Adam Bede, George Eliot Observes, Our Deeds Essay

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Adam Bede, George Eliot observes,

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds; and until we know what has been or will be the peculiar combination of outward with inward facts, which constitute a man's critical actions, it will be better not to think ourselves wise about his character (412).

This statement contains a number of key ideas about human values, perceptions, and knowledge. It contains the idea that we should not judge a book by its cover, but it goes further than this. It carries within it the ancient argument about where character is found, whether formed by nature or nurture, by something inherent or something learned. It suggests that we are all equally complex and formed through the same sorts of interactions with our environment and with others. It is a compressed statement of these ideas because it is structured in the following manner, carrying the reader from the idea that we make choices and take actions because of who we are while being who we are because of the choices we make, that we cannot know the true...
...We make choices and take actions, and this process forms our character. This would seem to be a combination of the nature vs. nurture issue, suggesting that our choices first emerge from our inner nature and that the choices we make shape our character, thus influencing our character and the future choices we make. This is a circular argument, and in a sense it suggests that there is no beginning and no end but only a constant state of acting and becoming throughout our lives. The nature vs. nurture argument was always too simplistic, suggesting that only one answer was possible, when it seems more likely that both forces operate to shape us. The two forces operate without our conscious control in any case and interact to make us who we are.

This is true of everyone, for we are all formed from these same interactions, which can take place in an infinite number of combinations over a lifetime. Generally, we only…

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Works Cited

Eliot, George. Adam Bede. London: ElecBook Classics, 1998.

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