• Nataša V. Ninčetović University of Priština in Kosovska Mitrovica Faculty of Philosophy Department of English Language and Literature



George Eliot, Ludwig Feuerbach, Auguste Comte, Adam Bede, moral, egoism, altruism, sympathy.


George Eliot wrote under the influence of continental philosophers, especially Ludwig Feuerbach and Auguste Comte. Both philosophers claim that the crucial problem of the individual is egoism, which can be transcended by means of sympathy and contact with others. According to Feuerbach and Comte, loyalty to family and community is the best way to transform initial egoism into altruism. This research is aimed at dealing with the issue of egoism in Eliot’s first novel, Adam Bede. The three main characters are analysed through the prism of the ethical concept of Feuerbach and Comte. The paper argues that at the beginning of the novel Adam Bede, Arthur Donnithorne and Hetty Sorrel symbolise different aspects of egoism. Adam and Arthur succeed to transcend their egoism through deep suffering, which is viewed as an instrument of moral development. Although critics often cite Hetty Sorrel as a typical representative of unredeemed egoism, this paper argues that she matures through suffering. The beginning of her transformation is marked by the confession of her crimes, which is the initial stage of redemption. However, with the exception of a few characters, the society of Hayslope treats her as an outcast, unable to even attempt to understand and forgive her. Still, although the importance of suffering and attachment to family are underlined in Adam Bede, the novel implies that altruism should not be equated with self-sacrifice. The protagonists, Dinah and Adam succeed in attaining personal fulfillment that is not inconsistent with the common good, that is, a certain reconciliation of egoism and altruism is accomplished.


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How to Cite

Ninčetović, N. V. . (2023). ADAM BEDE – OVERCOMING EGOISM THROUGH SUFFERING . PHILOLOGIST – Journal of Language, Literature, and Cultural Studies, 14(28), 361–372.