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2010/11 Group Reads - Archives > Adam Bede - Book Third

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Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Here's the discussion thread for "Adam Bede" Book Third.


message 2: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 180 comments Ssshhhh! That hasn't happened yet!


message 3: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 180 comments All right, so this book is almost entirely taken up with descriptions of Arthur's coming of age party.

What I found most remarkable- and true! in all of this is Adam's endless capacity to rationalize Hetty's behavior, and convince himself that she does love him after all. The whole bit with the locket, for example.

What did others think of his persistent self-delusion? Are people liking characters more or less at this point?

I remember that this is the point in the novel where I began thinking more badly of Arthur and less badly of Hetty. Adam seems to be developing as a character and I like him more- the self-delusion as above makes him more real, flawed.


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments I have a soft spot for curmudgeons -- I'm very fond of Mr. Bennett, for instance -- and Bartle Massey is fast becoming another favorite. His insistence that men can cook and clean better than women. And those wonderful (to curmudgeon lovers) passages, such as:

'Nay, Mr Massey,' said Adam, who took his old friend's whim more seriously than usual to-night, 'don't be so hard on the creatures God has made to be companions for us. A working man 'ud be badly off without a wife to see to th' house and the victual, and make things clean and comfortable.'

'Nonsense! It's the silliest lie a sensible man like you ever believed, to say a woman makes a house comfortable.


and

Don't tell me about God having made such creatures to be companions for us! I don't say but he might make Eve to be a companion for Adam in Paradise - there was no cooking to be spoilt there, and no other woman to cackle with and make mischief; though you see what mischief she did as soon as she'd an opportunity.

and

'Trust to me, my boy, trust to me. I've got no wife to worm it out of me, and then run out and cackle it in everybody's hearing. If you trust a man, let him be a bachelor - let him be a bachelor.'

How can a true curmudgeon connoisseur not love Bartle?


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments The scene of Hetty dressing for the party is a classic example of two of Eliot's best attributes as a writer -- her painter's eye, drawing the scene almost like a Vermeer painting, and her ability to capture the most subtle emotions and lay them bare before the reader.


message 6: by Joanna (new)

Joanna (joannamauselina) | 15 comments I was going to comment on what I saw as a major theme in the novel, but Madge and Everyman beat me to the punch. That would of course, be the obliviousness and self-delusion of most of the main characters. Hetty deludes herself about Arthur’s feelings and intentions, Arthur deludes himself about his own intentions and about Hetty’s feelings for him – convincing himself that to her, their affair is a mere flirtation with no lasting meaning, just as it is to him. Adam deludes himself about Hetty – both as to her inner life (not realizing that she has none) and as to her feelings about himself. Mary Bruge deludes herself about Adam, thinking that he could not possibly be so deluded about the vapidity of Hetty. Bartle Massey seems to be a bit deluded in his misogyny, although he recognizes the worth of Dinah. The Rector is deluding himself about Arthur’s weakness, as is Adam. The only two who seem not to be rigorously deluding themselves are Mrs. Poyser, and poor Lisabeth, who through all her whining, does seem to have a grip on the way things really are. And so she snivels about it.


message 7: by Joanna (new)

Joanna (joannamauselina) | 15 comments Everyman wrote: "I have a soft spot for curmudgeons -- I'm very fond of Mr. Bennett, for instance -- and Bartle Massey is fast becoming another favorite. His insistence that men can cook and clean better than wome..."

You would love my aunt! Although curmudgeons are generally men, she definitely qualifies.


message 8: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Joanna wrote: "I was going to comment on what I saw as a major theme in the novel, but Madge and Everyman beat me to the punch. That would of course, be the obliviousness and self-delusion of most of the main c..."

Great summary Joanna!!


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Joanna wrote: "I was going to comment on what I saw as a major theme in the novel, but Madge and Everyman beat me to the punch.
...
Bartle Massey seems to be a bit deluded in his misogyny, although he recognizes the worth of Dinah. "


I agree with your insightful comments on Adam, Hetty, Arthur, and Mary Burge. But how do you see Bartle as deluded? Just because you disagree with him? Or do you see, as in the others, some way in which he actually isn't who he thinks to himself he is?

Also, I would add Dinah to those who are not deluding themselves. She seems to me to have her head screwed on pretty straight. If there is any delusion in her, it's not understanding just how strong and good she is. But if that is a fault in her, it's one of Christian humility, not delusion, I think.


message 10: by Joanna (new)

Joanna (joannamauselina) | 15 comments Actually, Dinah was on my mental list of the not deluded, but when I was writing earlier, I was thinking of the locals and forgot her. Dinah indeed is very insightful - being the only one to foresee trouble for Hetty, for instance. As to Bartle, I think that despising half the human race qualifies as deluded. I did not mean to imply that he is deluded as to himself. He seems pretty realistic there, even to the point that he admits that his misogyny is related to an earlier personal misfortune.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Joanna wrote: "As to Bartle, I think that despising half the human race qualifies as deluded."

