Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 5, 2023
November 28, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
See discount terms and conditions.
The narrator pauses in the story to justify Mr. Irwine’s
character. The characters in this novel, the narrator claims, are
true to life and not the more sophisticated, better educated, more
moralistic characters that her lady readers might want. Mr. Irwine
is well loved in Hayslope, the narrator says, and is more loved
than his successor, who was a better preacher and more severe teacher.
The narrator claims to have gotten this knowledge from conversations
with Adam several years after the action of the novel. The narrator
urges readers to love their neighbors as they find them and not
to demand more beauty, intelligence, or wit than they find in them.
The Poysers go to church to celebrate the Sunday Mass
and the funeral service for Thias Bede. On the way, the Poysers
talk about Hetty, Dinah, and the Methodists. Mr. Poyser meditates
on how pleased he is with Mrs. Poyser’s ability to run the farm.
Hetty dresses herself especially, hoping to see Captain Donnithorne
there. Captain Donnithorne, however, does not show up to the service because,
as she learns from his gardener, he has gone off fishing. Lisbeth
feels that the service puts her more at ease with the death of Thias
Bede because it is the last duty she owes him and will help him to
heaven. Seth hopes his father had one last moment of reconciliation
with God. Adam regrets his hardness toward his father, reflecting
that he was motivated by pride when completing his father’s work
earlier. He resolves he should have been gentler with his father. Adam
also watches Hetty, and he misinterprets her sadness over the absence
of Captain Donnithorne as sympathy for the death of his father.
Adam walks to work and thinks about Hetty. With the death
of Thias Bede, Adam has a better chance of making some money to marry.
He decides that he and Seth should start making high-quality furniture
in their spare time to make some extra money. He also decides that
he will go to Hall Farm that evening after work to see Hetty and
fix Mrs. Poyser’s spinning wheel. In the workshop, Adam is at ease
and in his element, and he softly hums hymns while he performs his
Adam dresses in his Sunday best and heads out for Hall
Farm. Lisbeth chases after him, harassing him about why he is wearing
his good clothes, and Adam tells her that he will do what he wants
with respect to Hetty. Adam goes to Mrs. Poyser in the dairy because
the rest of the household is outside gathering the hay to take advantage of
the good weather. Mrs. Poyser sends Adam out to the garden to see
Hetty, who is picking currants and is supposed to be watching Totty.
Adam finds Totty playing near the cherry tree and eating cherries,
and he sends her in to Mrs. Poyser. Then he joins Hetty and helps
her gather the remaining currants. When Hetty sees Adam, she starts
and blushes because she has been thinking of Captain Donnithorne.
Adam, however, misinterprets her blush as an indication that she
is finally falling in love with him. Adam talks to Hetty about Captain
Donnithorne’s offer to help finance his own business, and Hetty
eagerly listens to any news about Captain Donnithorne. Again, Adam
assumes she is showing an increased attention to him and his affairs.
Adam gives Hetty a rose, which she coquettishly puts in her hair,
and Adam chastises her that a beautiful woman needs no adornment
but will look beautiful in even the plainest clothes. When they
go in the house for dinner, Hetty goes upstairs and comes down dressed
in Dinah’s frock and hat, claiming that she has dressed in this
way to please Adam. Meanwhile, Mrs. Poyser scolds the maid, who
breaks several mugs of beer because she has carried too many at
once. Mrs. Poyser then drops her own pitcher and claims it must
have been bewitched. After Adam says good night, Mr. Poyser tells
Hetty she would be lucky to marry Adam, but Hetty just scoffs.
Adam goes to visit Bartle Massey, the schoolmaster. Massey
teaches several of the adults in the community how to read, and
he is gentlest with those for whom the reading is the hardest. After
class is over, Adam and Massey chat, and Massey excoriates Adam
on his wanting to marry because, Massey says, women are nothing
but a hassle. Massey tells Adam that Squire Donnithorne’s old timber manager
has had a stroke and that people are speculating that Adam might
be appointed to replace him. Adam says he thinks not, however, because
of a quarrel he and the Squire had a few years back. Adam had made
a frame for the Squire’s daughter, Miss Lydia, but the Squire refused
to pay the price Adam asked for it and insulted Adam’s carpentry.
Adam refused all payment rather than take less than he asked and
instead offered to make the frame a gift. The Squire’s wife secretly
slipped Adam the full price he had requested, but Adam and the Squire
had been on bad terms ever since.
