Mary Anne Evans, who is better known by her pen name of George Eliot, is an amazing novelist. She was born in England in 1819 during the industrial revolution. Mary was very intelligent and due to her father’s role in society (he was Robert Evans the Warwickshire estate agent for the Earl of Lonsdale) she was allowed to go to the libraries and study to gain knowledge.
When she came to write her first novel (Scenes of Clerical Life) she decided to use a male name to ensure her work would be taken seriously, even though women writers could publish freely, George Eliot did not want to be known as a writer of romances which women authors usually were in those times.
Mary Anne had many early influences on her writing, one of the main ones being religion. She was brought up within an Anglican family, but as she grew up and met new and more interesting people, Mary was introduced to more liberal ideas which made her doubt the bible stories and she refused to go to church.
Her father was extremely angry and threatened to throw her out, but in the end Mary said she would go to church but would not believe and would think of other things. George Eliot was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era; she bases her work on the lives of the poor in the countryside. The time in history that George Eliot bases her work on is just before the Industrial Revolution.
In the late 18th to early 19th century the lives of thousands began to change as factories were being opened in large numbers. The Industrial Revolution was a period of great change.
New industries developed rapidly as a result of a number of new inventions and the way in which things were produced, and the way people lived and worked changed rapidly as a result of these developments. As the number of factories grew people from the countryside began to move into the towns looking for better paid work. The wages for farm work was very low and there were less jobs working on farms because of the invention and use of new machines. Also thousands of new workers were needed to work machines in mills and foundries.
This brought devastation to farmers who lived in the countryside as they started to lose their jobs and those who didn’t want to move to central areas in Britain lost their jobs completely. The protagonist, Silas Marner is a weaver and spends all of his days working to make some gold. When we first meet him he is living in a small countryside village called Raveloe. Silas is a recluse and does not mix with the fellow villagers. His neighbours are suspicious of him but they regard him with a certain curiosity.
Silas has a vast knowledge of medicinal herbs and has occasional cataleptic fits; many of his neighbours suspect him of having other worldly powers. The Silas we meet at the beginning is not that much different to the Silas at the end of the book but by the end Silas has been accepted by the villagers of Raveloe and because of Eppie he was able to socialize with his neighbours and I believe that Eppie made him able to trust others again. Silas Marner changed through the novel due to the incidents in Lantern Yard.
After Silas leaves Lantern Yard because he was falsely accused of theft by his best friend, William Dane, he loses his faith in God and also his trust for others and so he goes into a state of self imposed loneliness. Silas falls into a numbing routine of solitary work. He begins a life of solitude “he invited no comer to step across his door sill. ” His religion was replaced by sombre isolation. Silas weaved all day and collected the money that he earned. He spent as little as possible and every night he would take out his gold and count it, hold it and this soon became his routine.
The gold becomes his best friend as he knows it can’t betray him like people could. ‘His guineas rising in the iron pot, and his life narrowing and hardening itself more and more into a mere pulsation of desire. ‘ His love for his gold was not all together good. Although he didn’t get betrayed, the obsession with his gold made his love harden and slowly fade: ‘his gold, as he hung over it and saw it grow, gathered his power of loving together into hard isolation like its own. ‘ The next significant event in Silas’s life that makes others change their opinion of him is the finding of Eppie.
Eppie replaces his stolen gold as his best friend. He starts to mix with the others in the village. They give him help and advice about raising Eppie, but he made sure that Eppie was just his. ‘ “But she’ll be my little un. ” said Marner, rather hastily. “She’ll be nobody else’s. ” ‘ This is just how he used to feel about his gold. In the opening chapter of ‘Silas Marner’ George Eliot uses descriptive language to let the reader know about the character Silas “a pallid young man. ” In chapter one, we find out about Silas’s past and we discover why he is like he is.
Lantern Yard is the place that Silas first lived before Raveloe. Lantern Yard is a community of faith and was held together by religious belief. Silas was brought up here in this tight religious sect. He was trusting, loving childlike and innocent. Before the night he was accused Silas had for some months been engaged to a young woman named Sarah. At this point the deacon became very ill and the night he died Silas had a cataleptic fit and he was accused of stealing money from the deacon, when he had not. Sarah broke the engagement and soon was with William Dane.
Marner went home and for a whole day sat alone, stunned by despair, without any impulse to go to Sarah and attempt to win her belief in his innocence. ‘ Silas was removed from Lantern Yard and moved to Raveloe. Silas missed the tight community of Lantern Yard he had known all is life but Raveloe was very different to Lantern Yard and Silas did not find his faith again. He stopped going to Church as he must have felt betrayed by God and his faith. This is the time when Silas then becomes obsessed with working and the gold.
He was no longer trusting and loving because he was scared that if he was he would be betrayed again. ‘There is no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies, that bears witness against the innocent. ‘ This reflects George Eliot’s feelings towards religion and God, as she did not believe in either. Her strong feelings against God reflect in Silas’s character in Raveloe. The connection between faith and community is shown by the villagers of Raveloe who must contribute to the church and other communal duties.