Well, I personally don't see that as qualifying as a delusion -- some might even say it's simply recognition of reality -- but okay.

And we have to remember at the same time that many in the British Empire despised nearly that many people in India, China, and elsewhere. All deluded?


message 12: by MadgeUK (last edited Oct 05, 2010 11:16AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments There is significance too in the fact that Hetty and the other characters come from Loamshire whereas Dinah comes from Stonyshire. There are two different kinds of description - of Mrs Poyser's garden and the farm and of the harsh landscape through which Hetty later journeys.

'That rich undulating district of Loamshire to which Hayslope belonged, lies close to a grim outskirt of Stonyshire, overlooked by its barren hills as a pretty blooming sister may sometimes be seen linked in the arm of a tall, swarthy brother; and in two or three hours' ride the traveller might exchange a bleak treeless region, intersected by lines of cold grey stone, for one where his road wound under the shelter of woods, or up swelling hills, muffled with hedgerows and long meadow-grass and thick corn; and where at every turn he came upon some fine old country seat nestled in the valley or crowning the slop, some homestead with its long length of arn and its cluster of golden ricks, some grey steeple looking out for a pretty confusion of trees and thatch and dark-red tiles.' (Chapter II.)

We are told at the outset that the counties are neighbours and we are not allowed to forget that the richness and abundance of the former are close to the barrenness of the latter, that the poverty and human misery of the mines and industrial towns are close to the prosperity and security of the agricultural world. Dinah's stern demeanour comes from Stonyshire, and reminds the Loamshire community, which is perhaps too easygoing, of its proximity to suffering, suffering which it is to later experience directly through Hetty. I feel that there has to be a change in the hubris of both these characters before the end of the novel, that Dinah as well as Hetty will have to suffer some form of catharsis.


message 13: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 180 comments Joanna wrote: "I was going to comment on what I saw as a major theme in the novel, but Madge and Everyman beat me to the punch. That would of course, be the obliviousness and self-delusion of most of the main c..."

I was just reading an essay on Middlemarch, and that writer pointed out, very aptly I thought, that the theme of self-delusion runs strongly through Eliot's works. Now, I've only read Middlemarch and AB, but it's true to my experience so far. In Middlemarch Dorothea deludes herself about Casaubon, Lydgate deludes himself about Rosamond, Rosamond is just all-around deluded, Casaubon tries desperately to convince himself that he's not a total failure . . . and on and on.

What I really love about all this is that Eliot can write remarkably intelligent and well-rounded characters who delude themselves in a perfectly realistic way. Often I'm watching some wacky romantic comedy or what have you and the characters are SO oblivious and SO deluded that they are unbelievable. Eliot carries it off in a was so true to life . . .

. . . actually, I'm also reminded of Edith Wharton. Newland Archer was a master at self-delusion.


message 14: by MadgeUK (last edited Oct 05, 2010 01:21PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "All deluded?..."

Yes, if the delusion was part of the widely held views about racial superiority. And surely misogyny, a hatred of women, stems from a deluded way of looking at them?


message 15: by Joanna (new)

Joanna (joannamauselina) | 15 comments You are implying that you think not?


message 16: by Rosemary (new)

Rosemary | 180 comments Joanna wrote: "You are implying that you think not?"

I thought he was joking, but maybe I better get out my baseball bat.


message 17: by Everyman (last edited Oct 05, 2010 07:03PM) (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Everyman wrote: "And surely misogyny, a hatred of women, stems from a deluded way of looking at them? "

Deluded, or Realistic? :D

After all, as you pointed out, Eliot is writing a work of realism!


message 18: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments S. Rosemary wrote: "Joanna wrote: "You are implying that you think not?"

I thought he was joking, but maybe I better get out my baseball bat. "


He takes the Fifth.


message 19: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Everyman wrote: "And surely misogyny, a hatred of women, stems from a deluded way of looking at them? "

Deluded, or Realistic? :D

After all, as you pointed out, Eliot is writing ..."


Yes, and has been pointed out, she repeatedly contrasts lack of realism with realism. Delusions are surely a lack of realism since they are 'a fixed belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception'?


message 20: by MadgeUK (last edited Oct 06, 2010 04:48AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments There is an exchange in Chapter 11 about the differences between Loamshire and Stonyshire, which I had mentioned above. Loamshire represents an easygoing unreality and Stonyshire the harder truth about the changing times, as the industrial revolution affects the lives of the people. William Blake's 'Dark Satanic Mills' came to mind when Dinah described Stonyshire:-


Ah," said Adam, "I remember father telling me when I was a little lad that he made up his mind if ever he moved it should be south'ard. But I'm not so sure about it. Bartle Massey says--and he knows the South--as the northern men are a finer breed than the southern, harder-headed and stronger-bodied, and a deal taller. And then he says in some o' those counties it's as flat as the back o' your hand, and you can see nothing of a distance without climbing up the highest trees. I couldn't abide that. I like to go to work by a road that'll take me up a bit of a hill, and see the fields for miles round me, and a bridge, or a town, or a bit of a steeple here and there. It makes you feel the world's a big place, and there's other men working in it with their heads and hands besides yourself."

