Adam Bede By George Eliot Summary and Analysis Book IV: Chapter 32

Summary

The old Squire pays a visit to the Hall Farm and tries to talk the Poysers into accepting some alterations on their farm which would not be to their advantage. After listening for a few moments, Mrs. Poyser breaks out in a tirade in which she tells the selfish, cold old man what his tenants think of him. He is thoroughly routed and rides away, followed by the laughter of the farm servants.

Analysis

This is a comic chapter devoted to exhibiting Mrs. Poyser's skill at colorful invective, and it adds nothing to the plot. The situation developed in the chapter is somewhat contrived, and the sophistication of Mrs. Poyser's sarcasm is a bit implausible in the light of her uneducated rural background, but in this case the problems are not serious ones. The chapter is merely a vignette and its purpose is to amuse.

It does, however, forward one theme in the novel. The routing of the Squire by the farmwife illustrates again the superiority of the common man to the aristocrat. Also, the chapter provides innumerable illustrations of Mrs. Poyser's mastery of imagery and homespun wit. Note, for example, how neatly she associates the Squire's spiritual poverty with his miserliness through a metaphor: "An' you may be right i' thinking it'll take but little to save your soul, for it'll be the smallest savin' y' iver made, wi' all your scrapin'."

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