Adam Bede: Chapter 51

Summary of Chapter 51: Sunday MorningDinah is questioned by Lisbeth about her leaving. Lisbeth complains that she hasn’t long to live and will never see Dinah again. Then she launches into a topic embarrassing to Dinah: a husband. Lisbeth admits Seth is not the right husband, but asks her what she thinks of Adam? He would be a proper husband. Dinah escapes as soon as she can for the Hall Farm.When Seth comes in, Lisbeth says to him that Dinah would stay if Adam would marry her. Seth is surprised and asks Lisbeth if Dinah has said so. Lisbeth says it is written all over her.Sunday mornings are the happiest for Lisbeth, because Adam stays home and reads his Bible in the same room with her. She makes up her mind to speak to Adam about Dinah, but doesn’t know how to begin. When she sees in Adam’s Bible the picture of the angel on Christ’s tomb, she blurts out, “That’s her—that’s Dinah” (p. 499). Lisbeth uses this to start the conversation where she tells Adam he should marry Dinah; they were meant for each other, and Dinah loves him. He is struck by this idea and feels “a resurrection of his dead joy” (p. 501). He decides to talk to Seth about it since he was the one who wanted to marry Dinah. Seth is unselfish and says he will not stand in the way, but he is sure Dinah doesn’t want to marry because of her calling.

Commentary on Chapter 51Lisbeth has been a secondary character, but here she takes a part in shaping the outcome of the story. Though she is afraid of displeasing Adam, she sees right through Dinah’s feelings, and she decides to take a chance to tell Adam about it. She, like Mrs. Poyser, does not want to part with Dinah, and has always dreamed of having her for a daughter-in-law. She is very particular whom she will let in the house, not even allowing a hired servant. Dinah is Lisbeth’s own best insurance for a happy old age, but more than that, finally she has grown to the point where she wants happiness for her son.Opposed to her sons’ marriage in the beginning, she knows she hasn’t long to live, and wants to see Adam settled with a good wife. The narrator mentions that the tragedy had affected her too, that it had quieted down her selfish demands. For once, Adam listens to his mother because she is wise in this matter. His sudden conversion from being blind to love to completely open to the suggestion may strain the belief of some, but it is not uncommon in grief to be unable to imagine loving again. He was so used to Dinah as a sister that the other suggestion never directly entered his mind. Adam is a man of action, however, and does not waste time as soon as he gets the point. Seth may seem too good to be true as the completely unselfish brother without the slightest trace of jealousy, but it is in keeping with his character and religion. He has made it plain he would like to be around Dinah in any way possible.