Silas Marner by George Eliot: Summary & Analysis

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Silas may be a weaver living during a manufacturing city within the north of England. He and his friends are Dissenters, Christians who don’t belong to the state-sponsored Anglican Church that was (and is) dominant in England. Things are good. He’s got an ally named William Dane, the best girl named Sarah, and therefore the only minor issue is that he occasionally spaces out—like, really spaces out, to the purpose that he doesn’t know what is going on around him.

And then he’s accused of theft. The group kicks him out, and Silas makes his way south to the Midlands, where he sets up his loom and settles down within the village of Raveloe. Business is sweet, but the villagers think he’s a weird loner. For fifteen whole years, he weaves and holds nightly sessions together with his growing hoard of cash.

Meanwhile, things aren’t going well for Raveloe’s wealthy family up at the Red House. the top of the family, old Mr. Cass, is a jerk, and he’s got a jerky younger son, Dunstan. His older son, Godfrey is secretly married to the opium-addled Molly. this is often depressing to Godfrey because these are pre-regular divorce days, and he’s got his eye on another girl, Nancy Lampeter.

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When the most active of the story opens, Dunstan convinces Godfrey to sell his horse to pay a debt and even offers to sell it for him. Big mistake, Godfrey. Before getting the cash, Dunstan takes the horse off hunting, but he makes a stupid move and therefore the horse finishes up dead. As Dustan is walking home, he spies Silas’s cottage and has the brilliant idea to steal the cash everyone suspects Silas has.

Silas, who can’t catch an opportunity and knows it, promptly sinks into depression. He’s depressed during Christmas, then New Year’s Day arrives. Up at the Red House, Mr. Cass is giving his big annual party. Godfrey recklessly flirts with Nancy. Dunstan is nowhere to be found and hasn’t been for a short time.

Down near the Stone-Pits by Silas’s cottage, Molly trudges along the snow-covered road carrying a toddler. She takes some opium (dumb), sits down under a bush (dumber), and falls asleep (really, really dumb, but also sad). the kid wakes up and toddles off, accidentally—or miraculously?—deciding to cuddle up ahead of Silas’s heart.

Silas refuses to let anyone take the child: she’s his replacement for the gold. Cue the life-changing montage. Silas takes advice from his neighbors, has her baptized, and stops hoarding for the sake of hoarding. subsequent sixteen years pass during a haze of neighborly good-feeling and childish hijinks.

When Part Two opens, we meet a grown-up Eppie. She’s eighteen, adorable, and everybody loves her, above all Dolly Winthrop’s son Aaron. But all isn’t swell at the Red House: Godfrey and Nancy are childless. One day, Godfrey involves give Nancy some news: first, they’ve found Dunstan. He was lying drowned at rock bottom of the quarry, which has been drained as a close-by landowner improves his land. Second, Dunstan had stolen Silas’s money, and therefore the money has now been returned to Silas. Third, Eppie is Godfrey’s child.

Nancy and Godfrey offer to adopt Eppie, but she refuses. She loves Silas, she loves the villagers, and she’s getting to marry Aaron. The novel ends with a marriage. As Aaron, Silas, and Eppie—who would be unbearably annoying, if she weren’t fictional—enter their little cottage, Eppie sighs happily.

Chapter 1

Meet Silas Marner. He’s a linen-weaver who lives within the village of Raveloe, and other people do not like him. Well, they do not trust him. Weaving requires tons of skill, and peasants are suspicious of individuals who have any particular “cleverness” (1.1.1).
They figure he’s got other powers than weaving—like the type of powers that will cure sickness and perhaps even make people sick.

Raveloe may be a two-horse, one-stoplight, no-good-movie-theater town. it is far away from everything, it’s got no nightlife, and its residents haven’t any ambition.
Silas has been the village outcast there for fifteen years. He doesn’t entertain the women, he doesn’t farm, and he doesn’t have friends. He’s the guy making puppets while all the opposite dudes are playing football.
Jem Rodney even saw him during a fit at some point, leaning on a fence sort of a dead guy.
But he weaves fine cloth, therefore the villagers tolerate him. For fifteen years he lives with them, unchanged.
Or so it seems.
Here’s a touching backstory:
Before Silas came to Raveloe, he has way involved a Dissenting church during a place called Lantern-Yard, a neighborhood of a producing city up north.
Brief digression: within the 19th century, most of the people were Anglicans, a part of the state-sponsored Protestant Church of England. people that didn’t belong to the church, mostly Baptists or Methodists, were called Dissenters. Dissenters visited “chapel” while Anglicans visited “Church,” and that they were often workers and makers.
Anyway, Silas may be a Dissenter. He and therefore the church is one big happy family until he falls into a trance during a prayer-meeting.
The church members are pretty cool about it, albeit Silas refuses to pretend that he’s had a spiritual vision.
Silas also features a good friend within the church, William Dane. the 2 talk tons, mostly regular dude stuff like whether or not they have been granted eternal salvation. Even Silas’s fiancée, Sarah, can’t get between them.
After Silas’s trance, William starts acting funny, almost like he’s jealous of the eye Silas gets.

Now we get to the climax of this backstory: one night, Silas sits by the deathbed of 1 of the church members. the subsequent day, the church elders accuse him of stealing money. He denies it, of course, but what’s this? William found the bag of cash in Silas’s dresser, and Silas’s knife within the man’s drawer. Of course, he did.
Silas suddenly remembers something: “the knife wasn’t in my pocket” (1.1.11-12), he tells the accusers. William had borrowed the knife. does one see where this is often going?

