Essays On Silas Marner

Like most of George Eliot’s novels, Silas Marner is set in the rural England of the author’s childhood memories. Like her other novels, too, the work is meticulously realistic in many aspects of its dialogue, description, and characterization. Unlike most of her novels, however, Silas Marner is very short, with an almost geometrically formal structure, and its plot relies upon some rather improbable incidents. Such elements reflect the author’s intent to deal with profound themes in the form of a fable.

In Silas’ story, George Eliot obliquely approaches the realm of spiritual truth by depicting the restoration of faith in the heart of a very simple man. The old-fashioned rural setting is important as a frame; its cultural remoteness from the world of the reader gives it the archaic simplicity and uncontested credibility of a fable or fairy tale. Even so, George Eliot critics have never been comfortable with the implication that somehow Eppie has been given to Silas by a benevolent providence in return for his lost gold. The question of the author’s stance is especially problematic in view of her own agnosticism. Although George Eliot herself as a child was an ardent, evangelical Christian, in maturity (like many Victorian intellectuals) she rejected traditional beliefs for a humanist credo.

In Godfrey’s story, realism predominates, and thus the author’s control of theme is more secure. Godfrey’s marriage to Molly Farren is the fatal step that enmeshes him in lies and guile as he tries to evade its consequences. One must beware of condemning Godfrey, however, because the author herself does not. Rather, she sees him as a type of erring humanity—a good-hearted but weak-willed young man who desperately wants to rewrite his past and enjoy a happy future with Nancy Lammeter. The role of Dunstan as a foil to Godfrey is important: Together, they represent a classic Cain-and-Abel, bad brother-good brother contrast. This structural polarity helps to create a context of judgment in which Dunstan’s viciousness makes Godfrey’s wrongdoing seem less damning.

Structural patterns of this kind are in fact a key to the novel’s meaning. The various parallels and contrasts between the Silas and Godfrey stories show these respective halves of the novel to be formally related, like the panels of a diptych. Both Godfrey and Silas are living out the consequences of a past wrong, in which the one was the secret wrongdoer, the other the falsely accused victim. In both stories theft is a pivotal event: Dunstan’s stealing of Silas’ gold complements William Dane’s taking of the church money. Silas suffers unjustly but magnifies his misery by becoming a virtual hermit. Godfrey suffers the pangs of conscience while maintaining an outwardly cheerful, gregarious disposition. As the ironic consequence of denying his wife and child, Godfrey remains childless, since he and Nancy apparently cannot have children, whereas Silas, the lonely bachelor, receives Eppie into his life as a daughter. In general, the unfolding of each story suggests the influence of a power or force of destiny beyond human understanding—something rather like Nemesis in Godfrey’s case, and something rather like Providence in Silas’.

If the metaphysical implications of Silas Marner go beyond the realm of earthly reality, the primary moral intent of the author is firmly grounded in human relationships. As is the case in her other novels, the bonds of love, sympathy, and fellow feeling are the highest good that one can truly know. As such, they are redemptive in themselves and are the basis of George Eliot’s “religion of humanity.” Although she doubts the existence of God, she is assured of the existence of a sublime, collective goodness. Thus, in both stories, the power of human affection, especially as shown by the women of the novel, heals psychic wounds, restores humanity, and, insofar as it can, atones for wrongdoing. In Godfrey’s story, it is Nancy who serves in this role. She is a “centered” personality who counterbalances Godfrey’s lack of inner strength; her love for him unites her sensitive, affectionate nature with her deep moral principles. In Silas’ story, Dolly Winthrop and, later, Eppie, perform comparable functions. Dolly’s good sense and warm sympathy provide Silas with a lifeline to a restored faith in humanity and God. Eppie’s decision at the end to remain with Silas reflects the strength of their shared affection and affirms the bonds of feeling as the surest basis of right choice.