"I like th' hills best," said Seth, "when the clouds are over your head and you see the sun shining ever so far off, over the Loamford way, as I've often done o' late, on the stormy days. It seems to me as if that was heaven where there's always joy and sunshine, though this life's dark and cloudy."

"Oh, I love the Stonyshire side," said Dinah; "I shouldn't like to set my face towards the countries where they're rich in corn and cattle, and the ground so level and easy to tread; and to turn my back on the hills where the poor people have to live such a hard life and the men spend their days in the mines away from the sunlight. It's very blessed on a bleak cold day, when the sky is hanging dark over the hill, to feel the love of God in one's soul, and carry it to the lonely, bare, stone houses, where there's nothing else to give comfort."


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Delusions are surely a lack of realism since they are 'a fixed belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception'? "

Are you suggesting that realism and falsity are incompatible?

I see it quite differently; that falsity is a natural part of the human experience and therefore representing it accurately is part of realism. Denying falsity seems me to be more an aspect of romanticism.


message 22: by MadgeUK (last edited Oct 06, 2010 10:24AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I am suggesting that GE kept reality and unreality apart in order to emphasise the difference. We have extremely romantic portrayals of the characters and of the countryside in one chapter and realistic portrayals of them on the next. This changes towards the end of the novel when characters begin to see the reality of the situations they face and descriptions of the countryside also change, so that all romanticism changes into the reality which GE sought for the novel.

At the psychological level I am saying that those who suffer from delusions are lacking in reality because they deceive themselves. In psychiatry it is defined as a belief that is pathological (the result of an illness or illness process) and one which is held despite evidence to the contrary.


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "I am suggesting that GE kept reality and unreality apart in order to emphasise the difference. "

I don't disagree. But I'm suggesting that misanthropy is very much realistic. You seem to suggest that Bartle is lacking in reality, pathological, and contrary to evidence to the contrary. I don't see that his negative comments on women are any more so than, say, those of somebody who holds negative views of spiders, or snakes, or cats. They are based on his observations and experiences, both of which are real.

Now, if he believed that all women were witches who rode around on broomsticks and made cows go dry, I would agree that that would be a delusion. But I can hardly see how believing that men can clean and cook as well as or better than women is hardly delusional (indeed, the evidence in the finest restaurants suggests, Julia Child not withstanding, that overall he is quite right about the cooking), nor do I think that believing that women chatter more than men is delusional -- in fact, I think many social scientists would agree with him.

All in all, I don't think he's any more delusional about women than you are about Jane Austen. :D


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Everyman wrote: "nor do I think that believing that women chatter more than men is delusional -- in fact, I think many social scientists would agree with him."

Nope, I don't think so. I've worked in places where men made up a huge majority of the workforce, and I can safely say that men chatter and gossip as much as any women I've ever met. But you may keep your delusions if you wish...


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Kate wrote: "Everyman wrote: "nor do I think that believing that women chatter more than men is delusional -- in fact, I think many social scientists would agree with him."

Nope, I don't think so. I've worked..."


LOL!! My "delusions" are observations based on years spent teaching high school and being a dorm parent in a co-ed dorm, not to mention life in an extended family of five women and three men. My wife and daughters can talk for hours, and they and my mother- and sister-in-law have "sit and knit" sessions Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Think "Music Man" and "pick a little talk a lot."

Been there. Am there.

But it's okay if your delusions don't match my reality. :D

But back to the point, do you think that Bartle's views of women are based on pathological delusions? And if so, why?


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

No, I don't think misogyny is a pathalogical delusion. But I'm not convinced in this case (Bartle's) that it isn't a chosen eccentricity. We shall have to see if further clues arise.


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Kate wrote: "But I'm not convinced in this case (Bartle's) that it isn't a chosen eccentricity. "

I suspect you have hit the nail on the head, or at least partly. It may have arisen from his past experiences, but I agree with what I hear you suggesting, that he has chosen to put it on as an amusing (to him) characteristic, to become a local character.

I see Mr. Bennett in much the same light, by the way. They find amusement in a pretense of cynicism, which pretense after a period of time starts to take on a life which is harder to get rid of than they had initially intended.


message 28: by MadgeUK (last edited Oct 07, 2010 10:20PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "I am suggesting that GE kept reality and unreality apart in order to emphasise the difference. "

I don't disagree. But I'm suggesting that misanthropy is very much realistic. Yo..."


