Silas Marner by George Eliot


Manage series 1070738
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One of the most memorable scenes in this novel occurs in Chapter Twelve, when the dejected and desolate Silas Marner steps outside his lonely cottage on New Year's Eve. He suffers from one of his bizarre fits of catalepsy and stands frozen for a few seconds. When he regains consciousness, he returns to his fireside. There in front of the warm blaze he imagines he sees a heap of gold! The very gold that had been robbed from his house many years ago. He stretches out his hand to touch it. Instead of hard metal, he encounters a soft head of golden hair. It is a little child who has wandered in out of the cold winter night... Silas Marner or The Weaver of Raveloe was George Eliot's third book. It was published in 1861 and is notable for its very sensitive treatment of the burning issues of the day: industrialization, religion, individualism and the community and the idea of character as destiny. The apparently simple plot is however a framework that holds together a complex structure of symbolism and great historical accuracy. The story portrays young Silas Marner who works as a weaver in Lantern Yard, a fictitious industrialized town in the Midlands. He is falsely accused of stealing the Calvinist congregation's church funds while watching over the dying deacon. In reality the clues point to his best friend, but Marner is declared guilty and forced to leave town. He settles down in the distant rural village of Raveloe. Here he lives as a recluse, amassing considerable wealth from his expertise as a weaver. One night, the gold which he hoards in his cottage is mysteriously stolen, pushing him over the edge into deep depression. One night, an orphan child wanders by chance into his cottage and for Silas, this is the turning point in his life. Filled with memorable characters and steeped in the rural atmosphere of Victorian rural England, Silas Marner is ultimately a tale of love and hope. The reclusive, miserly weaver is transformed by the love of a child. The novel also explores the crisis of faith that George Eliot herself suffered. She was also deeply concerned about the changes that industrialization was bringing to the traditional English way of life. The moral and ethical transformations that people experienced in the space of a single generation are vividly portrayed in this novel. As a tribute to Wordsworth's ideal that the Child is the Father of Man, Silas Marner is a deeply engrossing and poignant story that both young and old will enjoy.