‘I aspire to give no more than a faithful account of men and things as they have mirrored themselves in my mind.’
George Eliot admirably achieves this aim in Adam Bede, her first novel, as she subtly but realistically weaves together the lives of four inhabitants in the close-knit community of Hayslope. She creates a simple pastoral, which tells of the seduction of the beautiful Hetty Sorrel - a vain, self-seeking country girl - and the shattered hopes and illusions of Adam Bede, her unacknowledged lover. The tone is one of such bitter-sweet melancholy that their tragedy will deeply touch the reader, and even lead us to sympathize with the candid but over-proud Captain Donnithorne, Hetty’s seducer, and to feel the severity of his self-inflicted punishment.
Yet there is a powerful shining light in the novel, embodied in the form of the Methodist preacher Dinah Morris. Her loving affection and devout sense of what is right breathes a peaceful warmth into all lives involved in Adam Bede.