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Q: Discuss Adams education and growth to maturity through a

process of suffering; as demonstrated in George Eliots novel Adam

Bede. (P.U. 2003)
Q: Trace the development of Adam Bede's self-realization through a
process of emotional turmoil within him. (PU:2004, 2014)
Adam: His Faults
Critic after critic has expressed the view that Adam is too good to be true. It has
been said that he is a perfect human being, George Eliots ideal, fully mature and
enlightened from the very beginning. But the truth is otherwise. A moments
reflection shows that he is proud, hard and self-righteous with little sympathy for
ordinary sinners, which we all poor mortals are. As a matter of fact, the novel traces
the process by which he gradually sheds his faultsof his education, enlightenment
and maturity, through a process of suffering and loveand becomes ultimately a
complete man, a fully integrated personality, through his love of Dinah and his
marriage with her. The process of his education occupies the center of the novel. The
point would become clear, if we briefly consider this process.
Hard and Self-righteous
There can be no denying the fact that Adam is hard and self-righteous. In the very
chapter we are told, The idle tramps always felt sure they could get a copper from
Seth; they scarcely ever spoken to Adam. This is the flaw (not a fatal one) in Adams
innocence: his confidence that he is righteous and that it is not too hard for anyone to
be sosuggested in the hymn he sings and confirmed in the conversation that follows
makes him less readily accessible to compassion than his brother. Even so, it is
perfectly appropriate that the chapter should end with Adams singing, on his way
home, the same hymnand that the impression produced by the whole chapter is
one of delight in a life that has (and not only in the workshop) the quality of good,
sound craftsmanship: the hidden joints no less well made than the visible ones. For
to Adam, evidently the thought that,
Gods all seeing eye surveys
Thy secret thoughts, thy works and ways.
is a matter for cheerful song.
Proud of his Clarity of Vision
He does not knowingly wrong anybody, but he does not hesitate to hurt. He is
convinced of the clarity of his vision and his understanding: Ive seen pretty clear,
ever since I could cast up a sum, as you can never do whats wrong without breeding
sin and trouble more than you can ever see... Under the impact of the shock which
he receives when he sees his friend Arthur making love to his beloved, Hetty, his
confidence in his own righteousness is shaken, and gradually he comes to realise that
one cannot fore-see the consequences of his own wrong doing. When he sees the two
in the wood, he at once knows, how incomplete his mental seeing has been: He
understood it all nowthe locket, and everything else that had been doubtful to him
a terrible scoring light showed him the hidden letters that changed the meaning of
the past. This is the beginning of the process of his education and self-realization.
Imbalance of Head and Heart
As George R. Creeger points out in the beginning, Adam may be intelligent,
diligent, trustworthy and loyal, but he is not yet a mature man. This is so because in
him the head outweighs the heart. He is wrathful, stern, stiff and masterful,
unyielding, harsh, hot and hasty, intolerant and essentially humourless. Whenever,
in George Eliots moral world, there is such an imbalance of head and heart,
intellectual keenness is in danger if turning into hardness and pride. About Adams
pride there is little disagreement; we hear of it on all sides and are given frequent
examples of it. [The same is true of sides and are given frequent examples of it]. The
same is true of Adams hardness, which consist in has having too little fellow-feeling
with the weakness that errs in spite of foreseen consequences. Without this fellow-
feeling, George Eliot continues, how are we to get enough patience and charity
towards our stumbling, falling companions in the long and changeful journey? The
answer, implicit in the first part of Adam Bede, is that we do not. Repeatedly in the
opening chapters of the book we see Adam, proudly in control of his own life, losing
all patience with lesser mortals who stumble and falllike his own father, for
example. The function of old Thias Bede as a character is, indeed, precisely that of
revealing the extent of his sons hardness. The same is true of Arthur. Towards both
men, Adam is unforgiving, and even when he repents of his severity, the repentance
is futile because it reflects no genuine increase in his capacity for sympathy.
His Emotional Involvement with Hetty
The reason is that Adam is not fully involved emotionally with either his father or
Arthur. Because of this he can neither participate in their plight nor understand it.
What is necessary for Adam is that he should get his heartstrings bound round the
weak and erring, so that he may share not only the outward consequence of their
error, but their inward suffering. Precisely such an emotional involvement exists for
