Silas Marner is the story of a lost soul who finds redemption
The story of Silas Marner is focused on following the life of Silas Marner, the lonely weaver, and tracking the various events which befall him. This story was set in the 19th Century, and so as a result, the revolutionary scientific ideas which have shaped the world today had not yet set into society, especially not in the rural areas in which the story of Silas Marner’s life takes place. Therefore, religious ideals are what binds the community together, and this faith in religion is what makes Silas a part of the community in the beginning of his story at Lantern Yard.
However, when he is framed and judged guilty over murdering the senior deacon of the church for his money, he is not only cast out of the social community, but also he loses his faith in religion. Silas Marner may be called a “lost soul” due to the fact that prior to his loss of faith, the only thing he had in his life was the church and his faith, i. e. His faith in God was his soul. When he loses this, he has supposedly “lost his soul”.
George Eliot makes the point that religion lets down Silas, after he places his faith into it; when he is accused of murdering the senior deacon, he says “God will clear me”. He repeats this when the stolen money is found in his home, and again after a confrontation with Silas’ supposed friend, William Dane “I am sore stricken; I can say nothing. God will clear me”. However, when the lots are drawn at the church, they declare that Silas is guilty, and Silas’ “trust in man had been cruelly bruised”.
Silas then confronts William Dane, the man who framed him once more, and says in front of the entire church congregation “There is no just God that governs the Earth righteously, but a God of lies, that bears witness against the innocent”. This proves just how shaken and lost Silas is. There is irony in the sense that at the beginning of the story, it is money that leads to him becoming cast out of the community, but then when Silas moves from Lantern Yard to Raveloe, he becomes obsessed with money for fifteen years: his obsession with money is what separates him from the Raveloe community.
The idea that becoming miserly is a bad thing is suggested in this story, as George Eliot points out in two situations how money creates a rift between Silas and his local community. For fifteen years, he lives a solitary life, and “his life narrowing and hardening itself more and more into a mere pulsation of desire and satisfaction that had no relation to any other being. This emphasises that due to Silas’ lack of faith, he has nothing else to be close to, and as a result, he slowly becomes obsessed with the golden guineas he earns by working at his loom.
George Eliot asks the reader a rhetorical question “Have not men, shut up in solitary imprisonment, found an interest in marking the moments by straight strokes of a certain length on the wall, until the growth of the sum of straight strokes, arranged in triangles, has become a mastering purpose? The reference to solitary imprisonment refers to just how isolated Silas is from the Raveloe community; this quotation also comments on how Silas became addicted to money just as a man in prison becomes addicted to markings on walls; there was nothing else for Silas to do but to weave on his loom, and the money he collected from this practice was what satisfied his lack of purpose.
However, it is in Silas’ power to love that he finds redemption. From the story, one can deduce that Silas is a kind-hearted person, i. . At the beginning of the story, he can see nothing but goodness in his friend William Dane, despite the obvious treachery on William’s part. When Eppie, the child of Godfrey Cass (the son of the squire) and Molly Farren (who had recently died due to hypothermia) wandered into Silas’ house during one of his cataleptic fits, the first thing he sees when he looks at the child is his gold; his heart is described as beating violently, which refers to how excited he is that he has found his gold.
However, when he examines the child, he feels “utter amazement” and “inexplicable surprise” due to the fact that for fifteen years, he has not felt this way about anything except for his money. We can see how Silas is drawn to the child in his reactions; when it wakes up and starts crying, Silas “almost unconsciously uttered sounds of hushing tenderness, while he bethought himself that some of his porridge… would do to feed the child. This is further emphasised with “The porridge sweetened with some dry brown sugar from an old store which he had refrained from using for himself… ” These quotations show how straight away, Silas is inclined to care for the child, while also thinking of its immediate needs, especially by sweetening the porridge with sugar which he himself had been saving for a special occasion.
Also, we can see that Silas enjoys the company of the child “Baby was at once occupied with the primary mystery of her own toes, inviting Silas, with much chuckling, to consider the mystery too. Sixteen years later, and Eppie is eighteen years old. The relationship between Silas and Eppie is now so strong that when Silas finds out about the skeleton of Dunstan Cass and the recovery of his money, he is almost indifferent; this is very contrasted to what might be expected from Silas’ earlier reactions to when he thought he may have found his money. This is because when he was a “lost soul” he had nothing to satisfy him.
This is where the money started to allure him, because there was nothing else for him to do: now that he has Eppie to care for, his fascination with money is no longer an issue. However, when Godfrey Cass and Nancy, his wife, come to Silas’ house to tell him that Eppie is in fact Godfrey’s daughter and that he wants her back by birthright since Godfrey and Nancy cannot have children, Silas is deeply shocked, so Eppie herself defends Silas ” Thank you ma’am – thank you, sir.
But I can’t leave my father, nor own anybody nearer than him. ” This shows how close Eppie is to Silas, because she would rather stay with Silas than live with her real father and be the daughter of the Squire. We can see now that Silas has at last found redemption in the love of Eppie, a love which his golden guineas could not provide; for through his love for Eppie, Silas finally establishes links with the rest of his community, e. g. hen he goes to find clothing for Eppie as a baby, he asks Dolly Winthrop and gives her half a guinea, but instead, she says “There’s no call to buy, no more nor a pair o’ shoes; for I’ve got the little petticoats as Aaron wore five years ago… ” Already, Dolly has offered Silas the clothes that her son Aaron wore when he was a baby instead of him paying for them. This is an example of Silas forging social links with the rest of Raveloe.
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