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Nyle Isaac Arcayan HS4-6 George Eliot’s Silas Marner It is hard to imagine the kind of pain and betrayal felt by Silas Marner in George Eliot’s most memorable classic novel, Silas Marner. The story is set in the early 1900’s, during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
It recounts the life of Silas Marner, a weaver by trade who was accused of theft by his closest friend, William Dane, and excommunicated by the Calvinist congregation he once Joined.
Betrayed and abandoned, the embittered Silas moves to Raveloe, a village on the verge of industrialization, and isolates himself, becomes a miser and recluse, his only source f security being in his hoard of money. However, even his prized gold is taken away from him by Dunstan Cass and replaced by a little girl named Eppie, the neglected child of Godfrey Cass.
Without others to turn to, Silas and Eppie find solace in one another. And for sixteen years, despite grave revelations of Eppie’s origins and threats for their separation, they persist together as a family and Silas is reminded once again of the redemptive power of love.
In Silas Marner, George Eliot is able to vividly portray the characters of Silas, Eppie, and Godfrey uniquely, and through their truggles and moments of sorrow, the themes of love, hope, and retribution are made evident.
The first half of the book reflects upon the themes of materialism and greed; this is often reflected in the lives and actions of Silas, Godfrey, and Dunstan. Ever since his arrival in Raveloe, Silas has been shutting people out of his life. Without any friends and confidants, Silas finds security in his hoard of gold.
This carnal love for money becomes a detriment to Silas’s life and impairment to his well-being; the gold unfortunately becomes his primary source of depression and loneliness. In the ituation of the Cass family, greed and pride reign over the family household. Dunstan, the brash abrasive brother, frequently chooses to do things his own way, showing sheer contempt for authority while doing so. His unethical Judgment and obstinate nature always instigate dire consequences, often at the expense of others. Dunstan’s theft of Silas’s money not only impairs Silas’s lifestyle, but also weakens the bonds in his family.
His unscrupulous act of theft even lead to his own, unforeseen death. Godfrey, on the other hand, is a man cursed with his past. He regrets ever marrying the drug-addicted Molly, becoming the father of Eppie. His desperation to move on to what he believes to be a better life causes him to make various detestable, selfish decisions in the story. The corruption and avarice evident in the Cass family perfectly expresses the destructive nature of greed and selfishness; however, they too experience loss and grief.
Such as the case is with the Cass’s, the misery they undergo often comes as a consequence or reprisal for their actions. The second half of the book takes a lighter tone as themes and events in the story renect tne Teellngs 0T love ana nope, Teellngs tnat tne cn110 Epple symoollzes. Epple’s nexpected entrance into Silas’s life becomes the first major emotional turning point in the story. When Eppie stumbles into the home of the linen weaver, he immediately feels a strong obligation to keep her as his own, stating that, “It’s (Eppie) come to me – IVe a right to keep it. They live together under the same roof, depending in each other as father and daughter. Slowly but surely, both of their lives gradually become brighter and happier as the days pass by and they grow together as a family. Silas, through the influence of Eppie, finally learns to open himself to the world he once hid from. Furthermore, Silas’s cataleptic fits, once a symbol of his afflictions and misfortunes, no longer become a detriment to his life. Finally, Silas learns to live his life with a new air, a purpose, and a reason – now, he has a family.
However, the situation of the Cass family is quite the opposite. Godfrey, though now married to Nancy, has become the last survivor of the Cass lineage, and although he previously disowned his own daughter sixteen years ago, Godfrey, childless and without heir, now seeks reconciliation with Eppie and Silas. Godfrey personally undergoes great levels of guilt and loneliness. These feelings, as he believes, have become the reprisals he deserves after abandoning his previous family for so long.
Cass family’s misfortunes as well as Silas’s new-found Joy near the end of the book become the core of the theme of retribution; the novel develops these things like a form of poetic justice, giving resolution and Justification in the end. The characters in Silas Marner are all very vivid as well as descriptive, giving the story a unique literary feel not found in other books. As usually the case in other books, the characters and their respective conflicts may become somewhat buoyant, isconnected, and mismatched.
Oftentimes these characters blindly react to the events happening around them, resulting in highly predictable or mechanical personalities. But George Eliot’s characters incredibly believable and human. All the characters in Silas Marner behave and adapt differently to the situations thrown at them, showing George Eliot’s true creative mastery. However, many readers may find the book rather hard to swallow, as the story tends to drag along in some sections of the novel. Other readers may find some difficulty in comprehending the rural dialect sed by the people of Raveloe, as was the case with my first run through with the book.
But otherwise, none of these affect the overall artistry achieved by George Eliot. George Eliot’s amazing proficiency in creating a rich story abundant with themes and morals only further emphasizes the concepts of love and family togetherness in a world drawn by materialism. Silas Marner might as well be one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. It presents an amazing story full of hope, humor, and light-heartedness – a classic tale that will surely last for many generations to come.