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ADAM BEDE

This is the manuscript for George Eliot’s first full-length novel, Adam Bede (1859). It tells of carpenter Adam’s love for dairy maid, Hetty Sorrel, and her seduction by the young squire-to-be, Arthur Donnithorne. The loss of a woman’s virtue was a common topic for 19th-century novelists, but Eliot’s decision to centre the novel on a female Methodist preacher, Dinah Morris, sets Adam Bede apart from other literary works of the time. When Hetty is charged with murdering her illegitimate child, it is Dinah alone who treats the girl with real human sympathy. Eliot based the character of Dinah on her Methodist aunt, Elizabeth Evans, who in 1802 had prayed with a woman convicted for infanticide just as Dinah prays with Hetty.

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