How does George Eliot portray the changes of the character Silas Marner

Topics: Goals In Life

George Eliot describes Raveloe at the start of the nineteenth century through a changing world. At this time the changes in the industrial revolution were making many poor, working people leave the countryside to work in factories and live in crowded, squalid towns where small religious groups were beginning to form such as the one in Lantern Yard. There were many inequalities of society such as the high living standards of the landowners compared to the poor people in Raveloe. The first change of character is when Marner is made to move from Lantern Yard to Raveloe after being wrongly accused of stealing money from the Deacon.

In Lantern yard he was ‘highly though of’ and was believed to be ‘a young man of exemplary life and ardent faith’. When Marner’s friend, William Dane, betrays him and frames him for stealing money he is called to the church where he believes God would clear him. However he is found guilty and he was said to ‘have despair in his soul that shaken trust in God and man’, so now he begins to lose faith and trust in everyone.

He is further burdened when his fianci?? calls the wedding off and is soon married to Marner’s friend William Dane. At this he moves to Raveloe.

George Eliot shows the effect of this event by creating a whole new view of Marner. He looses Religion and trust, which makes him very isolated. She makes him seem like a very dark strange character by using phrases such as ‘The little light that he possessed spread its beams so narrowly, that frustrated belief was a curtain broad enough to create for him the blackness of night’.

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In other words its made out that Marner has nothing to look forward to because of his loss of faith. His loneliness in emphasised when he seems to find company in his money.

George Eliot describes them as his ‘seeds of desire’, this makes you think that money is the most important thing in Marner’s life. Also he is made isolated because nothing in Raveloe is the same as Lantern Yard which also creates pity. The reader first regards Marner as being a level headed and much respected character. However when he is betrayed he shows he is very innocent and unsuspecting which shows he is too trustful, and relies too much on the teachings of God. When he moves to Raveloe the reader feels great pity for Marner.

George Eliot creates this by making out that Marner has lost everything and by making him so isolated from the rest of the village, ‘he invited no comer to step across his door-sill, and he never strolled into the village’. Also the writer makes us commiserate with Marner because he loses all his respect. She creates this by making all the characters in Raveloe think that Marner is strange and also by using a group of lads that pester and torment him to show that this view runs through all the generations of Raveloe.

The readers view of Marner again changes when the writer describes his money as they ‘were like the satisfaction of a thirst to him’ and that his ‘life had reduced itself to the mere functions of weaving and hoarding’. It makes him seem as if he is a robot with a program. It makes him seem even stranger but again creates great empathy because he really has no life and it’s hard to believe that a once well regarded man had become this machine. The second incident is the arrival of Eppie. Eppie a little toddler had been walking with her mother who had passed out from being so cold and taking morphine.

She was drawn to the light of Marner’s fire and she entered the house as Marner stood by the open door having a fit. George Eliot uses imagery of Eppie’s hair, being golden, looking like gold. When Marner notices her he thinks she is his gold that was stolen from him. This shows how important gold is in his life. He discovered it was a child looking much like his sister. Marner goes to the New Year party at the red house to fetch the doctor after finding the child’s mother dead in the snow. Marner wants to keep the child but readers know that it is Godfrey Cass’s child.

In this incident Silas Marner shows many new feelings such as love and importance of being which develops his character. The change in Marner that George Eliot shows is that he has started talking with people and that people in Raveloe have change there view of him and no longer regard Marner as being strange. This is shown when someone talks to him with ‘respectful compassion’. George Eliot uses the child to remind the readers of the kindness that he possessed when living in Lantern Yard and also shows a total change in Marner that his life no longer revolves around money but Eppie.

This change is so drastic that it even takes Marner by surprise. I know this when he says ‘No-no-I can’t part with it’. The stuttering at the beginning makes you think that he is confused, but Eppie was said to be ‘almost a revelation’. It is like another new beginning for Silas Marner. The fact that Eppie clings to Marner makes him seem like a warm, comforting character. George Eliot creates the warmth by using words to describe Marner and his actions such as ‘soothed’, ‘perfectly quiet’ and ‘wide gazing calm’.

