What Does The Novel have to say About the Relationship Between Parents and Their Children

The following sample essay on What Does The Novel have to say About the Relationship Between Parents and Their Children. In 1861 during the epoch of the Industrial Revolution, George Eliot (real name: Mary Anne Evans), wrote the renowned novel ‘Silas Marner’. The novel deeply explores the nature of relationship between parent and child, portrayed by many characters in the book.

I believe the main reason Eliot wrote ‘Silas Marner’ was because in the Victorian period, writers tried to entertain their readers whilst also embedding their beliefs and judgements into the reader’s mind, which comes across very clearly in the book.

There are many Victorian values in the novel which are evident in the text, and some very different, some quite complicated, relationships in the novel, which reveal the complexity behind each inter-related connection between parents and children. “A child, more than all other gifts, that Earth can offer to a declining man, brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts. ” This quote by Wordsworth portrays the whole meaning of the book, with several connections to different parts of the novel.

Wordsworth had the idea that at the moment of birth, human beings move from a perfect, idealised world to a corrupt and faulty world. Children are closest to this early world and can remember the serenity and purity of it, but Wordsworth said that as they grew up, they lose that connection to the natural world. He believed that children can evoke and reawaken these memories of childhood in adults and bring them closer to the early and perfect world.

Get quality help now
Marrie pro writer

Proficient in: Family

5 (204)

“ She followed all my directions. It was really easy to contact her and respond very fast as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Eliot had this quote in mind when writing a story of a child resurrecting the humanity and hope in a man submerged in isolation and spiritual desolation.

The ‘declining man’ is Silas, who was shown at the start of the book to be an ambitious and young linen weaver, who “worked at his vocation in a stone cottage”. The clever use of language devices include omniscient third person narration, in which it gives an overview of both plots with Eliot’s opinions planted in the text. This use of narration reveals Silas as a solitary outsider, who worked at his trade in the backward looking village of Raveloe “quite an hour’s journey on horseback from any turnpike. However, after his betrayal in Lantern Yard, his self alienation from the villagers of Raveloe and the death of his humanity after the theft of his gold hoard, Silas is resurrected by Eppie, the child that enters his cottage whilst he is in a fit. Eppie is his salvation and brings those forward looking thoughts and he becomes alive once again. Eliot’s own life is quite evidently expressed in ‘Silas Marner’, through characters such as Silas.

She was born in 1819 at the same time as Queen Victoria, in the period of the Industrial Revolution where powerful influential woman and female literary figures were also active. Her life was a constant whirlwind – her mother died in 1836, and Eliot went on to meet Charles Bray who was a radical and free thinker, which led to Eliot rethinking her Christian faith and losing it. In 1849 her father died, and she went to the 142 Strand in London lodging there as a journalist, where she started an affair with John Chapman. This was controversial and went against moral Victorian values, as Chapman had a wife and a mistress living with him. After being sent back to Coventry and writing more reviews for intellectuals, philosophers, and thinkers, she planned to marry Herbert Spencer but it didn’t happen.

She then fell in love with George Lewis who was married but believed in free love and open marriage, and with his encouragement and her determination to be taken seriously by distancing herself from frivolous books written by females, her career took off. However, she experienced separation from a rigid Christian society, and her family and brother who she adored rejected her which was heartbreaking for Eliot. Eliot went on to write about the rural life she remembered from childhood in Warwickshire about fond memories, the simplicity of living, and the honest approach to life, which went against the strict Christian society.

This lifestyle of going against the normal can be grasped from the life of Silas in ‘Silas Marner’. Silas was a part of the growing and rigid Christian society, but after his betrayal in Lantern Yard after being falsely accused of stealing, he moved to Raveloe and lost this faith. Although Raveloe was undoubtedly a simpler and free living village, people still went to church and Silas didn’t want to be a part of this over fear of the same thing happening again. He experienced self alienation and separation from society, where he kept himself to himself.

However, the introduction of Eppie into his life made him rethink his faith once again, and subsequently he followed the Christian way of life because of Eppie. Silas Marner vividly encapsulates the Victorian agony of rejecting faith, and the parent – child relationship between him and Eppie strengthens these values. Silas is a solitary character who lives “in a stone cottage that stood out among the nutty hedgerows near the village of Raveloe”. This suggests that he lives far from the other villagers in Raveloe, who regard him with suspicion because of his cataleptic fits, which they believe derive from the devil.

