The story of Silas Marner is a beautiful, eloquently told story which gives the reader a vivid depiction of the period in which it takes place in a rustic village in England in the 1800s. The story evokes many emotions from the reader as well as teaches some moral lessons about life which are timeless. The author’s overall theme is a powerful demonstration of the importance of friendship and love to one’s life and the devastating, dehumanizing effect the lack of friendship and love causes.

Silas Marner, The Weaver of Raveloe, by George Eliot, is a fictional novel of what becomes of this once respected and esteemed young man, a weaver by trade, after he is framed for a theft by his best friend who them marries his fiancée. It is a poignant story which vividly demonstrates the impact the lack of love and friendship has on one’s life, and what becomes of Silas as a result of the injustices done to him.

Silas Marner, by George Eliot, is a fictional account of a friendless, reclusive weaver whose only purpose in life is to weave and hoard gold. O once his hold is stolen, he feels totally lost without it. Then mysteriously, this beautiful golden haired baby girl comes into his life in its (the gold guineas) place which marks the “rebirth”, the journey of Silas Marner back to humanity. This single event redeems his life through his love for the baby and his willingness to care for and take her as his own.
The story evokes a lot of emotion from the reader in response to the total injustice of what happened to Silas. First, complete anger as well as sympathy, for the betrayal by his best friend by framing him for a theft and framing him to get his fiancée. As is this was not bad enough, he is deemed guilty by his town, so feels forced to leave. This event nearly destroyed Silas. He moves to a nearby village called Raveloe, where he is not accepted because he is an outsider, therefore is not to be trusted.

“And even a settler, if he came from distant parts hardly ever ceased to be viewed with a remnant of distrust,” (p.2) One night after his gold had been stolen, Silas mistakes the golden- haired baby girl that crawled into his cottage for his stolen gold but soon realizes it is a baby girl. He decides to take care of her as his own child. Things begin to change in Silas’ life, and this is the turning point of his life.
The plot of the story is that Silas Marner, a weaver of linen by trade, is betrayed by his supposed best friend William Dane. He framed Silas for a theft which caused him to basically be driven out of his hometown, losing all that he loved. He was betrayed by his best friend, his friends, his church and his fiancée. He had lost everything including his hometown. He moves to a nearby town called Raveloe where he is looked upon as a strange man with peculiar “fits” and unusual powers to heal and is basically feared as someone
who is of the occult. He becomes a lonely, reclusive miser who lives to work on his loom…his entire life becomes an endless pursuit to just weave and hoard his gold guineas, it was all he had. He spent his days just weaving his linen like he was machine.
“Strangely, Marner’s face and figure shrank and bent themselves into a constant mechanical relation to the objects of his life,” (p.18)
“So this pattern would continue and for all the linen he would sell, he would keep hoarding the gold and spend almost nothing.” (p.18) the gold became the only special thing in his life. Until one night when his gold mysteriously disappeared. What could have happened but a robbery? And who was the thief? Dunstan Cass, the son of Squire Cass, the most important, respected and wealthy man in Raveloe. But Silas has no idea who it was and neither does anyone else. On New Year’s Eve, he finds himself at home that night away from the festivities at the Red House. He goes into one of his “fits” and awakens to catch this gold out of the corner of his eye.
He turned towards the hearth and notices an “uncertain glimmer”, thinking it is his gold; he reaches for the gold, only to find the gold he sees is the golden curly hair of a baby girl. After finding the mother dead outside, he decides to claim the child as his own. But, Godfrey Cass, another son of Squire Cass, Dunstan’s brother, is the father of the baby. This is a turning point in Silas Marner’s Life. He turns from the crazed, workaholic existence to become a caring, attentive and loving father to this baby girl, whom he names Hepzipah after his mother and sister. The addition of Eppie into his life changes Silas completely, and he becomes accepted and looked upon favorably by the townspeople for his kindness of taking in the orphan baby girl.

The other characters in the book, most especially Squire Cass, Dunstan Cass and Godfey Cass, are used by the author to demonstrate the injustices of society. The Cass family is the most prominent, wealthy and respected in town. Yet, Dunstan Cass is a thief and blackmailer. He is the thief who stole Silas’ gold but is killed the same night when he falls in the Stone Pits and drowns with the gold.
Godfrey Cass is a liar and a coward, who has married this lowly woman Molly, has a child with her, but has kept it secret form his father and everyone else but his brother Dunstan (which is how Dunstan was blackmailing him, to keep his secret). He then abandons Molly, and after she died still told no one of his relationship to the mother and child. Years later, after marrying Nancy Lammeter, and they are unable to have children and Nancy wants them so badly, Godfrey finally decides to claim Eppie.

The author demonstrated with her depiction of these characters, how society judges people by what they do and how much money they have and not by character. This is another underlying theme in this story, that your station in life and how much money one has, should not be the basis of how people are judged or viewed.

In the end, Silas is rewarded for taking in Eppie when his stolen gold is found and returned to hi m. Also, he is rewarded with Eppie’s decisio to reject Godfrey Cass, who finally comes forward to claim Eppie as his daughter. He wants her to come live with him and Nancy in the rich and prestigious part of town and she rejects him. Silas is her father, the man who has cared and loved her all her life.

In conclusion, the main theme of the book demonstrated that without love, friendship, relationships in life, you just exist. It shows the extreme power of love has in life. Silas was so obsessed with his work; his only relationship was with his loom. The analogy made by the author depicts Silas as becoming like a machine. Machines do not have emotions and Silas for all the prior injustices that befell him. It succeeds in its demonstration of the importance of love in life. It also succeeds in showing the reader the wrongs of judging people based on stupid reasons, such as “don’t judge a book by its cover.” It also shows the reader the importance of getting to know someone, not making assumptions based on what they do their appearance or what they have. The failure would be the author was overly verbose in the telling of the story. A large portion of the book was really kind of boring and unnecessary to the story.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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