Eliot’s treatment of the unknown and unseen, as they direct the actions of the characters, reveals sympathy with the idea that there are forces in the world no one can control. Although the narrator repeatedly suggests that readers would be too sophisticated to indulge in a belief in the unknown and might even scoff at it, the characters who believe are treated gently and are generally directed by those forces for the better. First, Dinah’s belief in God’s will pushes her to leave Hayslope and, as the reader later learns, was the reason she became a preacher in the first place. Eliot does not mock Dinah for her belief that God is speaking to her but rather treats it as a part of her fundamental good nature. Similarly, Adam’s sense of foreboding at the knocking on the door is fulfilled in the drowning of his father. Although his superstition marks Adam as a peasant without sophisticated opinions and cynical worldviews, the fulfillment of that superstition suggests that Adam’s rural sensibilities are more relevant than they might appear.
The narrator tells the story of Adam Bede in two ways. Most of the time, the narrator seems to stand apart from the characters and report only what is seen, not necessarily the characters’ thoughts. But as a person telling the story, the narrator also makes judgments and leaves scenes and details out. Here, as a character, the narrator seems to participate in the story but does not know the details behind these scenes and is therefore only able to narrate through the other character’s personal accounts. These untold scenes allow the reader to imagine or elaborate on what happened (mostly those scenes surrounding Hetty). The narrator explains these scenes through other characters’ accounts or by Adam’s and Captain Donnithorne’s reactions to the unfolding events. The narrator also sometimes knows and reports on what the other characters are thinking. A couple of examples are when Captain Donnithorne tries to fight his feelings for Hetty, and when Hetty chooses to leave Hayslope to find the captain. By portraying the narrator as a character, Eliot presents a moral perspective because the narrator is a real person who is judgmental throughout the story.