Back in Lantern Yard his fits are considered a sign of righteousness, however in Raveloe, “his trances look more like visitations of Satan. ” This shows the role of religion in Raveloe, as they follow God and appear extremely superstitious. The villagers associate his medical knowledge with the devil occult, but they tolerate him in their village because his job as a weaver is useful. We learn that Silas works for no purpose, it simply fills his time and he hoards the profits and does nothing with it.

He spends as little on himself as possible in order to let his gold hoard grow. The constant weaving and solitude “reduced his life to the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect”, which suggests that his lifestyle never changed as he was constantly spinning cloth. Silas chooses to block out his past because it’s too painful to even think about for him, the fact that he was betrayed by his best friend made him rethink his faith and lose trust in religion and people. Raveloe is a completely different place to Lantern Yard in terms of what it means to Silas.

Lantern Yard was a conservative and peaceful place, where everyone was focused on strict religious values and a simple, frugal life. Raveloe is the opposite – it has a laid back feel with degenerate and laid back inhabitants, who have plenty to spare and are materialistic rather than finding happiness in the simple things. Squire Cass is then introduced as “the greatest man in Raveloe”, who everybody respects and nobody would ever accuse of doing wrong. The squire is totally absorbed in his own life and petty criticisms.

His two sons, Godfrey and Dunstan, are prime examples of the faults in the way their father brought them up. Squire Cass has the attitude that money can solve everything, and that you don’t need to discipline your children or take responsibility for anything – as long as you have financial security your family will be perfect in everybody else’s eyes. His wife died a long time ago, and she was the one who was “the fountain of wholesome love”, whereas Squire Cass seems to lose interest in them very quickly. Squire Cass is an extremely bad role model to his sons, which is later expressed in the book.

For example, Squire never disciplined Dunstan and as a result he died trying to pay back rent money he owed to his father in a reckless way. Squire Cass failed as a father because there is no trust in the relationship between Dunstan and Godfrey and their father. They feel they cannot tell him about how Dunstan lost the rent money because of fear of what he’d do. Furthermore, Godfrey is scared to tell him of his affair with Molly, because he is afraid his father will disown him and he is accused of being “weak like his mother”.

Squire Cass takes credit for anything good that his sons do, but as soon as they make a mistake he threatens to disown them. Like both Marner and the Cass’ lives, it is filled with artificial pleasures. Silas has happiness from his gold hoard, Dunstan likes the difficulties he can cause for others, and Godfrey is content with the idyllic vision of his future with Nancy. Dunstan, who can get Godfrey to do whatever he wants through blackmail and temptation about Godfrey’s secret affair, sets off to sell Wildfire, Godfrey’s horse in order to get back the rent money.

Dunstan has a superficial reality over the power he has. He may have an influential and persuasive hold over Godfrey, but in the place of the village he has no real power. However, after sealing the deal but then falling of Wildfire and killing him, Dunstan searches for another way to get the money back. His mind is fixed on the thought of Marner’s gold, as it had been village gossip that he had a lot of money hidden somewhere. He adopts the attitude of”why borrow Marner’s money when you can just take it”, which he has learnt from his father.

He walks into the inviting cottage and “his eyes travelled eagerly over the floor, where the bricks, distinct in the fire light, were discernible under the sprinkling of sand. ” This suggests Dunstan is keen to find the money and quickly get out of there, and he doesn’t mind doing a corrupt act if it means getting to Godfrey. When he lifts the brick from the floor up and steals the money, he steps back out into the darkness, never to be seen again. Eliot’s style of writing in this fast paced chapter captures Dunstan’s inner voice, as his phrases, words and beliefs are embedded into the third person narration.

Dunstan has this attitude that nothing matters as long as he’s happy and he doesn’t seem to care if anybody else gets hurt by his actions – this is derived from his own father’s behaviour. Marner has this idea that as his life is so repetitive, nothing out of the ordinary could happen because of this daily cycle. However when he goes to count his money and finds it missing, his human form seems to die and he frantically panics. His only reassurance is his own reality, and so he reluctantly starts weaving monotonously once again.

