Silas Marner Essay

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At the beginning of the novel Silas says, ‘there o no just God that governs earth righteously, but a God of lies that bears witness against the innocent.’ At the conclusion of the novel he says, ‘there’s good;this world – Ive a feeling o’ that now.’ What makes him change his mind? What are the events that lead to his regeneration?

Silas Marner, the skilled hand loom linen-weaver, of ‘exemplary life and ardent faith.’ His simple religious faith was lived out through his hardworking and self-denying life. Both were admired by the narrow-minded sect to which he belonged and generously contributed most of his earnings.

‘I am sore stricken; I can say nothing. God will clear me.’

‘The lots declared that Silas Marner was guilty’

Silas naive faith is so strong and sincere that his betrayal, by his friend William Dane and by God failing to clear him, results in his total loss in faith in people and God. Silas who suffers from fits got taken advantage of from Dane to be framed for the theft. Silas was expelled from his church and his fiance Sarah, had ended their engagement and married William. From then on Silas personality dramatically changes.

Silas Marner and William Dane believed in exactly the same religion in the community of Lantern Yard. However, Dane’s interpretation of his ‘Assurance of Salvation’, led him to abdicate any moral qualities or responsibility from his life. William Dane is one of the people in the novel that we see who believes in pre-destination.

‘Calling and election sure’

He felt that he had been chosen to be saved no matter what he did in his life, so he believed he could get away with doing anything he wanted, like stealing the money and blaming Silas. This shows that religion isn’t a positive influence.

‘…Like the weaving and satisfaction of hunger, subsisting quite aloof from the life of belief and love from which he had been cut off.’

Silas moves from Lantern Yard to Raveloe where he adopts a life of weaving which is different to that of the farming community. This suggests to me that Silas becomes an ‘outsider’, he chooses to live alone and at distant from people. He replaces friends by his obsession for his gold, for which he compulsively weaves.

Silas puts his faith in something for which, he believes can’t hurt him. He remains in this numbed mechanical phase until circumstances again cause him to change.

Before Dunstan, Squire Cass’s son, attempts to sell ‘Wildfire’, his horse, it dies during a hunt. Dunstun walks home, stopping buy at Silas cottage where he decides to ‘borrow’ the weaver’s gold. Dunstan sets off and disappears into the stormy night. This style of language used is very clever by George Elliot, in that he uses traditional images of light and dark to symbolise evil. The night Silas is robbed the weather is awful, which creates our emotions to feel a lot more significant. This is an example of ‘Pathetic Fallacy’.

‘This strangely novel situation of opening his trouble to his Raveloe neighbours, of sitting in the warmth of a hearth not his own, and feeling the presence of faces and voices which were his nearest promise of help, had doubtless its influence on Marner, in spite of his passionate preoccupation with his loss’

The theft of his gold makes him so desperate that he turns to the villagers for their help. This is the turning point for his regeneration. Silas has only wanted his gold, now he discovers the warmth of the village community as they listen to his story. In turn, because Silas is half-crazed by his genuine distress, their attitude changes and they act with caring concerns.

‘I wont accuse anybody’

‘I try – I try to think where my money can be’

Each of the villagers thinks that Silas is a ghost until he begs for help. He seems ‘mad’ when he accuses Jem Rodney of theft. Convinced by Silas’s distress, the men believe he has been robbed by the devil. Their proof of Jem’s innocence makes Silas regret and apologise for his accusations. He remembers when he himself, was falsely accused. He is effectively a broken man since his gold represented his only interest in life.

From the actions of Silas, although he in the past has lost a lot, remains a genuinely loyal man in search for his gold. Again he is regenerated, from the lack of socialising in society, to bring a sense of community out from him. This links very closely with themes on people and outsiders. ‘No man is an island’.

‘…But instead of the hard coin with the familiar resisting outline, his fingers encountered soft warm curls’

The mysterious arrival of the child seems almost supernatural to Silas. Eventually, through the child, his life transforms a second time. In fact, his goodness, and other qualities, have gone dormant and are reawakened through Eppie. Through Eppie, Silas gains the friendship of Dolly Winthrop. In Dolly’s religious faith, a strong Christian, he finds peace over the false accusations of long ago, and regains his faith in God.

By adopting Eppie, Silas saves the community her cost to the poor rate, which in fact pleases the villagers. What Silas does for Eppie and the changes she brings to his personality, he becomes an admired and respected member of the village community.

Silas lonely, miserly life brings him no happiness. He works ‘like the spider’ without ‘love and fellowship’. Like all weavers his figure ‘shrank’ through the weaving and weight of his ‘heavy bag’. As a result of Eppie’s arrival, he is able to carry a much heavier load, Eppie and ‘his yarn or linen at the same time’ and he goes ‘strolling out’ with all the time in the world to enjoy nature and the countryside. During this time Silas goes back to revisit Lantern Yard with Eppie in an effort to set the record straight. The chapel has disappeared along with its parishioners to be replaced by a large factory. Silas has finally moved on along with time.

All in all Elliot has used dramatic irony to enable the readers to know what is coming up next before the characters. This is used to introduce the child of Godfrey of whom Nancy does not know, of course this child being Eppie. Also its worth noting how Eppie was a part of Silas life on New Years Eve which is the meaning of a new start.

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