Silas Maner by George Eliot

Posted on April 8, 2009





By George Eliot

Written by:



14 April 2009



by William Shakespeare



Sebelas Maret University


A. Introduction

1. The Author

Mary Anne (Mary Ann, Marian) Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist. Her novels, largely set in provincial England, are well known for their realism and psychological perspicacity. Mary Anne was born on the estate at South Farm. In early 1820 the family moved to a house named Griff, part way between Nuneaton and Coventry.

George Eliot died on 22 December 1880. She now rests with Lewes in Highgate Cemetery in London, England. Her epitaph reads: “Of those immortal dead who live again, in minds made better by their presence.” Here rests the body of GEORGE ELIOT. (MARY ANN CROSS). Although Eliot’s wish to be buried in Westminster Abbey was not granted, in 1980 a memorial was placed in Poet’s Corner in her honour, among other such esteemed literary figures as William Blake, Aphra Behn, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

2. The Novel

Silas Marner was Eliot’s third novel and is among the best known of her works. Many of the novel’s themes and concerns stem from Eliot’s own life experiences. Silas’s loss of religious faith recalls Eliot’s own struggle with her faith, and the novel’s setting in the vanishing English countryside reflects Eliot’s concern that England was fast becoming industrialized and impersonal. The novel’s concern with class and family can likewise be linked back to Eliot’s own life. The voice of the novel’s narrator can thus, to some extent, be seen as Eliot’s own voice—one tinged with slight condescension, but fond of the setting and thoroughly empathetic with the characters. Though Silas Marner is in a sense a very personal novel for Eliot, its treatment of the themes of faith, family, and class has nonetheless given it universal appeal, especially at the time of publication, when English society and institutions were undergoing rapid change. This book contains 2 Chapters and 100 pages. The edition the reader had read was published by Gramedia on 2005, and retold by Katherine Lang.

B. Report

1. Theme

The major theme of this novel is sorrow and loneliness.

2. Point of View

The narrator speaks in the omniscient third person, describing what the characters are seeing, feeling, and thinking and what they are failing to see, feel, and think.

3. Style

George Eliot uses formal English dialect.

4. Setting

A village named Raveloe. Raveloe lay in the rich plain in the middle of England in a small valley sheltered by woods. The setting of time is in the early years of the nineteenth century. The second part of the book tells the story sixteen years later.

5. Characters

a.) Silas Marner

He is a simple, honest, and kindhearted weaver. He was a pale young man with lage short-sighted brown eyes. Occasionally he was taken ill with a kind of fit. After losing faith in both God and his fellow man, Silas lives for fifteen years as a solitary miser. He only thought of money.

His life changed when he found a two-years-old little girl in his house. He adopted the girl, later he named her Eppie, and began to feel happier than before. At the second part of the story, Silas Marner was not lonely anymore. He now has someone to love and care and that’s better than being rich.

b.) Hepzibah Marner

Her nickname is Eppie. She was found asleep in Marner’s house when she was two years old. Her mother died in the snow. She has got wide blue eyes and curly-golden hair.

Sixteen years later she became a lovely young girl. Eppie is pretty and spirited, and loves Silas unquestioningly. At the end of the story, she is married to Aaron Winthrop. Her true father is Godfrey Cass but she was adopted by Silas Marner.

c.) Godfrey Cass

Godfrey Cass was a fine, good-natured young man. He is selfish and weak-willed. He knows what is right but he can’t obey it because of his selfishness. He is Dunstan Cass’ elder brother and Squire Cass’ first son. He is the biological father of Eppie but at the beginning refused to tell the truth. It was because he was afraid of losing his sweetheart, Ms. Nancy Lammeter.

d.) Dolly Winthrop

Dolly helps Silas with Eppie. Dolly later becomes Eppie’s godmother and mother-in-law. She is kind, patient, and devout.

e.) Aaron Winthrop

He is a hard worker young man. He is Dolly’s son and Eppie’s eventual husband.

f.) Molly Farren

Molly is Eppie’s real mother and Godfrey’s secret wife. She died when she wanted to meet Godfrey on the snow. She has been destroyed by her addictions to opium and alcohol.

g.) Dunstan Cass

Godfrey’s younger brother. Dunsey, as he is usually called, is cruel, lazy, and he loves gambling and drinking. He died, after stole Silas Marner’s money, in the stone pit.

h.) Nancy Lammeter

Nancy is pretty, caring, and stubborn. She is the object of Godfrey’s affection and his eventual wife.

i.)Squire Cass

Squire Cass is the wealthiest man in Raveloe. The Squire is lazy, self-satisfied, and short-tempered.

j.) William Dane

William Dane was once Silas’s best friend from his childhood in Lantern Yard. William Dane frames Silas for theft in order to bring disgrace upon him, and then marries Silas’s fiancée, Sarah.

k.) Sarah

She is Silas’s fiancée in Lantern Yard. Sarah is put off by Silas’s strange fit and ends up marrying William Dane after Silas is betrayed.

k.) Mr. Lammeter

He is Nancy’s and Priscilla’s father. Mr. Lammeter is a proud man.

m.) Priscilla Lammeter

Nancy’s homely and plainspoken sister. Priscilla talks endlessly but is extremely competent at everything she does.