Marner is traumatised by his loss, as it is all he believed he had to live for and now that artificial and dormant hope had gone. He treated the loss of his gold like a person would treat the loss of their child – he was deeply upset and became even more of a recluse. Silas is reduced to having to ask the villagers help catch the thief, which is a novel idea to him, however they soon sympathise with him and it creates community bonds as such. Later on, Dolly Winthrop introduces the idea of children as she “stroked Aaron’s brown head, and thought it must do Master Marner good to see a ‘pictur of a child.

But Marner, on the other side of the hearth, saw the neat featured rosy face as a mere dim, round, with two dark spots in it. ” This suggests that Dolly believes Aaron is an example of a picturesque child, but Silas simply sees an empty rosy cheeked face with dark eyes. This is how Silas sees children before Eppie came into his life. It shows that he seems to have no time for children and is not accustomed to the love, happiness and pride they can bring to the adults. Molly Farren is introduced fully, but it is clear she does not look after Eppie and is not capable too because of her opium addiction.

She decided to go back to Raveloe to tell everyone of Godfrey’s unfaithfulness and lack of care for her and his child. She blames Godfrey for everything bad in her life, although some of it is down to “the demon opium to which she was enslaved. ” This suggests Molly is tied to opium, she embezzles Godfrey’s money all her life to support her drug addiction rather than to support her child. Godfrey thinks his own daughter Eppie is a liability, and Molly uses Eppie to manipulate and get to Godfrey (playing with his mind. She purposely takes her into the snow with her to go to the Squire’s party with the soul intent to make a fool of Godfrey. She happily died and showed no struggle to survive or grasp Eppie. Eppie sees the bright lights of Marner’s house, and she walks in whilst he was in a trance. When Silas comes around, he believes Eppie is his gold coins that have been returned. Eppie becomes his salvation and that moment, his soul is regenerated and Silas is redeemed for his actions.

Eppie starts crying for ‘mammy’, and Silas follows the footsteps to discover Molly’s dead body – so he rushes to the Squire’s party for a doctor. When the Squire’s party is notified, Godfrey becomes alarmed that if Molly doesn’t die, she will reveal all about his secret double life. He thinks he might have to care for Eppie which will ruin his chances with Nancy. Godfrey hopes Molly dies so his affair doesn’t come to light, and as he thinks money can solve everything, he gives Silas some money to buy the child some clothes, seemingly out of the goodness of his own heart.

This shows the parent-child relationship between Godfrey and his father Squire – he is avoiding the responsibility of his child and using money to make everything okay like his father always has done. Godfrey values his own selfish happiness over his fatherly responsibility which is exactly what Squire Cass did – the relationship between them has moved down the generations and progressed. Eppie replaces Silas’ love of money with his love of Eppie – she is his salvation. “It’s a lone thing-and I’m a lone thing.

My money’s gone, I don’t know where-and this is come from I don’t know where. I know nothing-I’m partly mazed. ” This shows why Marner wants to keep Eppie, he has no idea how his gold was taken and now he has no idea how Eppie has appeared, but he is amazed at the chance and Eppie seems to be his last chance. He learns to love Eppie as she is happy and reminds him of his former self (just like Wordsworth’s quote. ) When people try to take Eppie away Silas begs to look after her as her mother is dead and her father is unknown – he cares for her greatly and gives her the name Eppie.

Silas learns to adapt quickly to children considering his isolation from others for 15 years. The second Eppie walks into his life and actually needs Silas, his humanity is redeemed. Although Eppie has low expectations of Silas because her mother never touched or talked to her (this shows the level of neglect), Silas has a natural protectiveness instinctively and vows to never hurt her and he puts her before himself. Gold is a symbol of rare, expensive, high quality, precious, material wealth, which represents importance and value – and Eppie symbolises all of these things.

Silas becomes popular in the village and accepted because of his loving attitude to Eppie. The villagers are more sympathetic, especially women, who doubt how we will cope. Silas is very protective of Eppie, stating “she’ll be my little un, she’ll be nobody else’s”. This is because Silas is afraid that Eppie will love someone else more than she loves him. Eliot wonderfully contrasts the gold and the child, stating that gold is deaf, dumb and blind to life, whereas Eppie is the opposite who eats at life, sucks the life out of everything, and is so alive.