No trial by a jury here: Silas is subject to special church laws, then he has got to play a game of chance to work out his guilt or innocence. He draws the short straw, which suggests he’s guilty.
Silas is exiled. Before he leaves, he accuses William of taking the cash and rejects God: “there is not any just God that governs the world righteously, but a God of lies” (1.1.15).
Guess what happens next? Sarah and William marry. Ooh, burn.

Chapter 2

Our somewhat verbose narrator waxes philosophically about how hard it’s to maneuver to new places.
Silas might also be an alien amid the merry crew of Raveloe peasants. He seems like God has deserted him.

All work and no play makes Silas an upscale man. He only starts weaving for something to try to, but the primary time he gets his hands thereon gold something magical happens. It’s extra money than he’s ever had in his life, and now he’s got the bug.
Around the same time, Silas tries to form friends. He hooks up the cobbler’s wife, Sally Oates, with some medicine made from foxglove (a flower that even today doctors use to form the drug digitalis for people with heart disease).

The medicine works so well that Silas features a new problem on his hands: he’s popular for all the incorrect reasons. The villagers think he’s some quite witch, but, rather than trying to burn him, they flood him with requests for charms.
He sends them away, and therefore the villagers respond by blaming him for all their woes.
Meanwhile, Silas adds to his money collection. He doesn’t need the cash, but he sure likes piling it up. (Who wouldn’t?) in the dark, Silas hangs out together with his hoard, admiring the form and color of the coins. He keeps it hidden, albeit he doesn’t fear robbers.
Silas gradually starts to wither and shrink, as misers do.
Besides money, the sole thing he loves is an old clay pot. When he breaks it at some point, he keeps the pieces as a sort of shrine.
This goes on for fifteen years: Silas weaves all day and fondles his money all night. Then everything changes

Chapter 3

But first, let’s meet Squire Cass.
Squire Cass is the most vital man in Raveloe. The farmers have low standards so that they assign him the title “squire” albeit he doesn’t deserve it. (Squires traditionally owned many lands, had a coat of arms, and were associated with peers.) sort of a real landlord, he collects rent from tenants.

Brief historical digression: this is often all happening about the time of the Napoleonic Wars (beginning of the 19th century), which is sweet for people that own land. The wars finally ended when England, and therefore the Russian winter, put an end to Napoleon’s rather successful march across Europe.
In Raveloe, what’s good for the rich is sweet for the poor, since the poor get the leftovers of the rich.
During the Christmas season, all the rich travel from house to deal with at each other’s parties. Parties at Squire Cass’s are the simplest because his wife is dead—which means there is no limit to the food.
Sadly, the villagers think, his sons are a touch wild. Dustan (Dunsey to his friends) likes to drink and gamble, and therefore the older Godfrey seems to be following his example. If only Godfrey would marry Nancy Lampeter! She’s a pleasant girl, thrifty without being cheap.

Anyway, it’s fifteen years after Silas moved to Raveloe, and now the action is starting. Godfrey stands during a dark parlor together with his back to the hearth and his hands in his pockets.
Dunsey walks in, and Godfrey scowls. (Looks like there’s not much solidarity here.)
Both guys are a touch drunk. they begin to fight. It seems that Godfrey gave some rent money to Dunsey instead of handing it over to his father. Why doesn’t Godfrey just rat his brother out? Because Dunsey might rat him out. Godfrey’s married already—and his wife, Molly Farren, maybedrunk. (We sense a topic .)
So Dunsey tells Godfrey to urge the cash himself, nagging at him to borrow or to sell his horse until Godfrey threatens to only come clean to their father.

Godfrey’s got an enormous strong body but a weak mind, and he can’t decide what to try to to. He’s afraid to lose Nancy Lampeter, but the sole solution he can come up with is enlistment within the army. Dunsey comes up with a potentially less-lethal option. He offers to sell the horse for him, and Godfrey agrees.
As miserable as Godfrey is, he’d be more miserable if his secret came out. Nancy would reject him, and (worse!) his father would disinherit him.

Chapter 4

The next morning, Dunstan triggers on his new horse, Wildfire. He passes Silas Marner’s cottage and suddenly realizes he should have suggested that Godfrey borrow money from Silas. He almost heads home to try to just that then decides it’s far more fun to observe Godfrey squirm.
Dunstan sells the horse to men named Keating and Bryce and agrees to deliver it after he’s done looking for the day. Big mistake. The horse promptly impales himself on a fence stake and dies.

Dunstan is a smaller amount upset about this than you would possibly think. He’s mostly grateful that no one’s around to ascertain the accident, and he starts walking home because he doesn’t want to seem at the stable to rent a horse and let the stableman know that he’d had an accident.
He’s got a whip in his hand, a pleasant gold one. It happens to be his brother’s, but that does not bother him—heck, it probably adds to the experience.

As the night grows darker and wetter, he finds himself near Silas’s cottage. Silas’s gold starts to look powerfully interesting. He decides to bypass Godfrey and ask Silas for the cash himself.
But Silas isn’t home.
Not one for social graces, Dunsey lets himself in and sits down by the hearththere is a sausage roasting within the fireplace, and Dunsey wonders where Silas is. Maybe he’s dead? He notices some sand on the ground.
In a second, he’s moved the sand, got the bricks up, snatched two heavy leather bags, and left—rather ominously, he steps “forward into the darkness” (1.4.11). Yeah, we’re thinking that’s metaphorical.