Silas Marner Essay, Research Paper^^^^^^^^^^ GEORGE ELIOT: THE AUTHOR AND HER TIMES George Eliot was non her existent name. She was born in 1819 as Marian ( or Mary Anne ) Evans, the youngest kid of a comfortable estate director in the rural English Midlands. Even as a kid, it was evident that she was really bright & # 8211 ; and unluckily homely. She craved fondness, but her proud, strong-minded female parent showed her small love.
Her male parent was fond of her but was frequently excessively busy to pay her any attending. And so she clung in a heartfelt way to her older brother Isaac, her changeless childhood comrade. Playing in the hayfields and by the riversides of an good, fertile countryside, she found felicity of a sort. When they grew up, nevertheless, Isaac became shockable and conservative, and he felt small in common with his studious sister.
Marian had become merely a provincial, middle-class old amah. In a society where wifehood and maternity were still the chief functions for adult females, an single girl in her mid-twentiess like Marian was in many ways a second-class citizen. Her older brothers and sisters all moved off and started their ain households. After Mrs. Evans died, Marian was left entirely with her male parent. In ailing wellness, he retired, left the state place Marian loved, and moved to the nearby metropolis of Coventry. There, Marian & # 8217 ; s yearss were spent in charitable & # 8220 ; good plants & # 8221 ; and in maintaining house.
Between jam-making and needlecraft, sing the hapless, and nursing her crotchety male parent, she had small clip to herself. Yet she managed someway to read books & # 8211 ; poesy ( particularly Wordsworth and Shakespeare ) , novels, and dense plants of divinity and doctrine, in several linguistic communications. Soon, nevertheless, Marian made friends with Coventry & # 8217 ; s most progressive minds, who encouraged her rational involvements.
One twenty-four hours she calmly announced to her male parent that she would no longer travel to church with him, since she didn & # 8217 ; t believe in God any longer. Apparently this alteration had been brewing in her head for some clip, but it was a surprise and an indignation to conventional Mr. Evans. Merely after several hebdomads of household tenseness did Marian spring in, concluding with herself that, if she didn & # 8217 ; t believe in Christianity, it was no wickedness to travel to church merely to maintain the peace. Rejecting Christianity was still a audacious thing for a individual adult female to make in nineteenth-century England.
It would destroy her matrimony chances, every bit good as her opportunities of obtaining a learning occupation ( learning was one of the few callings open to adult females ) . Fortunately, nevertheless, Marian & # 8217 ; s new friends introduced her to a circle of people who shared some of her irregular positions. While most of the English still followed Queen Victoria in continuing the values of place, church, and imperium, new thoughts were get downing to brush through England.
Scientific finds were shattering established thoughts about the natural universe. ( Charles Darwin & # 8217 ; s revolutionary On the Origin Of Species by Means of Natural Selection would be published in 1859. ) Not merely nature, but human societal systems as good, were subjected to scientific analysis. Theories such as societal Darwinism, rational humanitarianism, and Marxism would finally turn out of this. Philosophers were proposing wholly new moral systems to travel with the radical scientific positions. In topographic point of an orderly existence ruled by God, justness, and the category system, these Victorians contemplated the possibility of a huge, black nothingness where nil but scientific rules applied. This was a judicious environment for Marian Evans. Her new friends, impressed by her powerful head, gave her a sense of dignity.
Finally she was asked to interpret a book, so to compose reappraisals for rational diaries. After her male parent died she moved to London and began to redact one such diary. In the midst of the literary scene, admired by celebrated people, she came into her ain. Interesting work forces paid her attending ; she had a twosome of awkward love affairs. Then she fell in love with George Henry Lewes, a outstanding journalist and critic & # 8211 ; and a married adult male. Lewes fell in love with her, excessively, but under the Torahs of those yearss it was impossible for him to acquire a divorce, even though his married woman was flagrantly unfaithful to him. Marian, soberly weighing all factors, decided to withstand society and unrecorded with Lewes. This made Marian a figure of dirt in London.
No & # 8220 ; nice & # 8221 ; ladies would have her in their places ( though due to a cruel dual criterion Lewes was still invited ) . Merely a few extremist adult females and progressive work forces kept up friendly relationships with Marian. Her household disowned her. In her isolation she depended on Lewes & # 8217 ; loyal, protective love. They had decided non to hold kids ( although she shortly became a 2nd female parent to his boies ) .
Astutely, Lewes realized that Marian needed something to prosecute her emotions every bit good as her huge mind. He began to press her to compose fiction. Self-conscious, afraid of unfavorable judgment or rejection, Marian wrote her first narrative, & # 8220 ; Amos Barton, & # 8221 ; in 1856. Before she would direct it to a publishing house, nevertheless, she and Lewes invented a pen name & # 8211 ; George Eliot.
She didn & # 8217 ; t want to print under her existent name, fearing readers would read it merely because of her disgraceful repute. She intentionally chose a adult male & # 8217 ; s name, excessively. Many Victorian adult females wrote novels, but these were frequently looked down upon as little, feminine narratives. Marian hoped her books would be judged earnestly if readers thought a adult male had written them. ( Similarly, a few old ages before, the Bronte sisters had signed male pen names to their novels Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. ) Although George Eliot & # 8217 ; s first narratives were good reviewed, her foremost full-length novel, Adam Bede, was a runaway success. Set in the Warwickshire countryside where Marian had grown up, it vibrated with a simple pragmatism wholly new in English literature.
No 1 earlier had cast ordinary farm labourers as chief characters in a novel, or had drawn such complex psychological portrayals of them. What & # 8217 ; s more, the book & # 8217 ; s secret plan centered around a farm miss & # 8217 ; s seduction and her slaying of her illicit kid. Even without Marian Evans & # 8217 ; name attached, this was lively material. By 1860, George Eliot was a celebrated, beloved writer. Yet Marian Evans was still a societal castaway, and it began to weigh on her. Her first novels sold good, but she and Lewes weren & # 8217 ; t rich. ( He still had to back up his married woman and her kids. ) If anything, success merely increased the force per unit area Marian put on herself to compose an even better book following clip.
Although the public loved her realistic narratives of English countrified life, Marian was afraid of acquiring stuck in a rut, and so she planned a new novel set in Renaissance Italy. But the heavy research it required was bogging her down. Lewes needed to remain in London for his journalistic work.
They lived there in a dumpy rented house, surrounded by the grey cityscape. Marian felt cooped up, stifled, cut off from her roots in the state. Then a vision came to her out of her childhood. It was a image of an old linen-weaver, with a sad look on his face, set under the heavy bag on his shoulder. Floodgates of feeling opened in her.
She postponed the Italian novel and began to compose Silas Marner. Contemporary readers were delighted with Silas Marner because it returned to the countrified characters they & # 8217 ; 500 enjoyed in Adam Bede. Yet Silas Marner was truly a measure frontward. Behind this simple portrayal of state life lies a strict scrutiny of the moral forces that drive the existence.
