Presentation of fatherhood in Silas Marner

Topics: FatherMother

There are many similarities between Silas Marner and George Eliot’s own life. Both she and Marner discovered happiness again when they were middle aged; Marner was given Eppie and found love and trust once more through her. Just like Eliot found love with Lewes. Silas Marner was written in the Victorian era – a time where class was a very big factor in life – “lower” classes were not supposed to stand up to the “upper” classes. However at the end of the book Marner stands up to Godfrey Cass and speaks his mind.

Eliot in relation to fatherhood believed in “the remedial influence of pure, natural human relations”, Godfrey Cass is the absolute contrast to this idea unlike Marner who loves Eppie with all his heart even though she is not his own child. Also like Marner Eliot was not accepted into the community as she lived with a married man but once she moved out of his home and got married she was accepted again, Marner made his way back into the community by Eppie.

Moreover Charles Darwin’s discoveries of the evolution of man affected the way Eliot wrote the book as Darwin was one of the first people who questioned God; this is reflected in the book when Marner turned his back on God. George Eliot uses Silas Marner and Godfrey Cass as symbols to air current views at that time. By using Marner and Godfrey Cass she can openly express her views of fatherhood as a reflection of duty, by writing this book it is one of the only ways she can express herself, as she was a women.

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla

Proficient in: Father

5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Being a woman in the late 1800s and early 1900s meant that you were thought of as being lesser and only needed for producing and raising an heir. Eliot uses two different spectrums of fatherhood; there is Silas Marner who is the adoptive father of Eppie however he loves her more than anything in his life “my precious child. ” He brings her up as a “model child”. In contrast there is Godfrey Cass, who is the paternal father of Eppie, but he passes at the chance to look after her and to be a proper father when Molly Farren dies.

He does this because he is afraid that Nancy Lammeter would not marry him also he feels that a child would be a burden to his lifestyle. He is an example of a father who only wants the child when it suits himself: thus making the reader question whether he is fit enough to be a father and even the morality of his character. Eliot firsts presents Silas Marner as being a person that likes routine, “his daily routine present hardly any change” he wants everything to be the same.

He does this because of the wrong doing that was done against him before he came to “Raveloe” he was tricked and betrayed, therefore if he now he keeps everything the same no one can come in and trick him again. Eliot also wanted our first impressions of Silas Marner being a sort of recluse, he didn’t mix with the community “he sought no man or women” moreover did not have a “normal” job. It that time in the rural villages most people were farmers- so a weaver was something out of the ordinary. Marner doesn’t like to open his door to anyone “he invited no comer to step across his door-sill”.

This is because his most trusted and cherished friend, William Dane, who was “faultless”, betrayed him, before this Marner would have done anything for him. We learn a little bit later of his love of the money that he has earned over the years. The money has taken over his life, “work sixteen hours a day” I do not think it is greed but is something stable that he thought could not be taken away from him he also views it as his only friend, “he drew them out to enjoy their companionship”. At this point it seems to the reader that Silas Marner would prefer the company of his money then friends.

However we do have to remember how he was deceived and how everything he knew was taken from him. George Eliot makes us sympathise with Silas Marner as not only did he get his fiance finished their engagement and married best friend but also he was rejected out of the church by “drawing lots”. He did not do anything to deserve any of this. George Eliot decides to tell the reader about this before she tells us about Marner and his money. This is because we can see how Marner was prior to him having his life destroyed and before he became he curled into himself.

Therefore the reader can understand why Marner is like he is in the rest of the book until Eppie is sent to him. Godfrey Cass is like Marner in as much as he is also a loner in some cases, he has his brother, Dunstan Cass, blackmailing him “You’ll get the hundred pounds for me” Godfrey Cass is not strong enough to stand up to Dunsey. Moreover Godfrey Cass has married a woman from another village, Molly Farren, who is a “drunken wife. ” The fact that Godfrey Cass is married it means that he cannot mix with or marry Nancy Lammeter.

Being married to Molly Farren has excluded Godfrey Cass from the community in more ways than one; whenever he talks to people he always has a worry in the back of his mind that someone knows or is going to find out about his wife. Also because he actually never wanted to marry Molly Farren he does not have a loving relationship with her “he would sooner die than acknowledge her as his wife. ” His brother tricked Godfrey Cass into marrying her and Dunstan is now using this against Godfrey Cass as Dunstan could tell their father “I might get you turned out of house and home. Godfrey is well respected in the community “a fine… good-natured young man” but they are worried that he will turn out like Dunsey a gambler. Eliot makes us sympathise with Godfrey Cass as well as Silas Marner, he did bring his misfortunes upon his self as Dunstan Cass may have tricked him into marrying Molly Farren but it was Godfrey was the one who said “I do” and signed the papers.

He does get what he deserved from marrying Molly Farren and not owning up to the fact that Eppie is his daughter. When Godfrey Cass and his brother are talking in front of the fire Eliot’s tone is quite sarcastic when Dunstan is talking. Well, master Godfrey” he has no respect for his older brother and knows that he can manipulate Godfrey into doing what he wants. Fireplaces make a room warm and cosy, but Godfrey Cass has his back to the fire like he does not want its warmth and does not want to really be in there with Dunstan. The Cass family is damaged they are missing a women around the house “the squire’s wife had died” Godfrey is missing love and care which he probably got from his mother, and it does not seem like his father has taken over the role of looking after his children properly.