Godfrey shows jealousy towards Marner but it too proud to say anything because of his ‘conflict of regret and joy’. This makes Silas Marner’s character seem stronger to in the reader’s point of view. The quote ‘the small hand began to pull at Marner’s withered cheek with loving disfiguration’, show as that he is like a father and rather than being a self absorbed, piteous character he is warm and strong. The strength of his character is emphasised by Godfrey being so weak in this part of the book because of all his mixed emotions.

In this part of the book it seems as if Marner’s character is complete because for once in his life he has a reason for living that he that everyone else regards satisfactory. The reader is reminded of Silas Marner’s innocent side when he says ‘Till anybody shows they’ve a right to take her away from me’, ‘The mother’s dead, and I reckon it’s got no father. ‘ George Eliot creates shock in the readers when Marner says this by using dramatic irony. This quote again shows Marner’s strength because he now feels he can stand up to people as from before he didn’t even show signs of communication.

The reader again feels sorry for Marner when he says ‘My money’s gone, I don’t know where-and this is come from I don’t know where. ‘ It is as if he is still thing to make sense of everything and by comparing Eppie to money, which was the most important thing in his life, is saying that Eppie is now the most important thing in his life. Godfrey gives Marner some money to look after Eppie and states that Eppie is a ‘Poor little thing’. This shows characters in the book still feel pity for Marner because they see the child as being a burden but or Silas the child is just what he needed.

The reader feels hope for Marner at this point which contradicts the other characters views because only the reader knows hoe truly important the child is to Marner and how hopeless he would be if he didn’t have anything in his life still. The final incident I have chosen is in the second part of the book that is sixteen years on from part one of the book. It is when Marner’s gold is returned to him but is worthless compared to Eppie. Also Godfrey and Nancy (Godfrey’s wife) went to see Marner and broke the news that Godfrey is Eppies biological father and that he wants her to move in with him.

However Eppie will not go as she sees Marner as her father which the reader gets constant reminders of as she always refers to him as ‘daddy’ or ‘father’. George Eliot shows a change in Marner again, as now he is a totally fulfilled character with money and Eppie. However Marner explains to Eppie ‘how he used to count it every night, and his soul was utterly desolate till she was sent to him. ‘ This portrays Silas as finally being an ordinary who wants and needs nothing else than Eppie. It shows he has found himself and that he has become totally dedicated to Eppie not money or religion.

The writer creates great tension when Silas Marner tells Eppie how she has changed his whole life and that ‘If you hadn’t been sent to save me, I should ha’ gone to the grave in misery’. At this Godfrey and Nancy enter Marner’s house. This sequence of events creates great tension because you know what’s coming and you feels so sorry for Eppie and Marner who have got a nice life together which now may be turned into disaster. The tension gathers as it takes so long for Godfrey to break the news.

When Godfrey announces he wants Eppie to stay with him the mood between the characters change dramatically. George Eliot creates great frustration between Silas Marner and Godfrey Cass because of the difference in class, which again creates more tension between the characters. When Godfrey says, ‘Make her a lady; she’s more fit for it than the rough life’, it is like saying your no longer good enough to look after Eppie. When Eppie will not go there is a sense of relief. However when Godfrey tells his news the tension is held at a climax by the angry, shocked mood that George Eliot creates.

She is keeps the tension going by using lots of commas and short sentences. George Eliot also uses lots of adjectives to describe the character feelings such as, ‘Lively appreciation’ and ‘parental fierceness’. This makes the feeling more dramatic making them feel more real to the reader. She creates this mood by the actions of Eppie, ‘Eppie had given a violent start, and turned quite pale’, and also Marner’s actions, ‘he answered, with an accent of bitterness’. This makes all the characters uneasy with each other and creates the mood.