So when villagers see how Silas rejects faith and does not show any interest in coming to church then they find it rather odd, especially in those times when religion paid a strong part in people’s livelihood. When he finds Eppie his opinion on religious faith changes from how he felt in Lantern Yard, he doesn’t mention God in the same way as he did do in Lantern Yard, but he bases his faith on the strength of his and Eppie’s love for each other, ‘since … I’ve come to love her …
I’ve had light enough to trusten by; and now she says she’ll never leave me, I think I shall trusten till I die. ‘ Silas moves on from Lantern Yard to Raveloe and lives his life in solitude. Raveloe is a small village in the English countryside and Silas moves into a small cottage and uses it to work in. I believe that he seems to hide away and accept the situation. He has no plan to take revenge because he was heart-broken when he was run out of the place he had lived for so long and had probably loved.
This feeling made him seem to others like he was resentful and bitter; but they misunderstood as he did not express his feelings. People may be suspicious of him in the village because of the fits and his knowledge of medicine, but that is because they did not know who he was, as he didn’t talk to them and they did not know his past. He worked all day to try to get rid of the feeling of betrayal which his best friend had left him with, or maybe he was doing all the work to forget what happened and hide away from society.
I think that he uses his job as a way of escaping a life of nothingness, for if he did not have his job then Silas wouldn’t have anything at all. That is why, when Eppie was found, he had something else to look after, and his life meant more than it had before when he was just working towards his gold. Silas is really wary of what was happening to him, when he moved to Raveloe. He takes his work much more seriously and makes sure no one takes advantage of him again.
The people in Raveloe take this silence and anti-social behaviour as a sign of the devil including the cataleptic fits and herbal knowledge. He works all day as just a method to stay alive. In Lantern Yard Silas had very different life style in comparison to Raveloe the urban lifestyle of the bustling town in Lantern Yard to the small country farms and cottages in Raveloe Silas may not believe he belongs in Raveloe he is so used to the old ways in Lantern Yard and this could be another reason why he decides to stay out of the community life and stay in solitude.
His work in a way has replaced his religion and his social life. When Silas’s gold is stolen I believe he feels that his whole life then has no purpose, the one thing that was keeping him alive, almost, was his gold. He felt that it must be found and again he didn’t want to seek revenge on the man who had stolen the gold but he just wanted it back. We know as a reader who stole the gold and we feel sorry for Silas as he is frantic and worried about where his gold has gone.
He runs to the villagers, this stuns the villagers of Raveloe as they have never seen him interact with them before. They begin to realise that he is not as bad as they have been making him out to be. This moment in the book when Silas’s Raveloe live is changed, his routine is blown out the window as he has not got his gold and this leads to the finding of Eppie. Eppie was found on Silas’s hearth after the death of her mother, during this time Silas was having one of his cataleptic fits. When he came out of his fit, he noticed the young girl on the hearth.
This coincidence of finding the girl was so great it changed Silas’s life forever. Eppie made him feel love again and the gold became nothing compared to the love that Eppie gave him. As Eppie grows we discover what Silas is really like how he was like this all along, the flashbacks mean that we can learn more about Silas’s past and how changed he is from both Lantern Yard and the first fifteen years in Raveloe. Eppie needed Silas as much as he needed her, which is what was different about how Silas felt towards Eppie and the gold.
With the gold Silas didn’t gain anything, as he worshipped an inanimate object but with Eppie he gained love and trust, and soon this began to rub off on him as well, ‘unlike the gold which needed nothing, and must be worshipped in close-locked solitude… Eppie was a creature of endless claims and ever-growing desires … and stirring the human kindness in all eyes that looked on her. ‘ Eliot uses the relationship between Silas and Eppie to create emotion and most readers are moved by the relationship and how it changes Silas to be more warm and loving to others, he again lets people in and trusts others again. the tender peculiar love with which Silas has regarded as an exceptional person, whose claims on neighbourly help were not to be marked in Raveloe. ‘ Dolly makes Silas realise how he must bring up Eppie and he gradually regains his faith. He starts to appreciate life again, he his forced to change his lifestyle because if he had stayed the same he would not know how to look after her if he did not have the help from others in the village. Eppie would not have had any friends as Silas would not let her mix with others as that would mean being let down again.
Eppie is a reflection on Silas’ character; his love comes through Eppie ‘Eppie was reared without punishment he had been treated very much as if he had been a useful gnome or brownie – a queer and unaccountable creature … looked at with wondering curiosity and repulsion … now Silas met with open smiling faces and cheerful questioning, as a person whose satisfactions and difficulties could be understood. ‘ The wedding of Eppie shows how others have changed their opinions of Silas and they realise that he is not a bad or bitter man but quite the opposite.
Eppie makes Silas become established as a worthy member of the community. Silas begins to find love for others as well as Eppie, his love for her makes him realise that people can be trustworthy and he begins again to love all society. He describes to Eppie how he was and how he didn’t mix with others, this made him remember memories, and how silly he was then. ‘As the child’s mind was growing into knowledge, his mind was growing into memory; as her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied in a cold narrow person, was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness. He found love again and visited Lantern Yard but when he found it destroyed and totally changed, he realised that the questions he wanted answered would never be answered but he realises how content he is with his new founded faith and love. Silas becomes much more mature as he finds his restored faith in God, his love begins to grow and he seems much less nai?? ve. He feels happy and contented with the new life he had fallen into, by complete chance.
Silas does not change personality but after building a wall from being hurt, he needed something to slowly break down the barrier to allow others from Raveloe to see his true characteristics and because of this barrier he becomes wiser and more confident, with whom he is and he forgets things that took place in the past. Eliot shows us how Silas is a three dimensional character as complicated and complex as a normal human being. The character Silas develops during the novel into a more welcoming person, until the end when he finally shows all trust and friendship.