Marian believed that authors should non simply entertain the populace, but that they had a responsibility to learn their readers moral truths every bit good. Having lost her Christian religion, she & # 8217 ; vitamin D replaced it with a doctrine that kindness, honestness, and bravery were necessary for human endurance, an ethical codification that runs throughout Silas Marner. She continued to research this credo in her ulterior novels, Felix Holt, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. Finally, the illustriousness of George Eliot & # 8217 ; s work cancelled out her societal shame. Even Queen Victoria & # 8217 ; s girl begged to run into her.
Marian and Lewes remained devoted to each other for 25 old ages, and this eventually won them as much regard as if they & # 8217 ; d been lawfully married. In fact, after Lewes & # 8217 ; decease in 1878, when Marian married a much younger adult male, John Cross, many of her fans were upset. They felt she was being unpatriotic to Lewes & # 8217 ; memory. In her ain clip, George Eliot was the most popular writer in Britain, more admired even than Dickens, in malice of her ill-famed personal life. Her literary repute dipped for several old ages after her decease in 1880, nevertheless, as the public gustatory sensation moved off from long, moralising novels. Her focal point on characters & # 8217 ; psychological procedures had paved the manner for the & # 8220 ; modern novel & # 8221 ; ( both Henry James and Marcel Proust claimed a debt to her ) , but the experimental fiction of the early 20th century made her prose manner seem antique. Then one of the main experimentalists, Virginia Woolf, helped to reconstruct Eliot & # 8217 ; s repute.
She wrote an essay praising Middlemarch as & # 8220 ; one of the few books written for adults. & # 8221 ; Eliot has been considered one of the great authors of all time since. Among her novels, Silas Marner is most frequently chosen for pupils to read because it is the shortest and, on the surface, the simplest. But it, excessively, is full of grownup wisdom. Though its societal doctrines may no longer seem every bit extremist as they did a century ago, this is still an eye-opening, true vision of the manner the universe works.
^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: THE PLOT Silas Marner, a linen-weaver, works in his lone bungalow by a stone-pit outside the English small town of Raveloe. In a flashback, you learn that Marner came to Raveloe 15 old ages before from a big industrial town where he was portion of a fundamentalist Christian religious order. But one dark, Silas had fallen into a enchantment while watching over the deathbed of a church senior.
Silas & # 8217 ; best friend stole a bag of money from the deceasing adult male and blamed the larceny on Silas. Their religious order tried the instance by pulling tonss, to allow God demo who was guilty. When this method convicted Silas, he lost his religion in God and shortly left the metropolis. Ending up in Raveloe, he kept to himself and worked long hours. Slowly he began to roll up gold, and this became his one intent in life. Godfrey Cass, boy of the small town squire, at this clip needs money. His younger brother Dunstan has borrowed a big amount from Godfrey and now he & # 8217 ; s lost it. But the money belongs to their male parent, and Godfrey has to refund it himself.
Otherwise Dunstan will state their male parent Godfrey & # 8217 ; s secret & # 8211 ; that he & # 8217 ; s married to a dependent barmaid. Godfrey gives his favourite Equus caballus to Dunstan to sell for the money, but Dunstan heedlessly kills the Equus caballus in a hunting accident. On his manner place, Dunstan passes Silas Marner & # 8217 ; s bungalow and sees it empty, with the door unfastened. Walking in, he finds Silas & # 8217 ; cache of gold and bargains it, vanishing into the dark. When Silas returns place and finds he & # 8217 ; s been robbed, he is devastated. Godfrey learns that his Equus caballus was found dead. When Dunstan doesn & # 8217 ; t return, he explains to their male parent about the money. Squire Cass is angry with Dunstan, but he doesn & # 8217 ; t investigation into why Godfrey lent his shiftless brother the money.
He does coerce Godfrey to get married his sweetie Nancy Lammeter, and Godfrey, still concealing his matrimony, hopes someway he can still get married Nancy. Though desolated by his loss, Silas is drawn doser to human society by the understanding of the villagers, particularly his neighbour Dolly Winthrop. Dunstan has still non returned place & # 8211 ; his household and friends assume he has merely run off.
On New Year & # 8217 ; s Eve, at Squire Cass & # 8217 ; one-year large party, Nancy Lammeter avoids Godfrey, experiencing injury that he hasn & # 8217 ; Ts proposed to her. While he tries to court Nancy, outside in the snow Godfrey & # 8217 ; s married woman is heading toward the house. She intends to coerce Godfrey to admit her by looking at the party with their kid. But dependence overcomes her ; she takes a dosage of opium and passes out in the snow.
Her two-year-old girl wanders off, attracted by the light reflecting from a nearby bungalow. It is Marner & # 8217 ; s place & # 8211 ; he has fallen into another enchantment and left his door unfastened. When he comes to, he sees the small miss, her hair reflecting so brilliantly that at first he thinks his lost gold has as if by magic returned. After happening the female parent in the snow, Silas goes to the Squire & # 8217 ; s house to bring the physician. Acknowledging the kid in Silas & # 8217 ; weaponries, Godfrey guiltily joins the deliverance party, but happening his married woman dead, he keeps her individuality a secret. Silas is determined to maintain the kid, like a hoarded wealth he has found. He names her Eppie after his ain sister, and he even takes her to church to be christened.
His attention for Eppie forces him to go portion of small town life. His love for her alterations his personality. As Eppie grows up, Godfrey watches her silently, and on occasion helps Silas out with money. But he doesn & # 8217 ; t acknowledge her, because now that he & # 8217 ; s free, he has married Nancy. Sixteen old ages base on balls. Silas and Eppie are merrily devoted to each other.
Dolly Winthrop & # 8217 ; s boy, Aaron, is Eppie & # 8217 ; s sweetie. But at the Cass house, Nancy worries about her matrimony. After one spontaneous abortion, she hasn & # 8217 ; t been able to gestate a kid, and Godfrey is wracked with letdown. He & # 8217 ; s been pressing her to follow Eppie, but Nancy feels it & # 8217 ; s against the will of God to follow a kid who is non her ain. Then the stone-pit beside Silas & # 8217 ; bungalow is drained to make new Fieldss.
Dunstan & # 8217 ; s skeleton is discovered at the underside, seizing Silas & # 8217 ; gold. Shaken by the sight, Godfrey tells Nancy the truth about his first matrimony. To his surprise, she agrees to follow Eppie, Godfrey & # 8217 ; s existent girl. They go to Marner & # 8217 ; s bungalow with their proposal. Though Silas & # 8217 ; gold has been restored to him, he & # 8217 ; s distraught at the chance of losing his 2nd, more cherished hoarded wealth, Eppie. But he lets Eppie do her ain pick & # 8211 ; and she chooses to remain with Silas.
Godfrey and Nancy return place, sad but reconciled. In the spring, Eppie marries Aaron and they walk back to Silas & # 8217 ; bungalow to populate with him. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: SILAS MARNER When she foremost conceived of the narrative of Silas Marner, George Eliot thought instantly of one of her favourite poets, William Wordsworth.