Silas Marner lets Eppie make her own decisions at the end of the book when Godfrey Cass comes to claim Eppie as his own Marner lets her decided where she whether to stay or go. “Speak to the child”. He knows he might loose her but still gives her a choice. Godfrey Cass although not actually looking after Eppie he still cared about her and I think is why he wanted her back at the end. When he first gave her up he was only thinking of himself however, when he lets Eppie stay with Marner he does it out of love and wanting her to be happy.

Parents should also be able to talk with their child and understand their problems to try and help the child with them. Marner seems to care more about Eppie more then Cass “snatch her up and cover her with half-sobbing kisses. ” Even though Eppie has just run away Marner does not shout at her but is only happy to see her. We do not know however, that this is the case as Godfrey Cass has never actually had the chance of bringing Eppie up and showing her his love, so one does not know whether he would act like this or not. Squire Cass does not hold many of the qualities that it takes to bring up a child.

He just sees them as heirs to carry on his name and not as actual people, “ill turn the pack of you out of the house together, and marry again”. He doesn’t realise that everyone makes mistakes and that a parent should forgive them. When Godfrey Cass and Squire Cass are talking in the breakfast room we do feel sorry for Godfrey as the Squire does not talk kindly to him “you’ve been up to some trick,” the Squire has no understanding of Godfrey as he just wants to know where his money has gone “you let Dunsey have the money?. Eliot also makes the reader sympathize with Godfrey at this point as he seems so scared of his father “sir – I’m very sorry – I” he speaks very slowly as he doesn’t quite know how to say it, or it could be that he is not sure how his father will react and doesn’t know whether he should tell him. The Cass house hold never seems very warm and family like “the Red House was without … wholesome love” this is because Squire’s wife had died but the Squire should have taken up the responsibility of keeping the home loving, he seems to have shut away his children like he doesn’t know them properly.

Dunstan (Godfrey Cass’ brother) steals Marner’s money near the beginning of the novel. Then another relative of Godfrey appears; Eppie, his daughter. Eppie is accepted by Marner which is ironic as this family are the ones bringing strife to his life. It is no surprise that Godfrey takes little responsibility for his child until the end of the book as we know as readers that his father offered him little love. Godfrey does not claim Eppie to be his he does still seem to love her “a conflict of regret and joy” Godfrey, in some ways does want to care about her, yet his own happiness is more important to him than his child.

There is a complete contrast between Marner’s attitudes towards the child and Godfrey’s. Marner loves and accepts Eppie as his own while Godfrey does not even acknowledge her. Once again highlighting Eliot’s presentation of good fatherhood by Silas Marner, On the other hand in Marner’s early experiences with bringing Eppie up the reader can tell how much he loves and cares for her. “She’ll be my little un” he wants Eppie to think of him as her father and not anyone else, I think he has missed being loved and trusted.

Moreover unlike Godfrey Cass Marner is overjoyed when Eppie is sent to him and jumps at the chance to look after her. Marner does try to do the best for Eppie “punishment was good for Eppie. ” This was when Eppie takes the scissors and cuts her own ribbon that is tying her to Silas Marner’s loom. Once Marner finds her gone he is frantic with worry “looking with dying hope. ” Once Silas found her he was not angry with her but quite the opposite “overcome with convulsive joy”. He did put her into the coal hole once his worry had passed.

This didn’t work as Eppie thought it was a game and went into it again on her own accord “Eppie in the toal-hole”. I think that George Eliot chooses to keep Nancy and Godfrey Cass childless as it gives Godfrey his just deserts from abandoning Eppie when she was a baby and when he mother died, and Eliot kept Nancy childless as it mirrored her own life, Eliot did not have any children of her own but supported her “partner” Lewes when they were ill, Nancy does not look after anyone else’s child but does support Godfrey Cass when he goes to claim Eppie.

When Eppie chooses Marner over Godfrey Cass I think Eliot is being a moralist as she has left Eppie to stay with Marner because he has stood up to his “betters” and has already had his life ruined once before and without Eppie he would be nothing. Marner lets Eppie choose whether to go with Godfrey or not I don’t think this is so much Eliot standing up for women here but Eliot wanting to show how strong Silas Marner’s love for Eppie is that if she wanted to go with Godfrey Cass then he would have let her.

Today’s world has changed immensely from when George Eliot wrote her book but she does still have a relevance to today’s parenting. We now have far more adoptive parents who love their children so much sometimes more than the maternity parents. She also raises some valuable points about how to parent; its not how much money you have or what class your in but how much you care and love your child. The roles of the modern mother and father have changed there is not as much discipline or respect around for your parents in most cases.

Even though Eppie did not see Godfrey Cass as her father he did come clean about it and try and make it up to her, but once she said she wanted to stay with Marner he was heartbroken but still let her go, which is the same thing that Marner did before letting her make her own decision; both Marner and Godfrey Cass recognised what is best for Eppie. So in conclusion I think we can learn a lot from parenting from not only George Eliot but her characters Godfrey Cass and Silas Marner.

Cite this page

Presentation of fatherhood in Silas Marner. (2017, Oct 28). Retrieved from

Presentation of fatherhood in Silas Marner
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7