetty “pays full price of her unthinking folly”. It is, but to tell half the story, with an account of Hetty’s weakness and its consequences, for Arthur is also responsible for her tragedy as well as his own, rather he holds a much greater responsibility. As Arthur James points out: “A weak woman is indeed weaker than a weak man”. Arthur Donnithorne is a young, squire’s son, with high and noble ambitions and innate desire to do “good to everyone”. He is naturally good and king hearted man and his flaw lies in his goodness and his lack of control of his emotions. He is an “admirer of beauty” and when beauty comes in front of him in the form of Hetty, he cannot have power over himself from being tempted by that beauty. Getting conscious of his sentimental state, he tries to forget Hetty, but it results only in the more intensified thoughts of her. It can be seen when he blames Mr. Irwine for his feelings”. “If Irwine had said nothing, I should not have thought half so much of Hetty’s as of Meg’s lameness”. 11

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If Eliot has not given the “insight to his mind and thoughts” it would have been very hard to differentiate Arthur from a perfect villain, for he treats Hetty as a “juicy morsel” to satisfy his lust. It is Eliot’s “art of X-ray”, which makes her different from her contemporary writers. Arthur does hectic efforts to overcome his passion to meet, even to see Hetty, only because he is “naturally noble” and does not want to be a part of any scandal. But all his efforts prove in vain, when he finally reaches the woods to see her. Eliot comments: “It is the favourite stratagem of our passions to sham a retreat, and to turn sharply round upon us, at the moment we have made up our mind that the day is our own”. Thus, through Arthur, the author brings to light the psychological fact that the more he tries to suppress a passion, the more it grows stronger and fierce. The moral weakness in yielding to temptation, results in the devastating tragedy. Arthur also suffers from deep spiritual anguish. He tries his best to make amends and reduces the intensity of the catastrophe, which he had inflicted on himself, on Hetty, on Poysers and on Adam but could not save Hetty from transportation. However, by going away for several years, Arthur makes it possible for Adam and Poysers to remain at Hayslop. Thus, he “Drinks the bitter cup of repentance to the full”. In short, the novel is a study in “moral weakness and its terrible consequences”. It seems that Eliot does not spare even the slightest “moral lapse” in her characters, and through their sufferings, gives definite “moral lesson”. “There is a sort of wrong that can never be made up for”. Q: DISCUSS GEORGE ELIOT AS MORALIST? Q: “ADAM BEDE” IS DRAMATISATION OF ULTIMATE BEST IN MAN, WHAT IS YOUR OPINION? Q: ADAM BEDE LEARNS THROUGH PAINS, HIS KNOWLEDGE OF SUFFERINGS MAKES HIM THE MAN OF HIGH STANDING, DO YOU AGREE? Ans: In her youth, George Eliot came in contact with the intellectual figures of her age. When her vision widened, she lost faith in Orthodox Christianity, and after that she could not believe in the supernatural concepts and immortality of human soul, throughout her life. For this reason, she has been accused of being agnostic and atheist. But she never appears as an atheist in 12

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her stories, only her approach to religion is intellectual. She could not believe in the dogmatic parts of religion, but she had faith in its ethical preaching. She was concerned only with the moral aspects of religion. Her standards of right and wrong were exactly those of the puritans. Like Bronte she believed in the spirituality of life, but her spiritual values were based on human values, not on Bible. She believed that anyone leading a virtuous life enjoys real happiness and is essentially contented with life. There is also a sort of poetic justice in her novels for she thought: “Even the slightest slip will be visited on us”. Some critics have claimed that George Eliot could not be a moralist, for she herself was immoral in her life that she had been living with Lewis without marriage. But if we consider through the view of human values, she did not commit any immoral act. Lewis’ wife had left him, and George Eliot wanted to console him and second marriage is not allowed in Christianity. Like Fielding, Eliot also wrote with a definite purpose, which was to “inject the moral” into the people. However, her concept of morality was quite different from that of Fielding. In fact, she wanted to vex or reshape the consciousness of the individuals, to reform the whole society. For this reason, she used her novels as a platform for moral preaching. She drew her characters “inside out”, giving us a psychological insight in them, thus making them more life like and acceptable and then through their sufferings and experiences taught her morality. A synopsis of her moral beliefs is given in the following: “Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds”. George Eliot attacks self-dominance in her novels. Egoism is at the centre of all her novels. She describes how an egoistic self creates problems for himself as well as for others. In “Adam Bede”, she strikes at the feudal egoism in the character of Arthur. He wanted to overcome his flaw, but it was an inborn quality, which brought the catastrophe in the novel. George Eliot stresses on the balance between the interests of the self and that of the “other slaves”. She thinks that no one can be moral, unless he redeems from the prison of the self. However, to her, regeneration is a Herculean task. She wants people to look upon the sufferings of people around them and pity them. She feels that even the weakest person has something to be admired and no one can reach the ultimate happiness, unless he maintains content relationship with human beings. 13

