Adam Bede

by: George Eliot

Book First: Chapters 9–12

The coincidences that keep Captain Donnithorne from getting away from Hetty before their first meeting in the woods constitute the idea of tragedy in the novel. Because Hetty is considered to be within a lower social status than the captain, the reader assumes that a future between the two is doubtful. A series of human errors, mostly on the part of Captain Donnithorne, but also from Adam and the Poysers, combine with the coincidence of a horse’s lameness and a broken arm to set in motion events with undesirable consequences. If any one of those elements had not been present, it is possible that the Hetty and Captain Donnithorne never would have interacted. This collusion of events make fate seem at fault for what is to come instead of the actions of any one of the characters.