Summary of Chapter 52: Adam and Dinah
Adam walks to Hall Farm while the family is at church. He does not go to church so he can speak to Dinah alone. Dinah blushes as usual when Adam enters. They are both awkward with each other, but finally Adam blurts out that he loves her. She trembles with joy, crying, and returns his love but explains she has to submit to God’s will to do his work. She is going away to resist temptation. She has known the perfect joy of having no personal life of her own, and she is afraid she will lose this blessedness of helping others and living in the divine will. If she has doubts about it, their love will not be a blessing.
Adam says he will not urge her against her conscience and will resign himself if he has to. She says she would like to test it out by going to Snowfield for a while to see if it is true she is called back. He agrees to the test.
They walk out to meet the Poysers coming back from church. The Poysers are surprised to see the couple walking together and wonder if they are courting. The narrator ends the chapter with a long reminiscent essay on how beautiful and slow country life was in the days of Adam Bede.
Commentary on Chapter 52
This courting scene contrasts with the clandestine and violent nature of Arthur’s and Hetty’s affair. Adam and Dinah are honest about their feelings for one another. Dinah raises the difficulty for her of her faith and work. For Adam, their love is part of God’s doing and will, but for Dinah who has known the happiness of a nun’s devotion to God, it is a temptation. She has married God, and now she does not know what to do when she is in love with a man. Adam does not fight her doubt but wisely agrees to the test. He could push, but he respects Dinah too much, and it would be the surest way to lose her. She has to wait for a clear conscience. Eliot shows an ideal relationship where a couple work things out together and meet on the soul level, rather than the level of pride and ego. They both want what is best and most unselfish.