Adam Bede: Chapter 33

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Summary of Chapter 33: More Links

 

It is harvest time, and Mrs. Poyser is the heroine of the valley for speaking her mind to the old squire. Mr. Irwine and his mother admire Mrs. Poyser for her backbone but doubt the old squire will be around much longer. Both Mrs. Poyser and Adam notice changes in Hetty after she receives the letter. She is quieter, more cooperative and less vain. She does her work without scolding and does not want to go anywhere. Adam takes it as a sign she is getting over Arthur. He feels hopeful.

 

The narrator comments on Adam’s love for Hetty. On the one hand, he falls in love with her because of the way she looks; he has no idea who she is. But, the narrator thinks Adam’s love comes from his strength not his weakness, for love is like a mysterious music set off by beauty, and Hetty touches all the deep places in Adam. His work is prospering, and he can think of marriage. Jonathan Burge offers him a partnership, and so with his two jobs, he can afford to buy a house.

 

Commentary on Chapter 33

 

Readers will understand more than Adam does about Hetty’s changes. She seems to be hiding away, not wanting to call attention to herself. She has a harder, more mature look. She tries to be agreeable to Adam. She may already suspect that she is pregnant. In any case, she has been abandoned by Arthur and now plays up to Adam, dressing as he likes and acting demure. She is no trouble to her aunt. She depends on others now and must hide what she has done. The narrator tries to speculate on Adam’s illusions about Hetty. Are they foolish or noble? They proceed from a noble mind who attributes its own nobility to another, but the love Adam feels is deep nonetheless. If it is an error, it is the error of a good person, one who does not know the minds of women. Eliot, however, by showing us the depth of each character, brings out the contradictions, complexity, and mystery of the human being. We assume we know others, but even people we are close to may not know us. The Poysers have raised Hetty and still they have no idea of the misery she is able to plunge all them into in just a few months.

 

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