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  • Silas Marner George Eliot

    1,111 words

    Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe was first published by George Eliot in 1861. The novel's main actions take place at the turn of the 19 th century in the English rural community in Raveloe. A moral fable deals with the main character, who, has a series of simple probation. The story deals with ideas of good gratification and evil punished. Gorge Eliot shows us: when people have no love and no responsibility for each other, life become ruined. While a great deal of love and a willingness to ta...
    Free research essays on topics related to: silas, silas marner, villagers, eppie, george eliot
  • Hard To Read Silas Marner Eppie

    287 words

    There are two main points in the story "Silas Marner." The first is redemption. Godfrey Cass kept many secrets from people. He kept the secret of being married to a previous woman before Nancy, and he finally told her about that. He kept the secret of being Eppie's real father, until finally he told of that also. But he was forgiven. His wrongdoings were forgiven and he provided for both Nancy and Eppie and their family, including Silas Marner. The second main point is rebirth. Silas' love, for ...
    Free research essays on topics related to: stolen, eppie, forgiven, rebirth, silas marner
  • Faith In God Silas Marner

    1,862 words

    ter> With close reference to particular incidents, show how Silas Marner's character develops through his experiences. Silas Marner is introduced as a pallid young man, with prominent, short-sighted brown eyes who led a quiet life in the small country community, Lantern Yard. He is a skilled hand loom-weaver of exemplary life and ardent faith; His work, friends and faith have a huge part in his life, making him an open and honest person. Silas certainly possesses a flawed character, wh...
    Free research essays on topics related to: faith in god, fifteen years, silas, gold coins, silas marner
  • Silas Marner And Hard Times Redemption

    1,589 words

    The discussion will take place first in Silas Marner novel. It is taken to be first since it needs full concentration of the reader. Two characters are going to be in redemption and re-generation, in their concepts and beliefs in life. The main character of the novel, which the plot builds on, is Silas Marner. His penance is him living lonely and cut off from the world for 15 years, till he finds Eppie. Eppie, is like the fairy genie, which will be the cause of his re-generation. Silas redemptio...
    Free research essays on topics related to: ch 8, fifteen years, hard times, main character, silas marner
  • Silas Marner The Rural Life

    429 words

    The life that could be lived in a village at 1861, which was so near of the time of the Industrial Revolution, is a simple life. People at that time were simple minded, and care most about their work. They do not understand much of their religion, as it is exemplified in the novel. We could see that when Mrs. Winthrop talks about that she does not understand much of what she hears or read on Sunday services, still she believes since her heart in relief to what it said. When Henry Austen analyses...
    Free research essays on topics related to: silas marner, george eliot, silas, eliot, ch 8
  • Prejudice In Silas Marner

    568 words

    In the book Silas Marner, written by George Elliot, many important themes are presented. It deals with things such as greed, prejudice, superstition, love, isolation and others. All the characters have different traits and all fit in to these themes. Prejudice is the most prevalent theme, in this book. All of the people in Ravelo were extremely prejudice against outsiders. Here are three characters that were victims of prejudice. First, there's Silas Marner, an old miser. His only joy in life is...
    Free research essays on topics related to: falsely accused, silas, people thought, silas marner, molly
  • Faith In God Silas Marner

    1,888 words

    With close reference to particular incidents, show how Silas Marner? s character develops through his experiences. Silas Marner is introduced as a? pallid young man, with prominent, short-sighted brown eyes? who led a quiet life in the small country community, Lantern Yard. He is a skilled hand loom-weaver of? exemplary life and ardent faith? ; His work, friends and faith have a huge part in his life, making him an open and honest person. Silas certainly possesses a flawed character, which we se...
    Free research essays on topics related to: silas, gold coins, faith in god, fifteen years, silas marner
  • Hard To Read Silas Marner Eppie

    287 words

    There are two main points in the story Silas Marner. The first is redemption. Godfrey Cass kept many secrets from people. He kept the secret of being married to a previous woman before Nancy, and he finally told her about that. He kept the secret of being Eppie's real father, until finally he told of that also. But he was forgiven. His wrongdoings were forgiven and he provided for both Nancy and Eppie and their family, including Silas Marner. The second main point is rebirth. Silas love, for a w...
    Free research essays on topics related to: rebirth, silas, silas marner, stolen, eppie

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