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She believes that sufferings are essential for the development of personality, because sufferings mould a man. These are a kind of blessings for life. Through the medium of sufferings, an egoistic self passes and matures. She shows her characters suffer and learn a lot. Adam’s sympathies are widened through his sufferings and his feeling of self-righteousness gradually lessens. Hetty also regenerates and matures through her sufferings. She wants people to maintain emotional self-control. Passions should always be under the control of reason, for sentimentality destroys man, and brings the downfall. In “Adam Bede”, Arthur’s and Hetty’s sentimentality brought their tragedy and to which there was no remedy. In her stories, Eliot extensively lays stress on absoluteness of duty. To her, one should never compromise on duty at any cost. Hetty does not care for her duty towards her uncle and aunt, and in her vanity goes far away, that’s why she suffers. Eliot thinks that endurance and renunciation are necessary for happy and successful life. Adam remains unsatisfied, when he is rash and intolerant but becomes calm and peaceful when he regenerates through his sufferings and learns to endure others. Dinah is also a symbol of endurance and patience. Mathew Arnold declares conduct as three-fourths of life while Eliot pronounces it as four-fourths. That’s why she emphasizes that one should control one’s evil passions, for activities determine our whole future life. Eliot believes in ‘free will’ as well. She thinks that everyone’s character is in one’s own hands to mould it towards right or wrong and one should use one’s all powers to direct it in the right direction. She believes in the intrinsic and initial value of personality. According to her, one cannot deny the inborn qualities of a personality and that a fullygrown up personality is highly valuable, but it grows with sufferings and experience. The ultimate object of all the religions is to develop the personalities of the individuals on the right lines and to the maximum. So religion is ultimate teaching for the highest development of a personality. Her characters learn a lot during the course of a story and grow into fully developed personalities. Hetty is a girl, full of vanity and impulsiveness whereas Adam is a self-righteous man, but with the course of time both of them grows in mature and sensible human beings. There is another conflict between ‘duty’ and ‘desire’ in her novels. One should obey one’s duty and suppress ones desire at any cost. If one moves 14

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under the influence of desire, one has to be ruined. That’s what Arthur experiences. Eliot’s serious characters are deeply confused in their moral aspects. She penetrates beneath the surface and draws the portraits of the inner of the man, the principles of his conduct –his besetting sin –”his presiding virtue”. Eliot believes in the justice in life. According to her, virtuous people live an essentially contented life. And a sinner or an immoral man, however wealthy and lucky he might be, is sure to meet his doom. She is sure that one can’t escape from the consequences of one’s own actions. Even the smallest sin will have its punishment, though not immediately, yet in times to come i.e. in future life –as Hetty Arthur both are punished, because of their notions. She preached the ‘religion of morality’. However, her approach to moralization was aesthetic and not conservative. She linked ethics with aesthetics. Ethics was, in fact, the driving force of her novel. Thus, we can conclude that Eliot was definitely a moralist like Foster or any other novelist. She was thorough –going “Victorian Rationalist” and her novel were a “criticism of life”. Q: DISCUSS GEORGE ELIOT’S REALISM? Q: WHAT ARE THE BIOGRAPHICAL ELEMENTS IN “ADAM BEDE”? Ans: George Eliot has been considered as an intellectual novelist. Realism is a necessity for every intellectual novelist, however in Eliot’s case; it is a creed and ambition. Her realism is constant and systematic. She declares her stories as “a criticism of life”; hence to criticize it, she draws her story on actual pattern of life. She creates her own microcosm and deals every thing; the background scenes, feelings, and thoughts of her characters, with devoted and sincere truthfulness. Whereas, such truthfulness is missing in Dickens and Faulkner rather there is an air of artificiality in their works. Eliot says: “Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult”. But this is the other way round with her, as for a waiter of Eliot’s intellect; it is very difficult to create falsehood. Almost all of the backgrounds of her stories arise from her early childhood memories of the Warwickshire countryside. For this reason she says that her novels are her “experiences in life”. Though there is a great 15

