Silas Marner Is the Brightest of the Rural Novels by George Eliot

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In Silas Marner, George Eliot uses “chance” and “accident” to great effect, with various implications. It gives us an insight into George Eliot’s philosophy on life. Man is often guided by chance, which leads to his destiny, George Eliot regards this as a positive force.

Silas Marner has three parts to his life.

The first part is briefly talked about, at the beginning of the novel, when he is at Lantern Yard. When at Lantern Yard, Silas is part of a religious group in society. He thought that religion and God would arrange the rest of his life, but he found out that he must work hard to be rewarded, and that God could not do everything for him. He felt betrayed by religion and turned his back on it.

As he worked hard he was fortunate and felt privileged with the consequences.

Raveloe is the place where the second part of his life begins. He continues weaving, although is a very lonely man as, at first no-one in the village knew of him, being suspicious towards Silas. Because of the events at Lantern Yard, resulting in him being accused of stealing then leaving the village, he thought that God had punished him by not saving him from the trauma, so turned away from religion. “Collecting” money, hoarding it and counting it was the majority of what happened in Silas Marner’s second part of his life, as he worked hard weaving.

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He was not nearly as happy as when at Lantern Yard.

Silas Was Compared To A Spider Many Times Throughout The Book.

In the third part of his life, Silas was fortunate to be the person of the young girl toddler who had strayed into his house, after her mother had died. This toddler, who was later called Eppie, made Silas become a part of Raveloe’s society. After these events he went back to being a religious man. He was not at all obsessed with money, as long as he had Eppie. He was happy, once again.

In this part of novel Silas is referred to as a spider, “he seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse without reflection”. Also, “spinning insect” and “insect-like existence. He weaved cloth and it was his livelihood. In addition, his eyes were described many times, “large brown protuberant eyes” as well as, “Marner’s eyes were set like a dead mans.”

Silas Marner’s life appears to be governed by chance, which effect all three parts of his life. For instance, the Deacon at Lantern Yard falling ill, resulting in Silas looking after him, then Silas was accused of stealing his money, “the lots declared that Silas Marner was guilty”. Also, his money is stolen, the only time he leaves the house open. His door key was infact used to roast his meat, rather than to lock the door.

Other chances are that Dunsten’s horse, Wildfire, is killed, consequently, Dunstan stealing Silas’ money. Although, an extremely good chance, for Silas. Is that Eppie’s mother dies outside of Silas’ cottage, which then has Eppie going into Silas’ house.

Mrs. Dolly Winthrop is a typical country person. She plays a vital role by gradually drawing Silas back into society and the church. Another important person, for a very different reason, is William Dane. He lived with and was friends with Silas although got him (thrown out) of Lantern Yard. This is because he was a crafty, cunning man who only pretended to be friends, using Silas.

Godfrey Cass is the Squire Cass’, the wealthiest man in Raveloe, son. For Godfrey, money does not bring him happiness. He leads a double life as he pushes a-side important issues, wanting them to be resolved by themselves. He is morally weak, which all adds up to divine punishment for him. Dunsten Cass is the younger brother, to Godfrey. He is an awfully selfish man who blackmails his brother, subsequently faces poetic justice.

Nancy Lammeter ends up marrying Godfrey. She is a perfectionist, doing things properly all of the time. She has a tragic life when her baby unfortunately dies.

Eppie, Silas’ daughter does not need to be developed, in the novel, so is a two-dimensional character. She is full of sunshine, shining like the gold and in some ways is a replacement for it. Pathetic fallacy is used greatly in this novel and it seems to be bright and light around her. In Chapter 12 Eppie is discovered by Silas, “his own gold brought back to him as mysteriously as it had been taken away.” Then in Chapter 19 Eppie makes the decision to stay with Silas, as opposed to going with her newly known father, Godfrey Cass.

Chance is one of the main themes that runs throughout Silas Marner. Silas Marner’s life is based mainly around chance, such as, when Eppie’s mother dies outside of Silas’ cottage, Eppie wonders into Silas Marner’s cottage. A terrible consequence of one chance is when Wildfire is killed, so as Silas’ cottage door is open again, Dunstan, needing money, desperately steals Silas’ gold. As well as, at Lantern Yard, they decide Silas is guilty of stealing some money by the drawing of the lots.

There is a range of moral standards held by the society in Raveloe. Silas has high standards of behaviour, from the beginning. Dunsey is disposed of, having low moral standards, leading to divine retribution. Godfrey learns to do the right thing, doing his duty, by the end of this novel. Dolly Winthrop has high standards about behaviour. William Dane was devious and a traitor towards Silas, although Silas was ‘rewarded’ in the end.

Dunsey steals Silas’ gold then consequently dies. Godfrey ‘lies’ and does not ‘own up’ so consequently does not get Eppie. Whereas, Silas works hard and does nothing wrong, the consequence of this is that he gets Eppie. Also, Dolly and Aaron Winthrop lead a pleasant life joining Silas’ happy life.

Eppie’s mother dies outside, at night, in the darkness. Then Eppie goes into Silas’ cottage filling it with light, more than the gold. Lantern Yard is dark, when Silas is accused of stealing the money, with the drawing of the lots deciding the verdict. In contrast, Raveloe is light. There is lots of light at the end of the ‘fairy tale ending’, especially when Eppie and Aaron Winthrop get married.

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Silas Marner Is the Brightest of the Rural Novels by George Eliot. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Silas Marner Is the Brightest of the Rural Novels by George Eliot
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