The hero of this novel is an upright and moral carpenter. He is Seth's brother and Lisbeth's daughter. He is a great friend of the Captain, who makes him steward of his estate. Adam is in love with Hetty Sorrel.
Seth Bede is Adam's younger brother. He is also a carpenter, but, unlike his brother, he is a Methodist. Seth is very patient with his mother, and he is in love with Dinah Morris.
Lisbeth is married to Thias Bede, mother of Adam and Seth. She has a fretful personality and is always worrying, particularly about her oldest son. She is worried about either of her sons getting married because she is afraid that this will render her useless in the household.
Thias is Adam's and Seth's father. He used to be a very good father and taught his boys carpentry, but towards the end of his life he became an alcoholic. He dies by drowning in a stream early in the novel.
Adam Bede's faithful dog.
Mr. Martin Poyser (the elder)
Martin Poyser's grandfather lives with the Poyser family on their large farm. He generally just watches the action, being too old to participate.
Mr. Martin Poyser (the younger)
This dairy farmer is a jolly man whose only hard words are reserved for farmers who do not do their jobs well. Hetty is his niece, and, being very fond of Adam Bede, Martin hopes that the two might marry.
Mrs. Poyser is an excellent dairy farmer. She speaks her mind quite strongly and can be hard on her family, but generally she is fairly wise.
Hetty lives on Mr. Poyser's dairy farm becuase she is his niece. She is an extremely pretty girl, admired by Mr. Craig and Adam Bede as well as the Captain. She does not have many attractive personal qualities, however, and is very vain.
Dinah is a quiet, pious young woman who is a Methodist preacher. At the beginning of the novel, she lives at the Poyser Farm because she is Mrs. Poyser's niece. Despite the fact that she is an attractive woman, she seems to show no signs of self-consciousness while she preaches.
Totty, whose real name is Charlotte, is the Poysers' youngest child. She is a fat toddler who is quite spoiled.
A nine-year-old son of the Poysers.
A seven-year-old son of the Poysers.
Arthur Donnithorne (the Captain)
The Captain is the heir to the estate of his grandfather and therefore is the future landlord of many of the characters in the novel. At only twenty-one, he is a healthy, attractive boy who has very little self-control. He is in love with Hetty Sorrel.
Squire Donnithorne (the old Squire)
The old Squire is the Captain's grandfather. He is a formal old man who dislikes his grandson and who is disliked by most of his tenants because he manages the land badly.
Miss Lydia is a formal woman who is Arthur's aunt. Arthur surmises that his grandfather will cut her off in his will to improve Arthur's inheritance, despite the fact that Miss Lydia has waited on the old Squire for his whole life.
A stout man, Mr. Casson has been a butler for the Donnithornes for fifteen years.
Mr. Craig is the Donnithornes' gardener. He is in love with Hetty Sorrel, but his first love is hot house plants. He is vaguely Scottish; Eliot says that this is because "all French teachers are Parisian and all gardeners are Scottish."
Parson Irwine (the vicar)
The old vicar is a comfortable sort of person who has remained a bachelor for his whole life. He is not religious in an intense way, and he is respected and well liked by his parishioners. He takes very good care of his mother and invalid sister.
The parson's mother is a stately old woman. One can see her good breeding in the noble cut of her face and chin. She has no patience for unattractive people. She encourages her godson, Arthur, to marry a "handsome" woman.
The vicar's invalid sister has a very small role in the novel, usually being too sick to leave her bed.
Mr. Jonathan Burge
Mr. Burge is the master carpenter whom Adam Bede works for. Many people expect Adam to marry Mary Burge so that he can become partners with her father.
Mary is in love with Adam Bede. She is a sallow-faced, unremarkable girl.
Wiry Ben is a joker who works in the shop with the Bede brothers. He thinks that his solo dancing is very good.
Chad, the town blacksmith, has an extremely silly wife.
Chad's wife is extremely buxom and red cheeked. Like Hetty, she is extremely vain and wears gaudy earrings, which Dinah's preaching convinces her to take off temporarily.
The village shoemaker is very proud of his skills on the fiddle and plays at the Chase while Wiry Ben dances.
Timothy's Bess should really be called after her husband, who is Sandy Jim. She is the cousin of Chad's Bess.
Sandy Jim is a local man who also works in Mr. Burge's shop.
Mrs. Poyser's dead sister, Dinah's aunt. She was also a Methodist. Dinah strongly reminds Mrs. Poyser of Judith.
A contentious wheelmaker, Will Maskery was a lot less responsible until he "found" Methodism.
Molly is the Poysers' housemaid.
This young nobleman is a friend of Arthur Donnithorne's, whom he often dines with.
Mrs. Pomfret is Miss Lydia's lady's maid. Hetty has tea with her every Thursday and is learning from her how to knit lace.
Mrs. Best is the Donnithornes' housekeeper.
Bartle Massey is the slightly lame schoolmaster. He is a confirmed bachelor, but he only moved to Hayslope twenty years before, so it is unclear whether he was married previously. He teaches Adam Bede at night school.
Vixen is Bartle Massey's female dog, which has just had pups.
A possible new tenant for the old Squire.
This magistrate rides through Hayslope and hears Dinah preach there.
Adam Bede Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Adam Bede is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
In Book VI, Chapter 52, Adam tells Dinah that he loves her with his heart and soul. She turns white with a painful joy, but then he says that they must part anyway. He asks her if she feels for him as if he is more than a brother. She says...
Adam Bede is portrayed as a hard working member of Victorian England's working-class. He is study, dependable, and "upright" in his actions. He lives and works in a rustic setting, religion doesn't take priority in his...