He was the first to demo state life realistically in poesy, as Eliot was the first in prose fiction. To some grade, Silas Marner is a typical Wordsworthian hero & # 8211 ; a simple, instinctual animal, with limited instruction and imaginativeness, whose life has a natural self-respect. But a fresh plants otherwise from a verse form, and Silas Marner is an improbable hero for a novel. It isn & # 8217 ; t merely that he & # 8217 ; s hapless, although before George Eliot few writers cast working common people in major functions in novels. It isn & # 8217 ; t merely that he & # 8217 ; s skinny and picket, with pouching brown eyes & # 8211 ; physically unattractive heroes, like Shakespeare & # 8217 ; s Richard III or Cervantes & # 8217 ; Don Quixote, can do powerful literary stuff.
And it isn & # 8217 ; t merely that he & # 8217 ; s a lone wolf and an foreigner in Raveloe. Foreigners have made great heroes throughout literature, from Shakespeare & # 8217 ; s Othello to Emily Bronte & # 8217 ; s Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights to R. P. McMurphy in Kesey & # 8217 ; s One Flew Over the Cuckoo & # 8217 ; s Nest. These, nevertheless, are magnetic, complex personalities. Silas Marner is non. Yet George Eliot gives this simple linen-weaver all the attending most writers save for their most glamourous characters.
Some readers see Silas as a fairy-tale character, like the typical hapless old woodcutter who endures poorness and wretchedness in alone silence for old ages. In this, he is besides like a scriptural character, Job. ( Silas, nevertheless, loses his religion when he is unjustly punished, whereas Job heroically hangs on to his religion while God tests him with unit of ammunitions of enduring. ) Silas merely seems the toy of some great force steering the existence, whose program is cryptic and possibly even unjust. He & # 8217 ; s capable to cryptic tantrums that rob him of his senses for proceedingss at a clip. He does nil to merit being expelled from his fold or holding his bride-to-be Sarah interrupt off their battle.
He does nil to merit being robbed 15 old ages subsequently by Dunstan Cass. And he does nil to merit happening Eppie. These things merely go on to him, like enchantments or miracles, transforming his life.
This storybook quality is suggested in the book & # 8217 ; s opening transition, which seems to depict a charming other universe. Soon, nevertheless, Eliot shifts to a more realistic position. She explains, as an anthropologist might, how superstitious state common people are. She talks about the linen-weavers in sociological footings, as & # 8220 ; emigres from the town into the country. & # 8221 ; Then you foremost see Silas in his bungalow, weaving off while small town male childs peer oddly in the Windowss. He doesn & # 8217 ; t need to be realistic, some readers argue. The point is that you are asked to suit this bizarre animal into a realistic societal context.
The villagers see him as a charming figure & # 8211 ; they say he works for the Satan & # 8211 ; but this is a remark on their superstitiousness, non on Silas. As you read, see how his accomplishments & # 8211 ; as a weaver or as a herb-healer & # 8211 ; are regarded by the villagers. Watch how his heartache over his robbery and his attention of Eppie pull him into small town life. Other readers place more accent on the transitions where Eliot dissects Silas & # 8217 ; psychological procedures. She explains how he felt when he left Lantern-Yard, how he became a miser, how he reacts to the larceny of his gold, how Eppie & # 8217 ; s presence heals him and draws him back into the mainstream of life. She gives you a medical ground for his tantrums and shows you how his hapless vision frequently confuses him.
In comparing to her analysis of Godfrey Cass & # 8217 ; head, of class, Silas & # 8217 ; psychological science seems fundamental. But those who think Silas is realistic point out that Eliot is seeking to portray a limited head stunted by a hapless instruction and a life-time of ceaseless work. The argument over Silas & # 8217 ; pragmatism goes on and on. But one thing seems clear & # 8211 ; Eliot is sympathetic toward him. She invariably shifts from his position to that of the community environing him and back once more, to demo how misunderstood he is. She reminds you that he one time had a female parent and a sister and a childhood.
Silas doesn & # 8217 ; t act in expansive sweeping gestures, but Eliot interprets the strong emotions lying behind his timid small actions. Therefore, by the clip he makes his meek, bumbling visual aspect at the Rainbow to describe his larceny, you & # 8217 ; ve already seen him go through an internal torment of incredulity and desperation at place. Even though he softly tells Eppie that she herself must take between him and her existent male parent, Godfrey, Eliot makes you experience how difficult this is for Silas, how devastated he would be if he lost her. Though he is merely a simple linen-weaver, she feels his narrative is deserving stating. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: GODFREY CASS Godfrey is in many ways the direct antonym of Silas. He & # 8217 ; s immature, fine-looking, comfortable, and capturing. The villagers admire him, even when they suspect he isn & # 8217 ; t moving right. Unlike Silas, who & # 8217 ; s entirely in the universe, Godfrey has excessively much household & # 8211 ; a gruff male parent, a troublesome brother, a married woman and kid he doesn & # 8217 ; T want, and a sweetie uneasily waiting for him to suggest.
Silas works difficult, but Godfrey has no peculiar work to make. While Silas endures his expatriate from society, Godfrey is impatient and a moral coward. Whereas Silas is unjustly punished, clip and once more Godfrey manages to get away penalty, even for wickednesss he has committed. Some readers, hence, see Godfrey as the scoundrel of this novel.
His failing sets Dunstan on a way that ends with Dunstan robbing Silas. While Silas is sorrowing over his lost gold, Godfrey is relieved because Dunstan has disappeared. He is relieved, excessively, when his married woman Molly is found dead in the snow, because it clears the manner for him to get married Nancy Lammeter. At the terminal of the book, Godfrey egotistically tries to take Eppie off from Silas. But he & # 8217 ; s eventually punished, by Eppie & # 8217 ; s rejection, for holding lied to the universe for so many old ages. Yet other readers look beyond this formal construction, in which Godfrey plays a scoundrel & # 8217 ; s function, to judge whether he is truly a nefarious individual. In his first scene, they point out, he appears with his indurate brother Dunstan, who makes Godfrey look sensitive and painstaking by comparing. Godfrey seems to cognize what is right, though he & # 8217 ; s frequently excessively weak to make it.
When you see his place environment, you can understand Godfrey & # 8217 ; s deficiency of moral fibre. When Eliot traces the bantam mental stairss by which he talks himself out of making the right thing, the procedure is someway easy to understand & # 8211 ; hasn & # 8217 ; t everyone rationalized like this at times? His love for Nancy is echt, and her love for him testifies to something good in his nature. Once they & # 8217 ; rhenium married, he makes a all right hubby, except for his letdown over their childlessness ( which he tries to conceal from her ) . He does hold fatherlike feelings for Eppie, and he watches her grow up with a changeless sense of sorrow.
To these readers, Godfrey is a good but weak adult male whose destiny embodies the lesson of the novel. As you read, for illustration, the scene on New Year & # 8217 ; s Eve when Silas appears with the baby Eppie, conceive of how other characters judge Godfrey. Just as Eliot gives you particular understanding for Silas, she gives you a particular insider & # 8217 ; s position of Godfrey & # 8217 ; s failing.
You know his worst urges & # 8211 ; the side that most of us ne’er show to the universe. As you read, decide for yourself whether Godfrey is the scoundrel or the tragic hero of this novel. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: NANCY LAMMETER For several chapters, you don & # 8217 ; t really run into Nancy & # 8211 ; you merely hear of her as the miss Godfrey wants to get married.
