Summary and Analysis
On a June day some years later, Seth and Dinah, with Dinah's two children, are waiting for Adam to come home. Arthur, now a colonel, has returned from the wars weakened by a fever, and Adam has gone to see him. Dinah expresses her sympathy for Arthur, and for Hetty, who died just as her term of exile ended. Adam appears, looking rather drawn. He has found Arthur changed in some ways. Arthur's past offenses have been forgiven, and though he will never forget, he is ready to resume the role of Squire when he recovers his health. Mr. and Mrs. Poyser are seen entering the yard, and the novel closes on a note of domestic serenity.
The four chief characters of the novel come together, at least through references, in the epilogue. Adam and Dinah are happy together. Arthur, having made his symbolic penance, is ready to take up a realistic and benevolent life. Hetty is dead; unlike Arthur, she has not been given a second chance. Hetty's death is functionally necessary; it places the final bit of emphasis on the moral of the novel, the expression of which Eliot gives to the other sinner, Arthur: "There's a sort of wrong that can never be made up for." With this sober warning ringing in the reader's ears, the novel ends on a peaceful, but chastened, note.