Study Guide

Bessy Cranage in Adam Bede

By George Eliot

Bessy Cranage

Does anything good ever happen to Bessy Cranage? She's a pretty, slightly dimwitted, apparently harmless blacksmith's daughter, but she certainly takes a lot of abuse. The first time Bessy appears, Dinah has this to say about Bessy's pretty new earrings:

"They are poisoning your soul—they are dragging you down into a dark bottomless pit, where you will sink for ever." (30.58)

Whoa, there! Whoa. They're earrings, Dinah. Jeepers.

Later she runs an "arduous race" at Arthur's birthday feast and is rewarded with an "ugly, heavy gown, which felt so hot and disagreeable on this July day" (25.25, 25.32). Oof.

It's hard for us to feel as intensely for Bessy as we do for Hetty Sorrel. Hetty's problems are much bigger, and are described in more detail. And Bessy… Well, nothing good ever happens, but nothing freakishly bad happens either. That's what makes Bessy so poignant. With her passing worries and easily corrected problems, she's a foil to all the more anguished members of Hayslope.