She & # 8217 ; s presented as the proper, socially respectable spouse for him, as opposed to his secret married woman Molly. Even crude Squire Cass approves of her. Sing what you are shown of the upperclass universe she belongs to, how do you experience about Nancy before you meet her? When Nancy eventually appears in Chapter 11, you may be in for a surprise. Eliot enters Nancy & # 8217 ; s ideas, to demo that she & # 8217 ; s a gentle, sensitive miss, insecure and confused about Godfrey & # 8217 ; s wooing. Then you see her through the eyes of the stylish, town-bred Gunn sisters.
They see that she is reasonably, well-bred, and neatly dressed. However, she disapproves of their decollete frocks, and they disapprove of her state idiom & # 8211 ; she is clearly portion of her state environment. You can see the marks of difficult work on Nancy & # 8217 ; s custodies. In general, Eliot describes Nancy & # 8217 ; s looks and character in glowing footings. Her lone mistakes, Eliot tells you, are a touch of pride and inflexibleness.
Having a positive position of Nancy may do you experience more kindly toward the upper category in general ( notice that the work forces at the Rainbow, excessively, speak well of the Lammeters ) . It may besides give you more sympathy for Godfrey. She seems to be a good influence on him. On the other manus, are her moral criterions excessively high? She keeps Godfrey at arm & # 8217 ; s length because she & # 8217 ; s heard bad rumours about him. Even after Molly has died and he is free to get married Nancy, Godfrey is loath to state her about Molly because he fears her disapproval.
Later, Nancy & # 8217 ; s rigorous codification besides keeps her from holding to follow a kid, which creates the lone sadness in her matrimony to Godfrey. As you read, see: Is Nancy a good moral illustration or are her rigorous rules a defect in her character? ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: DOLLY WINTHROP Dolly represents Raveloe & # 8217 ; s values of what an person should be. She & # 8217 ; s hardworking, adept, and so efficient that she has clip left over to care for her neighbour Silas. She doesn & # 8217 ; t hesitate to give advice and acquire involved with other people & # 8217 ; s lives. She is maternally, non merely toward her ain kid Aaron but toward Eppie. As a married woman, she & # 8217 ; s tolerant of her hubby & # 8217 ; s imbibing but reasonably independent. She knows she & # 8217 ; s no bookman, but she earns great regard from Silas for her ability to see affairs clearly, about instinctively. Dolly & # 8217 ; s friendly relationship with Silas demonstrates concretely how the small town bit by bit accepts him.
But Dolly serves another map, excessively & # 8211 ; she is the interpreter for Raveloe faith, keeping it up against Silas & # 8217 ; Lantern-Yard beliefs. Dolly believes in faith without cognizing the all right points of philosophy. While the rites of the church comfort her, she concentrates on good workss here on Earth instead than on a relationship with God. Her construct of God is about heathen, a fuzzed vision of & # 8220 ; Them up above. & # 8221 ; But with true provincial wisdom, she sees a Godhead form in events, working out over long old ages. She makes Silas look upon his life with this sort of long-range position, demoing him that all his sorrows were merely a way taking to his happening Eppie.
^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: EPPIE On the rubric page of Silas Marner, George Eliot placed a citation from Wordsworth & # 8217 ; s poem & # 8220 ; Michael & # 8221 ; : A kid, more than all other gifts That Earth can offer to worsening adult male, Brings hope with it, and advanced ideas. In the novel, that prognostication is fulfilled by Eppie, the abandoned kid that Silas Marner adopts. Symbolically, she is the aureate hoarded wealth that replaces his stolen gold.
Psychologically, she is the force that pulls Silas out of his isolation and restores him to harmony with the human race, every bit good as with his ain yesteryear. Although Eppie fulfills these maps in the novel, she is besides an interesting character in her ain right. She is credible as a yearling, rolling off from her careless female parent toward a glistening visible radiation. Her demands are simple & # 8211 ; she & # 8217 ; s hungry and her pess are wet & # 8211 ; and she clings fondly to Silas one time he has taken attention of these demands. Subsequently, you see her as an active small kid, acquiring into anything that & # 8217 ; s in her range. Pretty Eppie is light-haired like her biological male parent, Godfrey.
She & # 8217 ; s no common small town miss, though Eliot says this is the consequence of her loving environment, non her upperclass blood. In her simple emotions and her strong fond regards, Eppie is like her adoptive male parent, Silas. But she besides has alone qualities, associated throughout the novel with animate beings, flowers, and nature. In the Wordsworth citation, a kid is said to be a gift of Earth & # 8211 ; and Eppie is portion of that natural premium. If Silas is like the hapless old woodcutter in a fairy narrative, so Eppie is like the woodcutter & # 8217 ; s girl & # 8211 ; a beautiful, golden-haired miss who & # 8217 ; s truly a princess in camouflage. George Eliot turns the fairy narrative on its caput, though, because this princess doesn & # 8217 ; t run into a fine-looking prince. When her existent male parent shows up to offer her a life of wealths, she rejects him in favour of the hapless old woodcutter. The adult male she marries is merely a brawny immature nurseryman, Aaron Winthrop, whom she loves more like a brother than a lover.
But in this novel & # 8217 ; s strategy of things, that means she will populate merrily of all time after. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: DUNSTAN CASS If Godfrey is non the scoundrel of this novel, possibly his younger brother Dunstan is. Godfrey & # 8217 ; s wickednesss are all inactive & # 8211 ; he decides non to make something & # 8211 ; whereas Dunstan really commits bad workss. He squanders the money Godfrey lends him, so he destroys Godfrey & # 8217 ; s Equus caballus while runing. Finally, he steals Silas & # 8217 ; money. What motivates Dunstan? Eliot shows you the turns and bends of his logical thinking, merely as she does Godfrey & # 8217 ; s. Both think egotistically, but while Godfrey is cognizant of moral considerations, Dunstan merely calculates what he can acquire off with. Eliot shows him largely in upperclass scenes, so his frailties seem a merchandise of his category.
Yet even his ain household and friends don & # 8217 ; t seem to care when Dunstan disappears. His moniker, Dunsey, sounds like & # 8220 ; dunderhead, & # 8221 ; and Dunstan doesn & # 8217 ; t seem really brilliantly. He allows himself to be propelled by fortunes, which he thinks of as & # 8220 ; luck.
& # 8221 ; He doesn & # 8217 ; t secret plan to rob Silas, but when the chance comes his manner, he takes it. Soon after, nevertheless, he falls into the stone-pit and is drowned. Is this bad fortune & # 8211 ; or a fitting penalty for his offense? ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: SQUIRE CASS In Squire Cass, Eliot embodies what she sees as the worst features of the English aristocracy & # 8211 ; the upper category of state society. He bullies his boies and he patronizes the common people of Raveloe.