Adam in his relationship with Hetty. This relationship is not a rational one; rather it
is a passion which overmasters him. Adams heart-strings are bound fast to Hetty.
His Consequent Suffering
As result of this emotional involvement, Adam suffers, and learns to share the
suffering of others. He suffers when he sees Arthur and Hetty together in the wood,
he suffers when he thinks that Hetty has run away to Arthur to avoid their
approaching marriage, and he suffers still more when Hetty is arrested and tried for
child-murder. He suffers from deep spiritual anguish, but his response is different
from that of Hetty: where she sank into passivity and inaction, he goes in the
opposite direction toward violent action. Hetty fell below the level even of human
craving; Adam lusts for revenge. The response of both is in keeping with their
characters: Hetty, whose hardness is that of selfishness, has no will at all: faced with
a situation she cannot handle, she is brought to a dead quiet. Adam, whose hardness
is that of pride, is all active will, and he lashes out. But the fierce desire for activity
does nothing to mitigate his suffering the marks of which, as in the case of Hetty, are
revealed in the changes in his physical appearance.
Regeneration Through Love
At this crisis in his life there is yet the possibility for regeneration through a
human agent exercising the power of love. Adams suffering is indeed a pre-condition
for his regeneration. The agent is a double one: Mr. Irwine and Bartle Massey. Both
men, themselves fully mature, do what they can to help Adam in his misery. Sensing
in him a potentiality for violence and a desire to take vengeance on Arthur, they seek
to divert him. Irwine uses the power of reason, arguing that to injure Arthur will not
help Hetty and that passionate violence will lead only to another crime. Adam agrees,
but it is not full acceptance. This full acceptance is brought about by Bartle Massey.
Role of Bartle Massey
The scene takes place in Stoniton in what George Eliot pointedly calls an upper
room, a duel upper room. Adam, who in this scene comes to comprehend the
necessity for compassion and forgiveness in life and thereby achieves what George
Eliot calls an awakening to full consciousness, participates in a kind of symbolic
Lords supper. Before reporting the latest news of the trial Bartle says, I must see to
your having a bit of the loaf, and some of that wine Mr. Irwine sent this morning..I
must have a bit and a sip myself. Drink a drop with me, my laddrink with me. At
first Adams thoughts continue to play bitterly on his own suffering and his desire for
revenge, but gradually, as Bartle speaks, his hardness melts and finally he declares
that he will go to the court and stand by Hetty, that her own flesh and blood were
cowardly to cast her off. To which Bartle replies: Take a bit, then, and another sip,
Adam, for the love of me. Nerved by an active resolution, Adam took a morsel of
bread, and drank some wine. He was haggard and unshaven, as he had been
yesterday, but he stood upright again, and looked more like the Adam Bede of former
Attainment of MaturityLove of Dinah
Adams decision to stand by Hetty, an expression of his old love for her as well as
of his new willingness to involve his life with the suffering of others, has two
consequences: it leads to his being able to forgive Arthur, and it makes him capable
of a new sort of love. He realises the truth that Love does not exist without
sympathy; sympathy does not exist without suffering in common. For many, the
love which subsequently grows between Dinah and Adam (as well as their marriage)
seems an anti-climax. While granting that George Eliot has some difficulty in
focusing the conclusion, I cannot agree that it is an artistic weakness, as Henry
James would have it: without it one is left with two of the principal figuresAdam
and Dinahstill incomplete human beings. They have suffered in common, they have
in common painful memories of Hetty; such common suffering gives rise mutual
sympathy, love follows such sympathy, and hence it is in the fitness of things that the
two should come together and get married. This love leads to the fulfilment of his
personality, and the process of his growth and maturity is completed. There is now
a full integration of head and heart.
Development of Adam Bedes self-realization through a process of
emotional turmoil within him
Critics are of the view that Adam is a true and perfect human being. He is not an
ordinary person. He is a towering personality. He is unique in many aspects. He is
fully a matured person from the very beginning but it is not true. Though, he is a
unique person, yet he is not a fully developed and mature person. In the very
beginning of the novel it is clear that he is rash, proud, stiff back, self-righteous, hard
person. He is over serious. He lacks humour. He has a very little sympathy for the
ordinary sinners which we all poor mortals are. The basic fault of his character is that
he lacks the balance of head and heart which is the sign of maturity. This shows that
he is not a mature person.

