Eliot ensures that in 'Silas Marner' all the characters get exactly what they Deserve

Topics: Character

The word deserve means to be entitled to or worthy of. The characters in ‘Silas Marner’ have things happen to them some beneficial and some detrimental. These are usually a result of what has happened in the past. Many of the characters act foolishly and get what they deserve in return for their foolishness, but others suffer in return for other characters mistakes. Different characters act in different ways when exploring their actions what they deserve will be easily seen. Fair is fair but how fair has George Eliot been to these characters?

Silas Marner is one of the only characters that one could say suffers greatly for another character’s mistakes.

Silas, a man who believes faithfully in G-D, lives in a religious community called Lantern Yard in an industrial town, before he moves to Raveloe. Lantern Yard is a close community; everyone including Silas would go to church together every Sunday. Undeservingly Silas is betrayed by what he thinks is a good friend in the community.

He is affected deeply by the betrayal and moves to Raveloe where he begins to live his life in isolation.

He loses all trust in man and becomes only involved in material things like his pot which ‘had been his companion for twelve years’. When the ‘earthenware pot’ breaks Silas reaction shows that ‘the sap of affection was not all gone’. Silas’s heart at this stage is not completely devoid of human feeling. He becomes however, increasingly dependant on his gold and each night ‘he closed his shutters, and made fast his doors, and drew forth his gold.

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‘ As Silas grows older with just inanimate companions his heart grows harder. His gold, as he hung over it and saw it grow, gathered his power of loving together into a hard isolation like its own. ‘ The gold represents the hardness of his heart and shows that he is yearning for a human companion. William Dane stole Silas’s fiance and accused him of being the person that stole money from the church. William Dane the man who betrays Silas was the character who really deserved to live his life in isolation not Silas. One can see from where Silas has chosen to live that he has lost all trust in man and is secluding himself from the new community he has moved to.

Silas had been a trusting man before the betrayal ‘The prominent eyes that used to look trusting’. He hardly communicates or socializes with anyone from Raveloe until the day that Dunstan Cass steals his only companion, his gold. Silas makes a big step in turning to his community for help. Silas does not help himself in making friends in the community, ‘fifteen years since Silas Marner had first come to Raveloe’, ‘he invited no comer to step across his door-sill, and he never strolled into the village to drink a pint at the rainbow. This shows that it is not only the villagers that exclude Silas but also shows that Silas secludes himself. The villagers who never really speak to Silas are eager to hear about the robbery, they are intrigued as this is the first time Silas had ever come to them. Silas did nothing to deserve such a tragic thing to happen to him but it was for the good, it brought him out of his hibernation and enabled him to deserve to have Eppie. Godfrey named by his neighbours as a ‘fine open-faced good natured young man’ is the opposite of what people think of him. Godfrey has much to hide and is in fact not at all open faced.

Godfrey is unable to be happy and completely ‘open-faced’ as he has a secret that he has yet to share. His wife Molly Farren is an opium addict and an alcoholic which, Godfrey most likely did not know until the two were married. Dunstan ‘urged him into a secret marriage, which was a blight on his life. ‘ The word ‘urged’ suggests that Godfrey did not wish to marry Molly but was pushed into it. He manages to take some responsibility for the marriage and does not just blame it all on his brother’s wrong doings. ‘the delusion was partly due to a trap laid for him by Dunstan’.

This shows Godfrey’s ability to know what is right and what is wrong. This also reveals to the reader that he is able to take some responsibility for his actions. Godfrey’s father, Squire Cass used to be married to Godfrey and Dunstan’s mother until she passed away many years ago. It shows from the description of the goings on in the Cass house that they are without a female touch in the house. ‘coats and hats flung on the chairs’ ‘half-choked fire’, they seem to be disorganized and uncaring about the mess they create. The description of the house shows the moral dissolution in Cass house.

Godfrey is told by his father that he is ‘a shilly-shally fellow’, he understands his son’s true problem even though his father spends the majority of his time in The Rainbow. Godfrey is described by Eliot as having ‘natural irresolution and moral cowardice’ which are the main reasons for his unhappiness. Godfrey knows what is right and what is wrong but he is like Dunstan in the way that he does not act on what he knows. Even though he knows that he should tell his father about his secret marriage to Molly Farren instead of paying Dunstan not to tell anyone he does not.

He cannot make his mind up and do what he knows is right instead of what he thinks is right. Godfrey is lucky in that both his Brother Dunstan and Molly Farren die before anyone finding out his painful secret. He is able to marry Nancy Lammeter, a rich villager. He thinks if he were to marry her she would put order in his disorganized life. The name Eliot has used for Nancy’s last name ‘Lammeter’ is a word that suggests measure and order Meter. Godfrey thinks that now no one will ever find out about his secret marriage he can become a nicer less bitter person.

Godfrey and Nancy have a child who dies at a young age, which makes Godfrey again into a bitter person. Godfrey has a child with Molly Farren, a daughter Eppie. Godfrey never until his brother’s body is recovered tells anyone about Eppie being his daughter. When Dunstan’s body is found Godfrey decides to tell the truth about Molly and Eppie. He expects Nancy to act in to the opposite way that she does, she shows some sort of sympathy for Godfrey but wonders why he did not tell her sooner then sixteen years later.