He & # 8217 ; s dull-witted and shockable. He isn & # 8217 ; t hard-working and his pleasances are rough & # 8211 ; eating ruddy meat, sloping ale, and doing obscene gags. ( Note that his last name sounds like the word & # 8220 ; crass. & # 8221 ; ) Squire Cass is a great adult male in the community because of his familial place. The hapless ne’er inquiry his uneconomical life. But Eliot does, merely as she inquiries the manner he has raised his boies. Godfrey wishes his male parent had disciplined him more.
You & # 8217 ; ll have to make up one’s mind whether you blame Squire Cass for the tragic events brought approximately by his contrary boies. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: AARON WINTHROP When Aaron foremost comes with his female parent Dolly to see Silas, he & # 8217 ; s still a little kid. Silas regards him as an foreign animal, but this brush foreshadows the impact Eppie will hold upon Silas. When he & # 8217 ; s turn up, Aaron becomes Eppie & # 8217 ; s sweetie ( although she doesn & # 8217 ; t seem sexually attracted to him ) . Like Eppie, he is in touch with nature, a talented nurseryman. Some readers think Aaron is a unlifelike figure, a stereotype of the manful immature labourer whom Eppie should take over a life with Godfrey. Yet others think that his sort, brotherlike fondness for Eppie represents Eliot & # 8217 ; s thought of perfect, wholesome love. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: PRISCILLA LAMMETER When blunt-spoken, dumpy Priscilla appears beside her sister Nancy, Nancy & # 8217 ; s beauty and grace are all the more apparent.
These sisters show a strong household fondness for each other, as the Cass brothers do non. Together with their male parent, they demonstrate that strong household love does be in the upper category. Priscilla defines even more strongly than Nancy certain positive traits of the aristocracy. She is hard-working, practical, and devoted to farming. She doesn & # 8217 ; t set on upperclass poses. While some readers feel she & # 8217 ; s excessively ill-mannered and opinionated, others feel that Eliot wanted her that manner, to demo that, in the state, the taking households may non be every bit refined as you would anticipate. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: MOLLY FARREN Godfrey & # 8217 ; s unfortunate first married woman is seen merely briefly, in Chapter 12. Up until so she has merely been a nuisance to Godfrey, but now you see her as a life character, fighting through the snow.
Her end is the Red House where she hopes to hold her retaliation on Godfrey. Yet she seems like a victim herself, instead than a strong retaliator. She has flickers of motherly tenderness, which about stop her from taking her fatal dosage of opium. She is excessively weak to defy her dependence, nevertheless, and shortly meets her destiny. Is she the victim of her limited background, Godfrey & # 8217 ; s disregard, and her dependence? Or do you believe she, like Godfrey, is morally to fault for taking the easy manner out? ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: THE MEN AT THE RAINBOW In classical Grecian calamities, a group of citizens called the Chorus remarks upon the action of the chief characters.
The group of work forces who meet at the Rainbow service this map in Silas Marner. Their conversation defines the Raveloe values and gives you a sense of how the chief characters fit into the society. The scenes of the aristocracy at the Red House party in Chapter 11 define another portion of Raveloe society. But the work forces from the Rainbow besides appear here, as witnesss. They are the base of state wisdom that Eliot uses as a moral criterion. This is a to the full fleshed-out societal group, with a whole scope of personalities.
There & # 8217 ; s Dowlas the know-it-all horseshoer, the sarcastic wheeler Ben Winthrop, the easy-going meatman Lundy, the old codger Mr. Macey, the deputy clerk Tookey who & # 8217 ; s the butt of their gags, and the landlord Mr. Snell who moderates and keeps the peace. Think about groups of people you socialize with & # 8211 ; wear & # 8217 ; t they interact in typical functions like this? ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: Setting The gap of Silas Marner suggests a universe of fable and myth & # 8211 ; a pastoral countryside untouched by the modern universe, where figures are larger than life. But bit by bit Eliot establishes that this narrative occurs in the first old ages of the 19th century, during the Napoleonic wars, when George III was King of England. This is somewhat before Eliot & # 8217 ; s ain childhood.
It & # 8217 ; s besides before the Reform Act of 1832, which many Englishmen felt marked the terminal of an epoch ( as Americans today may see the bombardment of Hiroshima or the Vietnam War ) . It represented for her an age of artlessness. The landscape is the agrarian state of the English Midlands where George Eliot grew up. The villagers of Raveloe live in isolation merely because of their antique imposts & # 8211 ; they truly aren & # 8217 ; t that far from the remainder of civilisation. Upperclass characters, such as the Casses, freque ntly travel to neighboring towns. In general, the two classes in Raveloe inhabit different worlds.
The Rainbow pub is the center of the common folks’ world, and Squire Cass’ Red House is the center of the gentry’s world. The Raveloe gentry are representatives of an ancient British social class–the “squirearchy,” well-off rural landowners who wielded local political power and stood independent of the aristocracy. By Eliot’s own time, this class had nearly been obliterated. Raveloe’s class system is smoothly integrated, however. Upperclass men drink at the Rainbow, too, and villagers are invited to the Red House parties. They all hear the same gossip. Everyone meets at church.
Silas Marner, in contrast, comes from a large industrial town, though he stayed within a smaller community there, his religious sect. While his hometown is a portrait of the “new” industrialized city of the nineteenth century, his sect is a portrait of the fanatical Evangelical or Puritan denominations that had challenged the established Church of England since the sixteenth century. (Eliot herself had briefly been influenced by Evangelicals.) The customs of such a place are totally different from those of Raveloe, so Silas is branded an alien. Therefore, he lives outside the village, in a cottage beside a dangerous, desolate stone-pit. After Eppie enters his life, however, a garden blooms around its walls, signifying the roots he has put down at last.
^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: THEMES The following are major themes of Silas Marner. 1. LUCK AND FATE Are some people simply luckier than others? Or is there an overall justice ruling life? Different characters in this book answer these questions differently.
Dunstan Cass trusts his native good luck, while Godfrey nervously waits to see if his luck will be good or bad. Neither believes in a system of just rewards and punishment, until years later when Godfrey accepts his childlessness as a divine punishment. Dolly Winthrop trusts blindly to the wisdom of “Them” above, but she does believe that good deeds on Earth are fairly rewarded. Silas, however, used to believe in just rewards in his Lantern-Yard days, and his faith was cruelly disappointed. He seems to be the victim of a blind destiny–even Eppie comes to him like a blessing out of nowhere. As you follow this theme through the book, notice its relation to religion (see Theme 2). Consider not only what characters say, but also how their lives eventually work out in the plot.
2. RELIGION Under the name of Christianity, many different faiths exist in Silas Marner. Eliot did not believe in a divine being herself, yet most of her public probably did. How does she present organized religion in this book? On the one hand there is Silas with his joyless, strict Lantern-Yard faith. On the other hand is Dolly with her buoyant, almost pagan Raveloe beliefs. Nancy Lammeter’s clear-cut beliefs show how established doctrine can sometimes become too rigid.
