ADAM BEDE, the first long novel of George Eliot (MARY ANN EVANS), was pub lished. in 1859. The action takes place in the English village of Hayslope, where the hero, Adam, a simple workman of sterling worth, pursues his trade of carpentry. Very different from Adam is his brother, Seth, a gentle and loving spirit, whose religious emotions have been strongly engaged by Methodist revival of the time. Seth is devotedly in love with the leading exponent of the sect in the Hayslope community, Dinah Morris, but she, consecrated to her work of evangelical preaching, refuses to think of him except with sisterly and re ligious affection. Adam loves Hetty Sorrel, a beautiful but vain and shallow country girl, who encourages him but secretly hopes to make a much loftier marriage. When young Arthur Donnithorne, son of the village squire, falls in love with her, both her passion and her am bition are stirred. Arthur, who is kind-hearted but weak-willed, tries to resist his infatuation, but finally yields to it. When Adam discovers them together there is a stormy scene between the two men, and Arthur agrees to tell Hetty that he can never marry her. Hetty, in her loneliness after Arthur's departure, becomes engaged to Adam, not knowing that she is to be a mother. When at last she realizes her condition she goes to Windsor in search of Arthur. Finding, after a painful journey, that he has gone to Ireland, she wanders miserably to seek Dinah. The scene now changes to Hay slope, where the girl's long absence has aroused anxiety, and the reader learns, with Adam, that she is in prison, charged with the murder of her child. She is condemned to death, but at
the last moment, when, supported by Dinah, she is going to the gallows, her sentence is commuted to transportation, the release from death being brought by Arthur Donnithorne. The subject of Hetty's sin is handled with peculiar delicacy, and her wretched journey is one of the most poignant incidents of fiction. The story ends with the marriage of Adam and Dinah, who have been unconsciously drawn together from the first.
The characters in the story, simple country people as they are, working on the farm or in the shop, are portrayed with unusual distinct ness, and their appeal is direct and powerful. The analysis of Hetty's character is particu larly keen. In the midst of pity for her fate the reader is never allowed to forget the girls' shallowness and selfishness. Finely contrasted with Hetty is Dinah Morris, in her purity and selflessness. But the dominant figure is Adam Bede himself, level-headed and iron-willed, morally uncompromising, finding his best re ligion in work well done. The theme of the inevitable consequences of wrong-doing, which is ever present in George Eliot's novels, is strongly emphasized, and the story as a whole is not to be forgotten.
°George Eliot as Author,' by R. H. Hutton, in 'Some Modern Guides of English Thought' ; "Essays on George Eliot," by E. Dowden, in