Adam Bede: Chapter 30

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Summary of Chapter 30: The Delivery of the Letter

 

 Adam joins the Poysers on their walk home after church because he wants to talk to Hetty. She is afraid he means to tell on her, but Hetty is confident she can manipulate Adam to her own purposes. Hetty believes that Arthur will miss her and will come home at Christmas, as he said he might do.

 

Adam is direct and says that he is trying to help Hetty because she does not know the ways of the world. Arthur does not love her and will not marry her. Hetty is shocked and does not believe Adam. She knows more than Adam does about how serious their relationship is. She realizes Adam does not know the worst. He keeps repeating that Arthur does not mean to marry her, and finally he produces the letter. He says that he will be like a brother to her in this crisis, and tries to get her to see how dangerous the situation is for her. Hetty believes the letter will be a love letter and puts it in her pocket. They spend the evening with her aunt and uncle and Adam is very kind, trying to cover for her and be entertaining, so her pale look will not be noticed.

 

Adam’s tenderness is aroused, and at home, he is kind to Seth, asking him about Dinah. Seth says there is no hope she will change her mind, but gives him a letter from Dinah to read that has consolation and wisdom in it for Adam’s situation. Dinah speaks of sorrow being a part of love and that love bears it and does not throw it off. Adam thinks Dinah has the power to make everything seem right. He tells Seth a woman sometimes takes time to love by degrees, hoping this is true of Hetty.

 

Commentary on Chapter 30

 

 Hetty, like Arthur, has a smaller moral view than Adam does and she, like Arthur, thinks she can manage Adam. They both count on his love and loyalty, but they do not realize that Adam is a man of principle above all else. Because he believes Hetty innocent, he tries to put aside his own feeling of jealousy and thinks of her, trying to be like a brother to save her. He cannot hope for any return to his love until he can get her safely past this danger. He does not ask for any immediate thanks because he sees her simply as a person in trouble. As he says of Dinah, he hopes Hetty may yet learn to love a man who is good to her and sticks by her.

 

The only person who can speak words of comfort to Adam at this time is Dinah, through the letter, for her perspective is large enough to comprehend what he is going through. Adam tells Arthur his love own for Hetty is different; for him she is not a plaything, and he cannot explain it, for the love was given to him by God (p. 309). Divine love, Dinah explains in her letter, is able to take up sorrow and purify it through sympathy. True love does not consist in pleasure alone. Arthur and Hetty believe in their own desire being satisfied. Adam, like Dinah, experiences a love that reaches out to share sorrow and disappointment but stands firm. Adam knows, “I’m not th’only man that’s got to do without much happiness in’ this life. There’s many a good bit o’ work done with a sad heart” (p. 326). He does not believe the universe exists for his personal pleasure. Dinah and Adam are purified and made humble by love, because they know love means sacrifice. Hetty and Arthur are egoists; their attraction can hardly be called love. Adam is angry at Arthur for spoiling Hetty’s chances for true love in her life: “I know you’ve disturbed her mind. I know she’s been fixing her heart on you” (p. 309).

 

 

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