The whole novel shows a process by which he gradually sheds his faults of his
education, enlightenment and maturity, though a process of sufferings and love; he
becomes ultimately a complete man. Adam is very strong physically. His rolled up
sleeves above the elbow show that he is going to win the prize for the feats of
strength. He is an intelligent person. He is a skilled workman. He is very hard
worker. He feels satisfied in his work. He is sincere to every person. He is sincere to
his work, to his parents, friends and relatives but he is not sincere with himself. He is
proud of his clarity of vision, to understand the character of others but he fails to
understand himself. He does not understand Hetty also to whom he loves from the
core of his heart. He is self-righteous. He thinks whatever he thinks is right. As he
loves Hetty so he is forced to think that she also loves him but it is not true. He feels
hesitation to express his feelings of love to Hetty.

Adams sense of self-righteousness makes him a bit hard and unsympathetic. He

becomes impatient and rash at the faults of other. He is stiff back. He is unforgiving.
He becomes very harsh towards his father because he is not sincere towards his
word, he is not responsible. After the death of his father he repents on his severity
which is futile as now it is of no any use. The death of his father is the first step of the
beginning of the process of his education and self-realization. As Adam is a self-
righteous, proud and stiff back so he cannot learn until he suffers. Such person
cannot understand any other person as he thinks that he is right and no other person
has enough time to educate such a person. As true wisdom comes through sufferings
when such person undergoes through a process of sufferings and mishaps then he
evaluates himself to remove his faults. Till the teenage the nature of a person can be
changed by elders but after teen age nobody can change his nature until the person
himself wants to correct himself.

Adam lacks humour, he is over serious. There is no softness or glimpse of love on his
face then how Hetty can love him. She knows about him that he is rash, self-
righteous and hard. Moreover, Adam also does not express his feelings of love for her
then how can she understand that Adam loves her. She respects him but she does not
love him. She is confused about his character. When Adam finds his friend Arther
making love his beloved in woods, he becomes rash and impatient. He was shocked
at his confidence in his self-righteousness and clarity of vision. This was the second
step of his learning and to evaluate himself that what weakness he has in his
character that Hetty does not love him. Now he cannot tell her that he loves Hetty as
he has come to know that somebody else has already come in her life. At this sight he
becomes out of his control and fights Arthet and beats him very much. This was the
only way for him to express his feelings of love for Hetty.

Adam is intelligent, diligent, trustworthy and loyal but he is not yet a mature person.
The reason is that his head outweighs the heart. There is imbalance of head and heart
in him. He is wrathful, unyielding and harsh. His emotional involvement with Hetty
is not rational one but it is a passion that overpowers him. Adams heart strings are
bound fast for Hetty. Perhaps it is the result of his emotional involvement with Hetty
that he suffers and learns to share the sufferings of others. Adam suffers when he
sees Arther and Hetty together in the woods. He suffers at various times when Arther
has left Hayslope, the marriage of Adam and Hetty is fixed but when she feels that
she cannot conceal her pregnancy. Moreover, she feels suffocated as her feelings and
thinking cannot be restricted. Her short meeting with Arther overpowers her and she
leaves home in search of Arther. Secondly, she does not want to hurt Adam. Again
Adam suffers when he thinks that Hetty has run away to avoid their approaching
marriage. This is the third step of the process of his education and self- realization.
Hetty does not tell Adam anything as he has lost his trust by beating Arther.
When Hetty has left Hayslope, after some days she gives birth to a baby but the baby
dies. People think that she herself has killed her baby when Adam hears that Hetty is
arrested and tried for child-murder, he suffers still more. He suffers from deep
spiritual anguish but his response is much different from Hetty. Adam lusts for
revenge but Irwine tells him that to injure Arther will not help Hetty. Adam when
goes to Hetty he comes to realize that now he cannot marry Hetty and Hetty cannot
become his wife. So, he helps her as a friend. At the end when Hetty is taken for
execution, Arther comes with bail and goes but Adam does not beat him. He cannot
understand the love of Hetty and Arther. Adams maturity enables him to forgive
Arther and it makes him capable of a new sort of love. He realizes the truth that
Love does not exist without sympathy; sympathy does not exist without suffering in
Dinnah and Adam have common painful memories of Hetty. Such common
sufferings give rise to mutual sympathy, love follows sympathy and it is fitness of
things that they should come together and get married. This love leads to the
fulfillment of his personality and process of his growth and maturity is completed.
Now there is a full integration of head and heart.
It may be concluded that Adam Bede is a round character. In the whole novel there is
development of Adam Bedes self-realization through a process of emotional
sufferings within him.