Examine the presence of Methodism in this novel. What might you infer about Eliot's opinions about the denomination and of religion in general? Which characters seem to agree or disagree?
Analyze the relevance of British class structure in the novel. Does Arthur abuse his powers as an aristocrat? Which members of the working class seem to be acting out of place in the heirarchy? Do the events of the novel seem to reward or punish those who make good use of the hierarchy or who break out of it?
Why does Eliot use the personal pronoun "I" in this novel? Does she ever express her own opinion through any of the other characters? How does the narrative itself suggest Eliot's opinions?
What are Adam Bede's virtues and vices? What would make him ideal?
Are Hetty and Dinah polar opposites, or do they have some characteristics in common?
Eliot writes: "I would not, even if I had the choice, be the clever novelist who could create a world so much better than this, in which we get up early in the morning to do our daily work." Her novel proposed a new type of literature that examined the common people rather than heroes. Does she abide by her own rule? Which of her characters does she tend to glorify?
To what extent does the novel serve as a treatise on human nature? For example, does it teach about how people tend to behave when they are in love, jealous, lost, and so on, or should we read every character as fully idiosyncratic?
Analyze the scene of the great party at the Chase. In what way is Arthur a modern landlord? A feudal one?
Vanity is important to several characters in the novel, although the Methodists in the novel particularly condemn it. Is vanity part of Hetty's tragedy? How does it help or hurt the various characters who are sometimes guided by it?
Bartle Massey suggests a vision of family life alternative to marriage. Is his idea of a bachelor household feasible? Is it attractive to Adam or anyone else? Is it related to Dinah's choice (until the end) to remain unmarried herself?