Itinerant Methodist Preacher
Combined with the fact that Mary Evans was a respected scholar, and not simply a bored housewife who wrote a story, has led me to suspect that the assignation of Dinah to her particular religious practice was an intentional device in the story, and not merely a by-product of George Eliot’s aunt being a model for the character. This thought has given me an urge to look more deeply into the symbolism of Dinah’s religious occupation. This paper will concern itself with that symbolism, and with the function of that symbolism in the book, Adam Bede.This was George Eliot’s first novel (Wiesenfarth), and perhaps she brought her aunt and wandering Methodism into the story as a kind of blessing or good luck charm, a way of bringing God’s grace onto the book. Mary Evans, after all, was raised in a strict Methodist household, which she eventually rejected, based partially on her friendship with two philosopher friends (Wiesenfarth). Yet one cannot absolutely erase one’s early religious socialization, even though Eliot later found ways to graciously integrate it without losing herself.In fact, her first published work was a translation of Das Leben Jesu (The Life of Jesus) by the German religious philosopher D. F. Strauss (Wiesenfarth). Her poetry reflected religious and moral themes. Her last novel was Daniel Derondo, in which the hero discovers and affirms his Jewish heritage (Wiesenfarth). She claimed no particular religious affiliation, but was attracted to religious exploration, personal responsibility and the betterment of humanity (Wiesenfarth). That commitment is at the core of Jewish tradition and also at the core of Methodism .Methodism comes from a Greek term, methodos, which refers to the pursuit of knowledge (Creeger).