Silas Marner Themes: Alienation and Redemption

Topics: Novels

This sample essay on Silas Marner Themes provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Silas Marner is the story of a skilful but unfortunate weaver, who has much misfortune in his life, as he is mis-treated by a close friend called William Dane, during his time as a member of the Lantern Yard sect. After which he was forced to move to the town of Raveloe, which is a small but picturesque village, where he lives a quiet and madesonate lifestyle as a weaver for a long period of fifteen years.

In this novel Eliot uses different ways of characterisation for the different characters she uses during the story.

Silas Marner, who is the leading figure pf the novel, is a lonely middle-aged bachelor with a small build and protruding, myopic eyes. By trade he is a weaver but more importantly, he is an ordinary man not leading an ordinary life.

Throughout the novel we are shown that Silas is a loving and trusting person. These remain constant in Silas, even through the development of his character, the betrayal by his closest friend William Dane and the disgrace of him being found guilty of theft and his exclusion from the Lantern Yard sect have made him unable to have human company for a long period of time.

When Is Silas Marner Set

At every stage in the development of his character, Eliot has something else to prop Silas up on, that he is very dependant on, something that is outside of himself.

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His religion at Lantern Yard, his work and gold for the first fifteen years of his life in Raveloe and then after his gold is stolen he finds Eppie and it is then her which he is very dependant on. Silas is very gentle by nature, and he even tells Jem Rodney to return his gold and he will take no action. When Eppie is young he is very lenient with her and cannot even bring himself to hit her when she is naughty.

But for all this gentleness he is still not lacking in strength of confidence to defend himself, we see this when he sees injustice, as shown with his little outburst at Lantern Yard and angry reproaches to Godfrey Cass. He also possesses an immense capacity for love. He takes in the child and he never questions will he keep her and love her, he just does this without a thought given to it. Silas is loving enough towards Eppie, that when Godfrey attempts to reclaim Eppie in later life Silas says she can go if she chooses.

Even the miserliness that he shows, by him hoarding the gold, is an attempt to fill the void that is left by his lack of love. Even though he remains poor and uneducated throughout the novel. Silas’s nature is far finer than any other character in the novel including the gentry. Even though he removes himself from religion when he reaches the village of Raveloe, his knowledge and belief is still far superior to that of the Raveloe villagers, as he knows in his heart that in spite of all the doubts along the way, his faith is not based on the unquestioned doctrines.

There are many instances of alienation in this novel and most of them happen to Silas. He is at first an influential member of Lantern Yard and not initially alienated but after the betrayal by his closest friend William Dane and Silas is found guilty of theft, the sect’s leaders and it’s members turn their back’s on him and he becomes alienated from them and their religion and work. Silas does not gain redemption from this sect until the end of the book. Upon arriving in Raveloe Silas self imposes alienation as he feels that he is unable to trust anyone after his closest friend had betrayed him.

The people around Silas that belong to the village are very superstitious and uneducated. When he treats Sally Oakes with his knowledge of medical lore they believe that he is a healer but they also think that if he is a healer, he can also hurt people too. He is unwilling to get involved in village life for this reason and also his physical characteristics and his digital dexterity with the loom, play a big part in the fact that they do not trust him, his large protruding eyes and the fact that he has catalepsy go along way towards the people thinking he is not able to be trusted.

It is self imposed for a number of reasons, he no longer feels that he can trust anybody after the events at Lantern Yard and he also no longer believes in what he is told because he thinks that it is all lies. Evidence that he alienated himself from the village: “He was generally spoken of as a poor mushed Creature” and that avoidance of his neighbours, which Had before been referred to his ill-will, and to a Probable addiction to worse company, was now Considered mere craziness There is still one thing that he will trust and believe in and that is his gold.

He believes this because it is not a living things and does not have feelings so it will not be able to betray him. The milieu has a large part to play in this alienation due to the setting that Silas has found himself in. There are great differences between the two settings that Silas has lived in, he was never really alienated from Lantern Yard until right at the very end of his membership, but in Raveloe he is because of the superstitious characteristics that the village people posses.