At times, Eliot implies that religion is no better than superstition. At other times, she sympathetically describes how church rituals comfort the faithful. Religion binds a community like Raveloe together–even Silas feels lost when he breaks with his sect. Yet many readers feel he seems stronger for having lost his faith. He never really regains a belief in God, even after he joins the church in Raveloe. His “redemption” is a product of human, rather than heavenly, love. What does George Eliot seem to propose as the guiding force of the universe? 3. HUMAN AFFECTIONS What kinds of human ties are important in this novel? There are family ties–weak at the Casses’ house but strong for the Lammeters.
The bonds of parent and child are especially important, whether they are biological (as with Dolly and Aaron Winthrop) or adoptive (as with Eppie and Silas). When Eppie has to choose between her biological father, Godfrey, and her adoptive father, Silas, what factors count most with her? Wholesome human affections can restore a damaged personality like Silas’. Yet stunted affections, like those at Squire Cass’ house, can damage a basically good person like Godfrey. Look at the way larger communities are bound together, too: Lantern-Yard, the city Silas came from, Raveloe as a whole, or the upperclass society of Raveloe. 4. CHANGE In Eliot’s view, all change is the product of a multitude of tiny factors.
The process is so complex that mere humans cannot presume to control it. To examine this theory, Eliot chose for her main setting a community with ingrained old beliefs, a place where change comes slowly. She shows how gradually the collective “mind” of village opinion shifts until it accepts Silas. Many individual characters, too, have fixed habits of thought that are hard to change. Consider, for example, Squire Cass, Nancy Lammeter, old Mr. Macey, Dolly Winthrop, Godfrey’s wife Molly, and Silas himself. Choosing a long time span for her story, Eliot shows people changing gradually over the years, as Silas changes before his robbery and then after finding Eppie.
She also minutely examines step by step the process of short-term changes–the reasoning that leads Godfrey to keep his secret marriage hidden or that makes Dunstan rob Silas. 5. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAST Raveloe is a society strongly connected to its past. In contrast, the town Silas comes from seems impersonal and transient–when Silas returns thirty-two years later, Lantern-Yard has been literally wiped off the face of the Earth. Individuals in this book also are connected to their own pasts in different degrees.
Godfrey hopes to bury his past. Silas and Eppie cherish their past together. As Silas is redeemed by his love for Eppie, he regains a sense of his past, and memory heals him. Attachment to the past can be stultifying, however, for characters like Squire Cass and Nancy Lammeter. Look at the role played in this novel by local traditions, personal memories, and familiar objects or places. By her own comments, then, Eliot gives this story, set in the past, a meaning for her own modern world.
6. OTHER THEMES In Silas Marner, Eliot also examines the class system of England in microcosm (mark the differences between the upper and lower classes, and judge Eliot’s comments on them). Connected to this is her belief in the importance of work. The villagers understand the value of having a craft or skill and the role this gives one in a community. Silas clings to his craft when all else is taken from him. In the upper class, the Lammeter girls understand hard work, but the Cass sons are dangerously idle.
In examining the social structure of Raveloe, however, Eliot defines a society that no longer exists. In describing Raveloe particularly by comparing it to the town Silas comes from–she depicts an England that may have been destroyed by the spread of the Industrial Revolution. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: STYLE At her best, George Eliot writes in a strong, precise style, each word chosen carefully. At her worst, her sentences circle around what she’s trying to say, stringing out clauses loaded with abstract, colorless words. In the second paragraph of the book, for example, she starts off with a plain sentence that sets up Silas’ situation in simple, concrete words.
But by the end of the paragraph she’s tangled up in long, meandering sentences, using abstract terms like “a shadowy conception of power that by much persuasion can be induced to refrain from inflicting harm.” This puts some readers off before they’ve even gotten into the book. When George Eliot is not speaking to the reader directly, however, her style is less self-conscious. Often she takes on the voice of a village gossip to show the community’s view of Silas; her language becomes casual, humorous, and colloquial.
(See for example the fifth sentence in that second paragraph, beginning “They had, perhaps, heard their mothers and fathers hint….”) When she takes on the voice of an upperclass observer, she uses a light, arch irony. (See the first paragraph of Chapter 3.
) Her scenes of straight dialogue can also be surprisingly dramatic, as characters use distinctive dialects, and speeches move energetically back and forth. Woven into the structure of the novel is a complex and subtle web of symbols. Eliot doesn’t point them out–you have to be on the lookout for them. She uses imagery drawn from nature to show that human life follows the same laws as the rest of the organic world. She compares Silas to insects, and she shows his love for Eppie growing like a plant. Habits of thought are described as flowing streams.
Symbols are not always used as metaphors, however. For example, Eliot frequently mentions the gentry’s horses. These are real animals in the story, but they symbolize the gentry’s world whenever they appear. Similarly, Silas’ gold coins become associated with Eppie’s golden hair, symbolizing that both are precious to Silas. Another important strand of imagery is the opposition of light and dark. But as you trace it through the book, be careful–the meanings of George Eliot’s symbols shift and change. Her moral vision is too complex to be set out like an allegory, where symbols represent abstract concepts in clear-cut patterns.
Instead, her symbols are like little hidden signs, enriching the message you draw from the plot. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: POINT OF VIEW Technically, Silas Marner has an omniscient third-person narrator–a narrator who isn’t a character but can enter the thoughts and sensations of all the characters. This lets George Eliot delve into her characters’ psychological processes, to show the mind of Godfrey, as well as Silas, and then to contrast them. Dunstan’s and Nancy’s minds are probed, too. With the rest of her characters, however, who provide a social context for the story, the narrator steps back and adopts the role of a social observer. She analyzes the patterns of village life and comments on them–often with the perspective of someone from the outer world. Maybe that’s why it isn’t quite true to say that George Eliot is not a character in her novels.
She isn’t a figure acting in the plot, but her presence certainly is felt as she speaks to the reader. (At the end of the second paragraph, notice that she uses the first person.) Her commentaries bridge the gap between Raveloe and your world. Sometimes she needs to explain attitudes and ideas that would seem strange to “modern” readers. (There’s a lot of this in the first chapter.) Sometimes she shows you parallels between the events of the story and your own life.
(Look, for example, at Chapter 2, where she compares Silas’ hoarding to the way sophisticated men bury themselves in their work.) These comments keep you from getting too caught up in the story. But this is intentional–Eliot wants you always to think about the moral significance of what is happening. Some readers resent this preaching and feel that the story itself teaches the lesson well enough without her comments. Yet other people enjoy her interpreting remarks, feeling that they open up depths of wisdom in this seemingly simple novel. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: FORM AND STRUCTURE Silas Marner is divided into Part One and Part Two, separated by sixteen years in time. The flashback in Chapter I travels an equal sixteen years in time, creating a fundamental symmetry. Some readers have felt that the gap between the two parts is too long-they would like to watch Silas being transformed by his love for Eppie, not just be told about it.
Yet in Chapter 14 Eliot does show the first stages of the process in detail, and in Chapter 16 she backtracks to fill in even more. This novel is divided into two parts in another, more important way. While Silas follows a cycle from misery back to happiness, Godfrey Cass follows an opposite path, from a life rich with possibilities to an unfulfilled existence. Eliot shifts back and forth between these two plots continually. Silas and Godfrey rarely meet face to face, yet they are linked–through Dunstan, who cheats Godfrey and robs Silas, and later through Eppie, whom Godfrey abandons and Silas adopts. Some readers feel the novel is split in two, that Silas’ half is like a simple folktale with its happy ending, while Godfrey’s half is a complex psychological study with a sad, realistic conclusion. Other readers say that the two halves are separated by different moral climates. In Silas’ story, fate is ruled by mysterious pagan gods.