There is great pressure and guilt on Godfrey, especially when Marner states very defensively, ‘Why didn’t you say so 16 years ago, and claim her before I’d come to love her, when you might as well take the heart out of my body’. It is ironic how he is accusing Marner as not being good enough to look after Eppie, when he has taken 16 years to tell her the truth. This shows another change in Marner which is that he will stand up to people even if they are a higher class when it comes down to Eppie. The quote is also another emphasis on how important Eppie is to Marner. There are again many changes in the reader’s view of Marner.

Even in the incident there is a change of character. At first he is said to be ‘always ill at ease when he was being spoken to by betters. ‘ However His character becomes stronger and he gains belief in himself. This is shown in the quote of the previous paragraph. Also Marner shows that he very tolerate even to Godfrey who comes across as very unfeeling, selfish and self-absorbed. This is shown when Godfrey, in effect says that Eppie would be better off at the red house. Another change in Marner is that he is always thinking in other peoples best interests, especially Eppies.

This is shown when Marner says to Eppie ‘Eppie my child, speak. I won’t stand in your way. ‘ It also shows that he is very caring. The readers also regard Marner as being very respectful and respected. This is shown when he tells Eppie to ‘Thank Mr. And Mrs. Cass’, even after they nearly wrecked his life. It is shown that Marner is respected when Eppie sticks by his side, ‘I can’t leave my father. ‘ Another change is shown in the reader’s view of Marner when Godfrey puts pressure on Marner because he tells him he would be better off for money if Eppie went.

This shows that Money no longer plays an important part in his life. When Marner tells Eppie that if she stays with him that ‘You must make sure as you won’t be sorry’ shows his sensitive side because he still want the best for Eppie. In incident one when Marner is set up by his best friend I think George Eliot wants us to think about the issue of trust and friendship. I also think she wants us to think how money can effect these issues. For example William was Marner’s best friend who had profuse amounts of Marner’s trust and respect. However just to get money he broke these bonds because he though money was worth more.

It raises an interesting twist in the book when Marner moves to Raveloe he find that money is the most important thing in his life. Also in Incident one I think she wants to point out that there was no real judicial system and everything went to the church. Almost like god was the judge. It also shows how important religion was in those times and that it lad to injustices. In the world today it seems a strange phenomenon that people thought they could tell who was guilty, and that Marner had so much faith in God that he thought God would show the people that he was not guilty.

In incident two George Eliot wants to raise the moral issue of child negligence and single motherhood in those times. She shows the desperation of single mothers in those times, again showing no judicial system and no help for people who weren’t involved with the church. George Eliot also shows how the whole image, appearance and actions of richer people were so important to uphold. This is shown when Godfrey walks away from his only child and his ex-wife. It is also shown when Mrs Kimble won’t take Eppie, ‘Mrs Kimble, hesitating, how-ever to take those dingy clothes into contact with her own ornament satin bodice. ‘

Also in incident two the writer wants us to show us the difference in class and how it effected the actions of those people. For example the higher class take pity on the lower class. This is shown by several offers of money to Marner. It also shows that the rich used money to get out of taking responsibilities. In incident three George Eliot wants us to think about the moral issue of class again. It seems ironic how Godfrey feels he has the right to own Eppie after Marner has been her father for sixteen years. She shows how the higher class expects respect from the lower class and the lower class seems to oblige to this expectation.

This is shown in the brief quote ‘Thank Mr. and Mrs. Cass. ‘ The fact that Marner refers to Godfrey and Nancy as Mr and Mrs shows respect. The writer also wants us to think about the importance of money in the different classes. It seems much more important to Godfrey who uses it to try and bribe Eppie to leaving Marner; this also shows how money makes people think they have power. It used to be of most importance to Marner until he found Eppie. It makes us think about the moral that money is nothing if you don’t have anyone to share it with.

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How does George Eliot portray the changes of the character Silas Marner. (2017, Oct 28). Retrieved from

How does George Eliot portray the changes of the character Silas Marner
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