Adam Bede:  George Eliot and Hetty Sorrel -  The ‘choice’ to publish under a male pseudonym, as women such as Mary Ann/Marian Evans (George Eliot), the Bronte sisters (Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell), and the Baroness Dudevant (George Sand) have done, is a telling decision that shows us some of the pressures these writers were under. It is also one that thus inevitably affects the reader’s perception of the work and the time period in which it was written. The actualities of a society that necessitated this sort of sexual indeterminacy, especially from women of such great intellect, character, and substance, had far reaching effects on their writing. Adam Bede is a book full of contradictions, that meld together into a harmonious but weighty whole; a testament to Eliot’s intellect. On the face of it, the novel is a pastoral tale, and yet it is also a thought provoking social study; it is moralistic, yet realistic; intellectual but sensible; and meticulously described, without becoming overwrought. The reader gets the sense that every object and activity in the story casts an indescribable shadow. Hetty Sorrel is an utterly vulnerable character, her beauty and her vanity make her weak, and yet her struggle is told in universal terms, terms of forgiveness and understanding, a combination that is disconcerting, given the moralistic temper of the times and the hard won rights and pragmatism of the author herself.

 

 

Adam Bede : George Eliot and Hetty Sorrel.

Pyrography & acrylic with lacquer finish.

48" x 48"

2006