Human beings can only surrender themselves and trust these inscrutable divinities. Godfrey’s story is like a stern Greek tragedy, where a man’s own actions lead inexorably to a tragic climax. Pain and suffering are necessary for him to purge himself of his sin. To counteract this split, Eliot’s elaborate system of parallels, contrasts, and symmetries holds the two stories together. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: CHAPTER 1 With the very first sentence of this book, you are swept back in time. “In the days when” sounds like “Once upon a time,” the traditional fairy-tale opening. Next you’re drawn to a distant place, buried deep in the hills. And finally you’re introduced to creatures of another race, shrunken, distorted, and pale, like gnomes.
Eliot writes in the rhythms of blank verse and a hushed, solemn tone. The next few sentences focus entirely upon the weavers, viewed from a distance as weird, alien creatures. NOTE: Eliot was inspired to write this novel by a memory of a weaver she had seen in her childhood. The dominant features she remembered were the bag on his back, his stooped shoulders, and an “expression of face that led her to think he was an alien from his fellows,” according to her publisher John Blackwood. Look at this figure silhouetted against the sky–solitary, sad, and weighed down. It’s a strong visual image, which would make a striking opening shot of a movie. Because the weavers come from another part of the country, villagers see them as a threat and shun them. Eliot asks you to understand the mentality of people who have no contact with the world outside their home village.
In Eliot’s time, this was already hard for readers to grasp. Just think how much harder it is for us, living in our mobile society of supersonic jets, long-distance telephones, satellite television, and space shuttles! Try, however, to put yourself into the villagers’ frame of mind for a minute, and imagine how you would regard the lone figure of the weaver. Now, after the broad sweeping opening, Eliot moves from the general to the particular–to one weaver named Silas Marner.
She shows you the precise location of his cottage and makes you hear the rasping sound of his loom. Some readers have pointed out that Silas is unlike the villagers because he works with a machine. Others point out that the farmers work with machines, too–Eliot mentions the winnowing-machine and flail–but those sounds are familiar to Raveloers, while the loom’s sound is not. The loom does seem to have taken over Silas’ spirit.
As the lively village boys peer in the window, you see Silas bent like a slave at his work, unaware of the world around him. Notice how Eliot shifts in and out of different minds. One moment she is with the boys, looking in the window. The next moment, she sympathizes with harmless Silas, irritated at the interruption. Then she shares the boys’ terror as they run from Silas’ goggle-eyed stare. She moves from there into the minds of their parents, with their primitive superstitions. NOTE: AUTHOR’S COMMENTS Eliot pauses to discuss this superstitious quality of the peasant mind.
In her sociological analysis, however, her language becomes abstract and incomprehensible. What she’s really saying is that the peasants’ life is hard, so they naturally think God is harsh, too. It’s interesting that Eliot refers to her own experience with an old laborer to illustrate this concept. It’s as if she’s proving her credentials as a social analyst.
Now Eliot fills in the details of her setting. She locates Raveloe on the map, in the English Midlands. She sets a date for the story, by referring to coach-roads (by Eliot’s own day, railroads had replaced coaches) and the Napoleonic Wars. She describes the buildings of the village and sketches its social hierarchy, headed by a few farmers with large land holdings. Picture the village to yourself.
Do you think it’s a glorified vision or a realistic one? What evidence can you point to? Silas came to this place from the north fifteen years ago, you learn, but he’s never joined in the village life. Eliot shows you the villagers’ view of him. She tells Jem Rodney’s story about finding Silas in a paralyzed trance on the road one day, and you overhear the locals’ eager discussion about this event. The gossipers also refer to another incident, when Silas magically used herbs to cure someone named Sally Oates. After this, Eliot explains in her own voice why Marner is tolerated in Raveloe–they fear him and, pragmatically, they need his skill. Then she plunges deeper, into Silas’ past. She speaks of his “metamorphosis”–a scientific word for an insect’s change in shape. (Watch for more insect imagery.
) Indeed, you learn, he was a different creature in the past. He was deeply involved in a small religious sect, made up mostly of skilled workers like himself. Unlike the villagers, these people thought Silas’ trances were a sign of God’s favor. Silas also had a dear best friend, William Dane. Dane, however, with his narrow eyes and egotism, forms a definite contrast to Silas, with his deer-like eyes and his gentle, trusting nature. NOTE: Eliot seems unsympathetic to the Lantern-Yard sect.
The very name suggests that its faith casts only a dim light (a lantern) of knowledge in a closed-in space (a yard). She says that it gives its members a sense of security, but she describes their joyless beliefs with heavy irony. Notice how long and roundabout her sentences get, mocking the brethren’s interpretation of Silas’ fits. She also shows how they persuaded Silas to give up his herbal studies, which he enjoyed. Her description of Dane’s views is sarcastic, while she pities Silas for his earnest doubts. Eliot continually hints at William’s falseness as she tells Silas’ story. Dane seems to undermine Silas’ engagement to Sarah and his place in the sect (Dane interprets Silas’ fits as a mark of the devil).
So when you see Silas sharing with William the job of nursing an ill deacon of the church, you may suspect trouble. Silas stays late at the old man’s bedside, but William never shows up. Silas falls asleep–or probably has a fit–and when he comes to, the deacon is dead. Silas innocently goes off to work as usual. But that night he is summoned to a mysterious church meeting (it’s William Dane who comes to fetch him). There, Silas is shown his own pocket-knife, which was found in the dead deacon’s dresser drawer–where a bag of church money should have been. Silas, knowing he’s innocent, stays calm.
But when the brethren search his house, William finds the money (he probably hid it there). While William is accusing him, Silas remembers with a sickening jolt that William had borrowed his knife the day before, but loyally he says nothing. The congregation tries the case by praying and drawing lots.
NOTE: LOTS This, Eliot says, was typical practice for some sects. They bypassed the legal process, believing that only God should judge and punish offenders. In this ritual, everyone in the group drew a slip of paper.
Whoever drew a particular marked slip was judged guilty. William Dane probably fixed it so Silas would draw the damning piece of paper. Silas feels sure he’ll be cleared, although he’s already disturbed by William’s treachery. Then comes the shocking decision–the lots show that Silas is guilty. What could he have done to prove his innocence? What would you have done in his place? He is asked to leave the sect, to return the money, and to confess his guilt. He protests, explaining that William had the knife.
But in the heat of emotion, he speaks against God, causing the brethren to side with William. Silas leaves with his faith in God as shattered as his faith in his fellow man. Silas’ reaction is extreme, for his world has been turned upside down. He seems helpless and passive. He doesn’t try to regain Sarah’s confidence, he doesn’t question the church’s decision–he just buries himself in his familiar, repetitive work.
