Adam Bede Revisited: Social Stigma and the Formation of Deviant Identity
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In Adam Bede, George Eliot explores the way a society divides its members into categories and how these categories contribute to the formation of an individual’s identity. In the mid-nineteenth century authors in the naturalist tradition often discussed this dialogical relationship between individual and society, the specific roles for social gaze, the labeling and degrading. Eliot shows an acute of these labels that no one shapes identity without their influence. According to Nancy Anne Marck, Adam Bede introduces the theme of “emerging social consciousness” where the characters gain broader awareness of human interdependence through an experience of suffering (447). This is particularly evident when examining Eliot’s characters of “lesser fortune.” Once we’ve investigated how Eliot portrays these negative social forces throughout the novel, the labeling and the stigmatization, we will return to how Eliot addresses the larger question permeating her novel of education: how one judges another against the backdrop of community values.
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- Eliot, George. 1980. Adam Bede. New York: Penguin Classics, Print.
- Falk, Gerhard. 2001. Stigma: How We Treat Outsiders. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books, Print.
- Foucault, Michel. 1980. “Prison Talk.” C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon. pp. 37-54.Web.
- Goffman, Erving. 1986. Stigma Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Touchstone, Print.
- Heatherton, Todd F., Robert E. Kleck, Michelle R. Hebl, Jay G. Hull. 2003. The Social Psychology of Stigma. New York: The Guilford P, Print.
- Kneale, Douglas. “Hetty’s Hanky.” 2015. ESC: English Studies in Canada 1.2: 123-150. Project MUSE. Web. 11 Dec. 2015. Web.
- Marck, Nancy Anne. 2003 “Narrative Transference and Female Narcissism: The Social Message of Adam Bede”. Studies in the Novel 35.4: 447–470. Web.
- Marr, Ryan. 2014. “Dinah Morris as Second Eve: The Fall and Redemption in Adam Bede.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 17.3: 80-102. Project MUSE. Web.
- Phelan, J. C. and B. G. Link. 2001. “Conceptualizing Stigma.” Annual Review of Sociology, 27: 363 – 85. Web.
- Scheyett, Anna. 2007. The Mark of Madness: Stigma, Serious Mental Illnesses, and Social Work. Retrieved: February 2007. Print.
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