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contribution and blend of imagination, yet her descriptions have a warmth and colour of memory. Eliot is a ‘retrospective writer’. she takes even her pre-birth times, to see her story within it, but she does it with unmoved and strong command. In “Adam Bede” the events of the story take place in 1799 i.e. about half a century before it is written, yet George Eliot shows such a clear picture in retrospect, that to many older people it reminds the era of their early years or youth. Hayslope world is as true as any village in England. Here again she uses her early memories. A critic has remarked. “We do not know if our literature anywhere possesses such a closely true picture of purely rural life as “Adam Bede” presents”. Eliot usually draws her characters, from the original acquaintances of her life. In the concerning novel also, she describes that Dinah Morris, the preacher woman, is a pen portrait of her own Methodist aunt, Mrs. Samuel Evans, though not in her softness and beauty, yet at least the main idea of Dinah’s character is taken from her aunt. Even the main theme of the story, i.e. confession and execution of a woman, on murdering her child, is taken from an account of a similar incident by Eliot’s same Aunt. Thus she tries to make it more real, by using original story. It is said that her character of Adam, resembles Eliot’s father, very closely. Eliot accepts it. “We were sitting together, when it occurred to my aunt to tell me how she had visited a condemned criminal –I than conceived the idea of blending this and some other recollections of my aunt in one story with some points of my father’s early life and character.” Her power of observation goes hand in hand with her memory and imagination. It is her deep observation of people’s behaviour, in daily life, which makes her character more close to reality. She expresses in “Adam Bede”, “I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make things seem better than they are”. Mrs. Poyser represents true wit and humour of a pure countrywoman of that time. Her creator, with her shrewd tongue and kind heart, puts her to life. Her occasional scolding of her servants and Hetty and at the same time, her deep concern for them and her family all are realistic. It is said that Mrs. Poyser holds some characteristics of Eliot’s mother. Eliot portrays with insight and convincing truth Hetty’s physical charms and her shallow, pleasure–loving, heartless nature, without any bad 16

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intention, but also without any strength to resist temptation. She is considered as the “most successful” of all Eliot’s heroines. Eliot is acquainted with the “psychology of utilitarian”. Arthur expresses all the temperaments of a feudal. He is eager to be in good fame, but cannot resist temptation. Through him, Eliot bitterly satirizes the general behaviour and customs of landlords. Eliot also depicts the ‘psychological realism’ in her novels. She has a deep insight into human nature and she unveils its weakness. Her stories define a certain ‘moral conflict’ of human life; the conflict of duty and desire, of heart and head, of mind and soul. The ‘inner world of her characters’ is more important to her than the outer one. She ‘thoroughly incarnates’ herself into her characters and brings the inner depths to the surface. To her: “Character too is a process… like those people who are practical and realist”. She mentions that a character is himself responsible for his tragedy. “Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds”. George Eliot believes in ‘free-will’, in “Adam Bede”, there is a conflict between ‘intention’ and ‘disposition’. Both, Hetty and Arthur, lack the desired strength of mind to resist temptation and this weakness brings the catastrophe in the story. Eliot, skilfully, penetrates to the inner-self of her character and thus, she exposes her character, her reader is also exposed. Her keen observation of human nature is also visible in the minor incidents of the novel. For instance, man’s natural selfishness is revealed through various characters. As, when Hetty resolves to forgive Arthur, it is also for the sake of her own salvation. She says: “But Dinah says I should forgive him and I try, for else God won’t forgive me”. Another example of Eliot’s intellect and insight in human nature is shown in the marriage of Adam with Dinah. It expresses man’s natural instinct to escape from pain and sufferings, and that every passion loses its intensity with the passage of time: “But no story is the same to us after a lapse of time”. Eliot’s writings also express her philosophical approach to life. She brings our certain bitter realities to top. “Adam Bede” has also certain 17

By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

glimpses of this touch. She observes the wearied and tiresome routine of life and exclaims: “Leisure is gone –gone where the spinning wheels are gone. Even idleness is eager now –eager for amusement”. She observes the nature of human passions, and appears thus: “There is a wonderful amount of sustenance in the first few words of love”. There are innumerable examples of such wisdom in Eliot’s words. Yet in the presence of so much reality, Eliot has been criticized on grounds of exaggerating in some cases. An argument is raised, that she has made Hetty’s sufferings prolonged and acute and that she does not deserve such extremely harsh treatment. The reason might be so, that being a moralist, Eliot could not spare even the slightest moral lapse in her female characters. A critic has expressed: “She could not, one feels, forgive sexual passion”. Another objection is that, she has made Adam Dinah “too good to be true”. Their excessive goodness makes them unreal. As far as Adam is concerned, one might say, Eliot stresses on his goodness for a definite purpose of his “regeneration”. Whereas, in case of Dinah, it appears that she wants to reject the common set notion of her time, that all moralists’ men and women are mere “temptresses”. As Bartle Massey speaks for her: “If there must be women to make trouble in the world its but fair there, should be women to be comforters under it”. In the long run, George Eliot’s wisdom, intellect and imagination do not go far from reality and her insight into human nature, brings the very truth about ourselves, in front of us. It is her trait, which differs her from other Victorians and makes her first, in the queue of modern novelists. Q: WHAT IS METHODISM? IS “ADAM BEDE” A PROPAGATION OF THIS RELIGIOUS PHENOMENON? Ans: Methodism may be defined as “a movement of reaction against the apathy of the church of England that prevailed in the early part of ht eighteenth country”. John Wesley, who was a student at oxford and took holy orders in 1725, founded the Methodist Movement. The Methodist society was formed in 1729 when a few young men at oxford came together under his leadership. Their object was the promotion of piety and morality. 18