She forces forward looking thoughts for Silas and becomes a healing process for him to accept his past. Gold asked him to constantly weave and be isolated, Eppie reawakens his senses with life and gets him out to meet people and brings him back to life – she resurrects him. Eliot’s use of contrast emphasizes the effect of Eppie on Silas. “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 prison, was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness. This suggests that as Eppie grows, Silas’ mind begins to except his cold past and regain full life into him. Dolly tries to make Silas punish Eppie for running away, but although at first he is adamant he never will, he agrees to because the thought of her running away petrifies him. Silas put Eppie in the coal hole but the punishment ended as soon as she cried – the form of discipline failed because he simply can’t bear to harm Eppie. There is no repulsion to Silas when with Eppie, and it shows that money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness.

Godfrey believes it’s easier to hide behind the inconvenience of her mother dying in the snow than taking responsibility. This is made easier because the Squire’s family is respected and nobody would think anything disrespectful or salacious such as the unfolded events that happened – nobody suspects these untoward things. In part two of the novel, we learn that Godfrey believes he has a god given right over Eppie and suddenly wants her back because Nancy can’t have children of her own. I believe Eliot wrote the book in two parts simply too emphasize the growing up of Eppie over sixteen years, and so as a reader we can grasp what changes and similarities come about because of this.

The tone of the story is sympathetic to each character’s story, revealing in depth emotions and the relationship between parent and child. When Eppie asks if “God would like me to be married, sir? ”, Silas although has no views over marrying within class, does doubt the value of his love to Eppie. “Things will change; whether we like it or no; things won’t go on for along while just as they are and no difference. This suggests that Silas knows that the marriage between Aaron and Eppie will change things between them, although Eppie claims he will live with the both of them. The relationship between Eppie and Silas is really tested when Godfrey turns up wanting his child back after refusing to have anything to do with her for 16 years. The villagers feel “it’s natural he should be disappointed at not having any children”, however I think that to shirk his responsibility for 16 years then demand Eppie back now that she’s grown up is wrong.

Nancy feels that “to adopt a child because children of your own had been denied you, was to try and choose your lot in spite of Providence. ” This means that Nancy believes that if God chose for her not to be able to conceive, it was wrong to try and adopt a child to replace this loss. However, when Godfrey reveals all to Nancy about his past and affair, and how Eppie really is his, she feels it’s his duty to look after Eppie and Nancy feels it will bring the two of them closer, with her ultimately getting her child. For Nancy to just forgive Godfrey and not leave him shows the trust between them, although the grief from being unable to have children is replaced by the concept that they can just take Eppie away from Silas. Silas allows Eppie to speak for herself and choose who she wants to live with – the choice between money, or human decency and relationships. This shows that Silas trusts Eppie will make the right decision with her life and what she feels is right, he places all his faith in Eppie to do the right thing.

When Eppie chooses to stay with Silas in the “idyllic and happy” cottage, far away from having to be a lady and wealth, the true colours of their relationship is shown. Eppie is Silas’ salvation, and he learns to trust her with all his heart, and she later redeems him by him having faith in her. This is an example of a tight knitted and loving bond – the relationship between Eppie and Silas is relentless to any outsider, and they both have this perfect trust and love in which they place in each other. This is very different to every other character in the book. For example, the relationship between Squire Cass and his sons is totally the opposite – he believes money solves absolutely everything, and just as Godfrey copied, they both shirk their responsibilities which leads to devastating events.

Molly Farran has no bond with her child at all – she never paid her attention or love, which Silas redeems Eppie in a sense as he gives her what she had always lacked. In conclusion, I believe that children did bring some hope and forward looking thoughts to some of the characters in the novel, and to others they got what they deserved. The effect of Eppie on Silas’ life is profound, she definitely brought forward looking thoughts, however, Dunstan and Godfrey certainly didn’t for their father because he simply had no interest in them. The sadness over the incapability of Nancy to conceive is weighed out by Godfrey’s actions, and so they didn’t deserve forward looking hopes from a child, which is exactly what they got.

Cite this page

What Does The Novel have to say About the Relationship Between Parents and Their Children. (2017, Oct 28). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-what-does-the-novel-have-to-say-about-the-relationship-between-parents-and-their-children/

What Does The Novel have to say About the Relationship Between Parents and Their Children
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7