The narrator’s interlude and justification of Mr. Irwine
demonstrates Eliot’s humanistic view of the inherent good in everyday
people. Mr. Irwine doesn’t comport with Victorian moralistic views
of what a preacher should be. He is, instead, a good person who
has his failings but is generally motivated by love and his desire
to do what is best for others. In this way, Mr. Irwine is typical
of most of the characters in the novel. In comparison, Adam and
Dinah are clearly both set up as characters worthy of emulation,
and together they are the positive moral force of the book. Nevertheless,
Adam suffers from his pride, which leads him, for example, to be
too hard on his father, and Dinah has her failings in her stubborn
refusal to seek personal happiness for herself. Unlike Mr. Irwine,
Adam, and Dinah, Hetty and Captain Donnithorne are the two characters
that most resemble villains in Adam Bede, but both
have redeeming qualities and commit acts in the novel that lead
to positive outcomes for other characters. Eliot’s view of human
nature, then, is a complex one. She does not preach, and she does
not offer flat characters with whom it is impossible to sympathize.
Instead, she offers real characters, whose motivations are sympathetic
even when those motivations are impure.
Eliot portrays Adam’s sense of industry and his proficiency
as a carpenter in this section as qualities that distinguish him
from others in Hayslope and set him above those who are lazy. Adam’s
desire to better his lot becomes clear in this section in several
ways. First, Adam plans to do extra carpentry after work to earn
some pocket money so that he can set up a home and marry Hetty.
Adam’s willingness to visit the Poysers and fix Mrs. Poyser’s spinning
wheel is an act that brings him closer to Hetty’s family. Unlike
Captain Donnithorne, who uses Totty as a way of getting closer to
Hetty, Adam plans to lend the Poysers a hand while visiting Hetty.
Adam also displays an eagerness to learn by attending night school,
where Bartle Massey has taught him to read and do arithmetic. Adam’s
industry is openly admired by several characters in the book as
evidence of his good character. It contrasts with the villagers
who drink at the tavern and with Hetty, who never puts her mind
to her work, even while she is doing it. This compulsion to work
is one of the few characteristics Adam, the hero of the novel, and
Dinah, its heroine, share.
One of the few flaws in Adam’s character is his pride,
although this failing is mitigated to some extent by his own awareness
of the weakness. But the story about the quarrel between Adam and
the Squire provides evidence of this pride, as this disagreement
with the Squire proves that Adam will not allow superiority to stand
in the way of what he thinks he deserves. Although Adam is ordinarily very
respectful of authority, his pride in his work supersedes his natural
goodwill when the Squire tries to pay him less than he feels his work
is worth. His pride manifests also toward his father, in his hardness
and willingness to work to ameliorate the shame his father brought
on the family rather than to be kind to his father. Adam’s pride
is tested when he is later led to judge someone whom he respects
and considers a friend. This judgment against another person’s actions
is exactly what the whole novel aims at condemning. Throughout the
novel, Adam is tested through a number of tragedies that will affect
his pride and cause him to question how to act. Because he becomes
aware of his own pride and is able to overcome it, he remains a
person to emulate in the novel. Unlike the villains in the novel,
whose lack of self-scrutiny makes them unable to correct their faults,
Adam is able to see his own failings and correct them.
Eliot contrasts inner and outer beauty through Mr. and
Mrs. Poyser’s conversation about Hetty and Dinah. When Mr. Poyser states
that men would still prefer Hetty over Dinah even if Dinah didn’t
wear her Methodist cap, it suggests that external beauty is more
recognized and preferred to inner beauty. Despite Hetty’s lack of
inner beauty, she is the more physically beautiful of the two, and those
around her are often fooled and blinded by her appealing looks.
At this point, the only character who knows Hetty’s true personality
is Mrs. Poyser. In fact, Mrs. Poyser for a moment forgets Hetty’s
inner ugliness after she sees Hetty walk down the stairs in her
Sunday best, and she has to turn away to keep from smiling and speaking.
Adam falls blind to Hetty’s beauty when he mistakes her sadness
at the funeral and later when he discusses Captain Donnithorne’s
offer to help with his business. Adam thinks he loves Hetty, but
he really is infatuated with her, based on her beauty. He assumes
she is a good person but only draws this conclusion because of her
appearance. However, unlike Adam, Seth’s feelings for Dinah are
more real because he is drawn not only to her beauty but also to her