Misanthropy is not the same as misogyny. I was not particularly commenting on Mr Bartle but on misogyny as a pathological condition from which delusions can arise. Given GE's well known pre-Freudian knowledge of psychological conditions I think she is likely to have described misogyny accurately if that is what she intended. Delusions are not just 'negative views', they are irrational fears, sometimes phobias, although I agree that Bartle does not appear to show those at this stage in the book. I think I would describe him as misogynistic rather than a misognyst.

In the psychological sense, people can be deluded about many things which they observe and which seem real to them.

I also think that if Bartle is 'putting on' his eccentric views, GE would have made this clear in her narration - she does not usually leave such matters about character to speculation, which is why she was praised for her psychological insights.


message 29: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Gulhina wrote: "how can a sensible man like Adam can fall in love with Hetty? to be honest I hated Adam for sometime for this... "

The biology of beauty is very strong. We are, at heart, animals with our primary biological compulsion being to reproduce with the most desirable mate we can find.


message 30: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "Gulhina wrote: "how can a sensible man like Adam can fall in love with Hetty? to be honest I hated Adam for sometime for this... "

The biology of beauty is very strong. We are, at heart, animals ..."


And 'opposites attract'.


message 31: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "And 'opposites attract'. "

That's not the lesson I'm taking out of AB. At least not so far. Arthur and Hetty are opposites in class, yes, but not otherwise; they're both self-delusional, both attractive, both oversexed, both romantic, both immature.

Seth and Dinah aren't opposites. They're both sober, both responsible (except for Seth leaving his tools about).

Eliot doesn't seem to me to be writing a book about the attraction of opposites, but about something quite different, which I hope to figure out when I've finished the book (I note that you said you had finished it, so maybe you know, but I don't, and I'm sure you won't spoil it!)


message 32: by MadgeUK (last edited Oct 07, 2010 10:03PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "And 'opposites attract'. "

That's not the lesson I'm taking out of AB. At least not so far. Arthur and Hetty are opposites in class, yes, but not otherwise; they're both self-del..."


I was responding lightheartedly to Gulhina's question about how could Adam fall for Hetty, not referring to any theme in the book.


message 33: by MadgeUK (last edited Oct 09, 2010 12:42AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments A thought: I guess we could also read Hetty as being a metaphor for Loamshire, the countryside and the bounty of Nature, with her peach like skin and buxom figure etc. Dinah, on the other hand, is plain and slim so more representative of the harsh landscape of the industrial area from which she came, Stonyshire. The countryside at this time was fast being encroached upon by towns, with their cruel life in the mills and mines. We can perhaps see Hetty's life as being destroyed by forces which were against Nature, against life.


message 34: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.), Founder (last edited Oct 09, 2010 02:10PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "There is an exchange in Chapter 11 about the differences between Loamshire and Stonyshire, which I had mentioned above. Loamshire represents an easygoing unreality and Stonyshire the harder truth a..."

Your quotation of those several paragraphs up in comment #21 really is a gorgeous piece of writing from Eliot, and what an interesting little dialog between Adam, Seth, and Dinah. And Dinah has to be one of the most good-hearted women of fiction too.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "And 'opposites attract'. "

That's not the lesson I'm taking out of AB. At least not so far. Arthur and Hetty are opposites in class, yes, but not otherwise; they're both self-del..."


Yeah, so far, I don't take this as a case of opposites attract at all. I do see both Hetty and Arthur as quite a bit alike (setting aside class differences, of course). Adam's near-obsession for Hetty is harder for me to grasp. She just doesn't seem right for him in any fashion. I am continually amazed that he doesn't pick up on all of her non-verbal cues too. In fact, Seth's attraction to Dinah in the early portions of the novel felt more realistic and reasonable than Adam's to Hetty. I suppose it really is simply 'biology' though.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "A thought: I guess we could also read Hetty as being a metaphor for Loamshire, the countryside and the bounty of Nature, with her peach like skin and buxom figure etc. Dinah, on the other hand, is ..."

You know, Madge, you might be on to something with this train of thought.


message 37: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Christopher wrote: "Adam's near-obsession for Hetty is harder for me to grasp. She just doesn't seem right for him in any fashion"

I suspect that we all, or at least most of us, agree. But then, isn't this part of realism? Don't we all sometimes scratch our heads wondering why this friend or relative of ours chose THAT person to get involved with, or even marry? If everybody in fiction chose the "right" person to love, wouldn't the romantic aspects of fiction be pretty dull?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Adam's near-obsession for Hetty is harder for me to grasp. She just doesn't seem right for him in any fashion"

I suspect that we all, or at least most of us, agree. But then, ..."


Touche!


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