By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

While their purpose was to strictly observe the fasts and festivals of the church, to celebrate Holy Communion regularly and to keep them away from the worldly vanities. The greatest success of this movement was among the lower classes, which otherwise had been beyond the influence of the established church. When the Methodist society strengthened, lady preachers were appointed to meet the need. First Wesley Conference was held in 1744, in which women were allowed to preach but later they were restricted to preach. In the beginning, this movement worked under the established church, but as the society grew, it became more independent. However, formed separation was made after the death of Wesley, in 1791. Adam Bede was published in 1859, but the story of the novel takes place in 1799. This was the time of most stirring events all over the world – civil war was fought in United States, in Italy there raise the Movement of Independence, Japan came out of its self-imposed isolation, Russia freed her serfs, Prussia arose as a great, European power and France fell to internal strife. But Hayslope in England, in which the action of the novel takes place remains unaffected by all these events, discussed in “Adam Bede” is the famous religious movement of that time, Methodism. Dinah Morris, who is one of the most devoted and staunch Methodists, represents this movement. She is a very influential preacher and her sermons are characteristic of Methodist preaching, her first appearance in the novel is in a sermon at Hayslope. This sermon has a purely Methodist appeal. At first there is an emphasis on God’s love for poor, then there is rousing call for repentance by elaborating the miseries of a soul lost in sin warning against the worldly vanity comes at the last. The speech of Dinah on this topic is similar to that of Wesley’s: “Wear no gold, no pearls or precious stones, use no curling of hair, buy no velvet, no silks, no superfluities, nor no mean or no moments; however much in fashion I do not advise women to wear rings earrings, necklaces, laces etc.“ This speech creates a moving effect on the audience. However, by and large, the people of Hayslope remain, un-affected by Methodism, while the people of Snowfield are more receptive of it. Dinah is an example of the most sincere type of Methodist. She has a soft compassionate nature and has a large broad sympathy for the sinners. Her chief aim is to know the Will of God and to follow it. It is said about Methodists: 19

By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

“They believe in present miracles in instantaneous conversions, in revelations by dream and visions: they drew lots and sought for divine guidance by opening the Bible at hazard”. Dinah also believes in this. She consults Bible for guidance before taking any crucial decision. Hence, she rejects Seth and accepts Adam on this consolation but subjectively. Dinah’s Methodist spirit also appears in tow occasions, on the first one, Dinah visits Lisbeth Bede to console her on her husband’s death. She tells Lisbeth: “Dear sister, the lord has sent me to see if I can be a comfort to you”. Soon after, her soothing words and manner, she helps Lisbeth to regain her self control. She also persuades Lisbeth to wash and put on a clean cap, by reciting the verses from the Bible certainly Dinah gets this healing touch through her Methodist learning. The other occasion comes when Dinah meets Hetty in prison and makes her confess. Hetty has no concept of the agony of soul she fears only for the suffering of the body. But Dinah makes her feel the physical presence of God, with them. She urges Hetty, “To put a new fear within her –the fear of her sin”. Thus, Hetty realizes the sufferings of her soul, confesses her crime and repents on her sin, because of Dinah’s efforts and prayer. The novel also presents the tolerant attitude of the established church, represented by Mr. Irvine, towards Methodism. To him, it is clear that Methodists are doing no harm. Through the epilogue, it is known that Dinah preaches no more, because The Second Wesley Conference has forbidden the women to preach they feel that woman preachers “did more harm than goodness with their preaching”. But, Dinah does not belong to this group of women. Rather, she is a symbol of purity and a force of good. Moreover, much of the story involves through Methodism, and hence it progresses through Dinah. However, Eliot is more concerned with the psychology of the characters and their moral choice. She wants to moralize the people and Dinah’s Methodist approach also highlights the moral elements to be developed in the people.

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By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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By Qaisar Iqbal Janjua from Lahore, Pakistan. Contact (92) 300 8494678 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

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