Nancy and Godfrey cannot have children so they decide to take back what Godfrey thinks is rightfully his, they decide they want to adopt Eppie. Godfrey does not consider the fact that Eppie has grown attached to Silas. She is now eighteen and has grown up with Silas being her “true father” she explains to Godfrey and Nancy that she wants to stay with Silas and does not want to live with them. Godfrey did not have the right to ask to adopt Eppie; now that he could not have children he decides he wants Eppie when all those years went passed where he wants nothing to do with her or her mother.

He was the blood relation to Eppie and in some ways should have been able to adopt her considering she is his child, but she is no longer a child. Godfrey did nothing to deserve Eppie, to ignore one’s own child for so long and then suddenly want them is morally unmerited. Godfrey waited too long to release his secrets. He deserved to keep Nancy, he did admit what he had done wrong which was hard for him to do but because it took him so long to do right, he did not manage or deserve to get all that he wanted.

Eppie is just a child when she is introduced into the novel, by her mother Molly Farren who is an alcoholic and opium addict. Eppie’s true father is Godfrey who has nothing to do with her until she is eighteen years old. Eppie is just a child and does not deserve to have parents that do not love her and care for her. She is alone in this world until thankfully she finds Silas. Nancy is quite naive at times but she is seen to be a morally correct character. Due to Godfrey’s wrongful deeds she is unable to have children with him as he has done nothing to deserve them, and has done everything to not deserve them.

Nancy does get the love of Godfrey at the end of the novel which is what they both deserve, to be happy as Godfrey finally lets out the truth and Nancy in the end becomes more open minded. Dunstan also known as Dunsey, is described by his neighbours as ‘a spiteful jeering fellow, who seemed to enjoy his drink more when other people went dry’. He does not care about what people think of him as long as he gets his way. His elder brother Godfrey is in agreement with his neighbours as he believes that Dunstan would sell himself, ‘if it was only for the pleasure of making somebody feel he’d got a bad bargain. He is extremely jealous of Godfrey and as the reader can see does everything he can to get Godfrey in situations he cannot get out of. Dunstan often does selfish things in a malicious way. Dunstan, few years ago tempted his brother to marry a low class working woman. Elliot does not say exactly how Dunstan managed to do this, but the description of the situation shows that Godfrey thinks ‘the delusion was partly due to a trap laid for him by Dunstan’. He plans to inherit his father’s wealth and house by pushing Godfrey to the edge until he tells his father about his secret marriage.

One dark night Dunstan is returning home after leaving Wildfire, Godfrey’s horse, to die after being hurt by Dunstan’s lack of care. While passing Silas Marner’s cottage he sees a ‘gleaming of light’ which came from the cottage. Dunstan’s first thought when seeing the cottage was the rumours about Silas Marner’s gold. Dunstan considers carrying out one of his ideas he calls ‘cheating a man by making him believe that he would be paid’. It did not take much for Dunstan to carry out his idea, he proceeds with knocking ‘loudly, rather enjoying the idea that the old fellow would be frightened at the sudden noise’.

There was no answer at the door so Dunstan felt it appropriate to ‘push his fingers through the latch hole’. He convinces himself that Silas has fallen down into the stone pit and is dead, so it is only fair that he takes the precious gold. Dunstan leaves the cottage after taking the money and finds it difficult to see, later in the novel the reader learns Dunstan never managed to make it home. Sixteen years passes with hardly any mention of Dunstan’s whereabouts, when suddenly his body is discovered and he is said to have fallen into the stone pit with Silas’s money and Godfrey’s gold riding whip.

Ironically he had fallen in the Stone pit where he had originally thought Silas was. One could say George Eliot gave Dunstan what he deserved and one could say that she did not and that Dunstan did not deserve to die. He did wrong to Silas, his brother Godfrey and his Family’s name. He took pleasure in others pain and never stopped to think about how his actions effect someone else. Dunstan never considered doing a kind act while he was alive. He only considered doing wrong he deserved the punishment he received.

Dunstan was given what he deserved but in an ironic way, he had convinced himself that Silas Marner had fallen and died in the stone pit but he was wrong and it ended up him falling in the stone pit and dying. In this way Dunstan is seen to be getting what he deserved. Godfrey I think does get what he deserves, he did wrong by not claiming Eppie and telling her she was his daughter, and he lied to his friends and family. Godfrey’s good intentions are rewarded along with the bad things he has done. He gets what he deserves like Eppie not wanting to be adopted by him.

Silas, the man who does no wrong gets the most out of all the characters in the book. He was betrayed in the beginning and Eppie to make up for it. He ends up in the end keeping Eppie with him, getting his gold back and becoming a much more sociable person. He deserved good to happen to him especially after Dunstan stealing his gold. Silas deserved every good thing he got. With this in mind I have recognised that George Eliot’s has been fair and makes sure the characters get exactly what they deserve.

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Eliot ensures that in 'Silas Marner' all the characters get exactly what they Deserve. (2017, Oct 28). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-eliot-ensures-that-in-silas-marner-all-the-characters-get-exactly-what-they-deserve/

Eliot ensures that in 'Silas Marner' all the characters get exactly what they Deserve
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