The way in which Silas marner is alienated can also be linked with novels structure is cyclical and it is also almost liturgical to the Christian calendar year, as time is the crucial factor in the novel as the more time that passes the more changes it brings. The alienation can also be linked with the narrative voice of George Eliot; she is motivated by the theme of this novel and guides the views of the readers towards her views.

There is an autobiographical element in this writing as Eliot herself once suffered alienation from her father because he did not speak to her for a number of years and also out caste her because of her unorthodox belief in the Christian religion and her relationships with married men. There are also many examples of redemption in this novel, which Eliot also received when her father began to talk to her again. Redemption is where one starts to regain a sense of one’s worth. Silas’s life had become like a spider’s web, because he was in the middle and everything span outwards from him and his loom.

One day after the New Year had began Silas had been out for a walk, he came back to his cottage and he fell into one of his cataleptic fit whilst standing at his door. He awoke with blurry eyes and saw gold locks on the floor, at first he thought it was his gold but then he touched it and it was the feel of the hair of a baby girl, this was a sign of a new beginning and a miraculous event in his life and this began to make up for all the misfortune that he had experienced and begins to express to the reader that miracles do happen and the wheel will turn a full circle in the end and everybody’s luck changes.

There is almost something biblical about the moment where he finds the baby girl on the floor in his cottage. Silas begins to find new belief when he finds her on his floor and instantly finds love in his heart for her. There is also a sub plot to this story that also included alienation and redemption was the fact that Godfrey became alienated from both of his wives at different times in the story. Firstly it was self imposed to become alienated from his wife and child because he thinks that it will ruin his chances with Nancy Lammeter and also that she has a drug addiction that he is paying for.

Secondly he again imposes the alienation upon himself but this time it was not from his second wife Nancy but from her affection’s towards him. He begins to think that their marriage is pointless as she is unable to have children and is unwilling to adopt because she is a very superstitious woman and thinks if she cannot have them, then she was not made to have them. There is redemption for him too though on both occasions. On the same night that Silas gains redemption, Godfrey also gains redemption from his alienation from his first wife.

His wife was found frozen to death after she had gone out to show up at Squire Cass’s New Years party but had not made it all the way, she was found outside Silas’s cottage and her daughter had wandered off into Silas’s cottage and he claimed her for his own. There is redemption on the second occasion for Godfrey but it is then taken harshly away from him, when he offers Eppie a chance to come and live in his house, with all the luxuries that she would never experience while with Silas and she refuses.

Godfrey would have been happy to take her away from the man she has called “dad” for all those years, without even giving it a second thought. He begins to realise that this is very selfish and it is his own fault, unlike when Silas’s gold was stolen. Throughout the novel the readers response is guided by the narrative voice, this is because of the explicit moralizing during the persona that is adopted by Eliot and this guides the didactic element to the novel. The persona throughout this novel is on of a sensitive and a wise commentator upon the human life.

The narrator is both sympathetic and humane towards the characters. The didactic elements are very simple to see and should be picked up by even the simplest of readers, they are ‘homely’ and are observations based upon natural imagery. The narrative’ structure is divided up into two parts. The development of Silas Marners character is put into part one and this has a main and a sub plot. The main is Silas Marner and his life and the sub plot being Godfrey and Dunsten. The second part involves a main and a sub plot also.

The main plot being Silas and Eppie, with the sub plot again involving Godfrey and his wife Nancy. The different parts that structure the novel are forever changing in the novel and this guides the reader to a much better understanding of Silas’s character and the divine power of providence, which involves the wheel of life that will always turn a full circle to change peoples luck. The understanding of this is vital to the plot and understanding of the story. All this contributes and conveys the impression to the reader the views held by George Eliot that human life is very much conveyed by didactic intentions.

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Silas Marner Themes: Alienation and Redemption. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

Silas Marner Themes: Alienation and Redemption
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