The Feminist Polarity between Hetty Sorrell and Dinah Morris in George Eliot's Adam Bede

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Throughout Adam Bede the characters of Dinah Morris and Hetty Sorrell are compared and contrasted, albeit sometimes indirectly, both can, at times, represent the Madonna and the harlot. It is not always clear which woman is the harlot and which is the Madonna. Many critics have commented on the exchange in roles and the position of such a woman in pre-Victorian society. Dinah is a pillar of the society, a good hardworking girl who is a credit to the Poyser family, pretty but not beautiful by Hetty's standards. Dinah is unusual in that her vocation goods beyond dairy work, she is a Methodist preacher, this is the only thing frowned upon by some members of the society. On the other hand, Hetty is aesthetically beautiful, but is simple and …show more content…
It would not be correct to label Dinah a harlot at any point during the novel, she goes out of her way to be invisible to men, she must be taken as she is found; in plain but impeccably clean dresses. Many critics have thought that Dinah has a too good to be true air about her, that she is not human enough:

She is shown always in the very actions of goodness, but conscious goodness is the most difficult, but conscious goodness is the most difficult quality a novelist can portray, no doubt because though it undoubtedly exists, we all know, and all the saints have been agonisingly aware, that it cannot exist unalloyed. Dinah is too much a model of religious and moral excellence to be convincing as a human being.

Dinah may be unconvincingly good, but this is perhaps her purpose. The novel was written in 1859, but is set at least seventy years before this time; the character of Dinah reflects desirable qualities in a wife. Dinah can be considered a paradox of sorts, yes she is morally and religiously impeccable; but in order to obtain the husband she sexually desires she must give up her preaching to be his dutiful and perfect housewife. Her moral perfection has not brought her a fulfilling life; the ending does not really satisfy the reader. It does not seem correct that

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