As you might expect, Sarah soon marries William Dane. Silas leaves town so quietly that the brethren don’t know about it until he’s gone. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: CHAPTER 2 Imagine setting foot on another planet, with a moonlit rocky landscape and a green sky.
Imagine trying to talk to the natives–purple blobs of flesh that emit high-pitched whines. You might feel the way Silas Marner does when he arrives in Raveloe. Its landscape is unfamiliar–woods instead of rolling hills–and its people are slow-moving and prosperous, totally unlike the urban artisans he’s lived among. Eliot stresses that this shock would have fallen especially hard on a simple mind like Silas’.
His thoughts fly back longingly to Lantern-Yard, picturing the chapel and hearing the familiar service again. Though he has broken with its doctrines, he’s still tied in his heart to the physical place, from years of association. This is natural, Eliot tells you–and she compares him to a child, responding instinctively to a parent’s sheltering care. Already Eliot is foreshadowing the attachment to Eppie which will be his salvation. Eliot looks back in time, comparing Silas’ faith to some ancient religion, ruled by local gods who co-existed easily with their neighbors’ gods. In Eliot’s own time, people debated endlessly over which religious group truly represented the universal God.
Eliot, however, thought there should be room on Earth for many different religions. NOTE: LIGHT/DARK IMAGERY At the end of this second paragraph, light stands for knowledge and darkness stands for uncertainty. Right now Silas is frightened by life’s mysteries–”the blackness of night.” This image recurs at the end of the next paragraph, too, in his “dark” future.
Yet in the paragraph after that, when he receives his first gold coins, their “brightness” seems simply to mean they’re desirable. Eliot the psychologist reveals how young Silas Marner turns into that bent old man you saw earlier. First, he takes refuge in his work. Eliot compares him to a lower life form, a spider (insect imagery), especially apt because like a spider Silas weaves a web. Eliot says it’s normal for any person to bury himself in work when life isn’t going well. If you’ve ever known any workaholics, you may understand this defense. Silas’ life is reduced to a series of physical actions–throwing the shuttle, watching the cloth grow, preparing meals. He doesn’t allow himself to reflect upon his past, present, or future. Notice the image used to describe his worn channel of thought–”its old narrow pathway.” One day, a Mrs. Osgood pays Silas in gold for the linen he weaves for her. Although Silas has no purpose for the coins, he likes them for physical reasons–they feel and look good. His old Puritan work ethic becomes transformed into a desire for the money itself. The new feeling grows like a plant, rooted in old feelings (here is another major strand of imagery). Now you learn the full story of Silas’ curing Sally Oates. Though he’s trying to shut off memory, when he sees the sick cobbler’s wife he remembers how the same disease killed his mother. The memory of his mother reminds him of his herbal medicines, and he treats Sally. In a place like Raveloe, however, there are few private deeds. Soon everyone wants some of Silas’ “stuff.” Being honest, Silas doesn’t claim any special powers, but when he refuses to treat other people, the villagers turn against him more than ever. Eliot notes ironically that this deed, which might have forged human ties for him, only drove him farther away. As Silas’ coins begin to pile up, he becomes obsessed with accumulating more. He hides them in a hole in the floor, which Eliot shows you precisely. She explains that there’s little robbery in Raveloe, however–everyone would recognize the stolen objects if the thief used them. Some readers believe here that Silas feels his loom and his coins are alive. But others are quick to point out that in the next paragraph, Eliot says he becomes harder, narrower, and bent, until he has a “mechanical relation to the objects of his life.” Do you think Silas is a machine? Consider this as you read on. One day, however, Silas drops an old brown pot that he’s used for years. The familiar object felt like a real living thing to him. He grieves when it breaks, and he carries the pieces home to keep on a shelf. Notice Eliot’s simple language here–what kind of an effect does it create? Before the chapter ends, Eliot gives you another detailed picture of Silas, weaving all day, caressing his coins at night. Once again, he ignores the herbs in the fields for his new “religion” of gold. Notice repeated imagery–the coins are like “unborn children” (another foreshadowing of Eppie) and his life has dwindled to one narrow channel of thought. (Literally, he never walks off the path on his daily journeys. Metaphorically, his life has become like a dried-up rivulet, trickling through the sand.) But now that Silas’ metamorphosis is complete, Eliot tells you, an event is coming to change his life. ^^^^^^^^^^ SILAS MARNER: CHAPTER 3 Eliot leaves you in suspense about Silas’ great change while she shifts to the other end of the social spectrum. Squire Cass is the greatest man in Raveloe, she tells you, although her tone is ironic. She first discusses the local gentry as villagers might–pointing out Cass’ big brick house, casually mentioning the Osgoods. But then she discusses these landowners with an outsider’s perspective. She makes you aware that political conditions later brought this class to ruin, through their wasteful living habits and poor farming. Yet when she describes the generous feasts that people like Cass and Osgood hold, she paints a glowing picture of old-fashioned plenty. (You’ll see one of these feasts later, in Chapter 11.) The poor enjoy this bounty, too. Do you think Eliot approves or disapproves of this social system? What evidence supports your opinion? There’s a reason why Squire Cass throws big raucous parties and spends his time at the local pub–his wife died long ago. Eliot expresses here her ideal of woman’s role–as a source of order, refinement, and loving feelings. Lacking a mother, the Cass sons have turned out badly. Compare this all-male family to Silas Marner’s, which seems to consist only of himself, a mother, and a sister. Eliot lets you hear the village gossip about Dunstan and Godfrey. While Dunstan sounds thoroughly bad, Godfrey seems good-hearted. But people have been worried about Godfrey’s behavior lately. Everyone’s hoping he’ll straighten himself out by marrying Nancy Lammeter, obviously the daughter of another important Raveloe family. Now you meet the Cass brothers in person, so you can make up your own mind about them. As Godfrey stands by the fire, the parlor around him defines his gloomy mood. It’s dimly lit and messy, full of pleasure’s leftovers–discarded hunting clothes, half-empty mugs of beer, ashy pipes, and a dying fire. When Dunsey, who’s been drinking, strolls into the room, his jeering tone lives up to the villagers’ opinion of him. Agitated, Godfrey demands that Dunstan return the money he borrowed from Godfrey, which was a tenant’s rent payment. Dunstan knows how to manipulate Godfrey, though. He threatens to tell the Squire about Godfrey’s marriage to drunken Molly Farren, and Godfrey reacts with fear. Now you know why lately Godfrey’s been acting strangely. NOTE: PARALLELS Like Silas, Godfrey is taken advantage of by a thieving brother. (Dane was like a brother to Silas.) Both hope to marry a nice young woman but are prevented by shameful situations–Silas’ conviction and Godfrey’s marriage. What obvious contrasts, however, can you point to? This is the first scene Eliot dramatizes directly. She doesn’t comment much, except to show characters’ gestures and expressions. In slangy, lively speech, the brothers refer casually to people they know, whom you haven’t met. You’ve caught them in the midst of life, with upcoming events (the hunt, Mrs. Osgood’s party) and ongoing quarrels. Afraid of their father, they blackmail each other. Godfrey declares he may confess his marria