Adam Bede

Who is Arthur Donnithorne from Adam Bede and what is their importance?

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Arthur Donnithorne is a callow, aristocratic college student of wealth and social standing. In this regard, he is unlike any of the other characters. Although not a bad person, Arthur is self-absorbed and rather calloused toward others. In many ways, he merits the label "idle rich" because his life is just a series of diversions intended for his own amusement. His membership in a militia is really a form of entertainment available to only a few upper-class British families. Arthur schemes on people, like Hetty Sorrel, to get what he wants because he is blind to the experience and concept of suffering. Having never suffered himself, Arthur lacks compassion and insight so that using other people seems as natural to him as issuing a command to a servant. Because of wealth and prestige, Arthur is viewed by some in Hayslope with resentment, by others with admiration and by Hetty Sorrel with passion. The most admirable thing he does is to procure an official pardon for Hetty when she is faced with execution on charges of child murder.