6. Plot Summary

In the early years on the nineteenth century lived a linen-weaver called Silas Marner. He lived in a stone cottage near the village of Raveloe. The cottage was an hour journey from any main roads so that no travelers passed through it, in other word; the village was secluded from people. Like many weavers of his time, he was an outsider—the object of suspicion because of his special skills and the fact that he had come to Raveloe from elsewhere.

Silas Marner had first come to Raveloe fifteen years before, from a place called Lantern Yard. Silas has ended up in Raveloe because the members of his religious sect in Lantern Yard, an insular neighborhood in a larger town, falsely accused him of theft and excommunicated him. He was betrayed by William Dune, his best friend.

Much shaken after the accusation, Silas found nothing familiar in Raveloe to reawaken his faith and fell into a numbing routine of solitary work. With little else to live for, Silas became infatuated with the money he earned for his work and worshipped it, living off as little as possible. Every night he pulls his gold out from its hiding place beneath his floorboards to count it. He carried on in this way for fifteen years.

Meanwhile, the story switches to the Cass Brothers. There were two siblings, Godfrey and Dunstan, or Dunsey, Cass. They are Squire Cass’ children. Squire Cass was the most important man in Raveloe. They lived at home and did no work. Dunsey was greedy and cruel, and enjoyed tormenting Godfrey, the eldest son. Godfrey was good-natured but weak-willed, and, though secretly married to the opium addict Molly Farren, he was in love with Nancy Lammeter. Dunsey talked Godfrey into the marriage and repeatedly blackmails him with threats to reveal the marriage to their father. Godfrey gave Dunsey 100 pounds of the rent money paid to him by one of their father’s tenants. Godfrey then found himself in a bind when Dunsey insisted that Godfrey repay the sum himself. Dunsey once again threatened to reveal Godfrey’s marriage but, after some arguing, offered to sell Godfrey’s prize horse, Wildfire, to repay the loan.

The next day, Dunsey met with some friends who were hunting and negotiated the sale of the horse. Dunsey decided to participate in the hunt before finalizing the sale, and, in doing so, he has a riding accident that killed the horse. Knowing the rumors of Silas’s hoard, Dunsey made plans to intimidate the weaver into lending him money. His walk home took him by Silas’s cottage, and, finding the cottage empty, Dunsey stole the money instead.

Silas returned from an errand to find his money gone. Overwhelmed by the loss, he ran to the local tavern for help and announced the theft to a sympathetic audience of tavern regulars. The theft became the talk of the village. Godfrey, meanwhile, was distracted by thoughts of Dunsey, who had not returned home. After hearing that Wildfire has been found dead, Godfrey decided to tell his father about the money, though not about his marriage. The Squire was mad at the news, but did not do anything drastic to punish Godfrey.

Silas was utterly disconsolate at the loss of his gold and numbly continues his weaving. Some of the townspeople stop by to offer their condolences and advice. Among these visitors is Dolly Winthrop. Like many of the others, she encouraged Silas to go to church—something he has not done since he was banished from Lantern Yard—but she was also gentler and more genuinely sympathetic.

Nancy Lammeter arrived at Squire Cass’s famed New Year’s dance resolved to reject Godfrey’s because of his unsound character. However, Godfrey was more direct and insistent than he had been in a long time. Meanwhile, Molly, Godfrey’s secret wife, was making her way to the Casses’ house to reveal the secret marriage. She had their daughter in her arms. Tiring after her long walk, Molly took a draft of opium and passed out by the road. Seeing Silas’s cottage and drawn by the light of the fire, Molly’s little girl wandered through the open door and fell asleep at Silas’s.

Silas did not notice the little girl enter his cottage. When he came to, he saw her already asleep after the fireplace, and was as stunned by her appearance as he was by the disappearance of his money. A while later, found Molly’s body lying in the snow. Silas went to the Squire’s house to find the doctor, and caused a stir at the dance when he arrived with the baby girl in his arms. Godfrey, recognizing his daughter, accompanied the doctor to Silas’s cottage. When the doctor said that Molly is dead, Godfrey realized that his secret is safe. He did not claim his daughter, and Silas adopted her.

Silas loved to the child and names her Eppie, after his mother and sister. With Dolly Winthrop’s help, Silas raised the child lovingly. Eppie began to serve as a bridge between Silas and the rest of the villagers, who offer him help and advice and have come to think of him as an exemplary person because of what he had done. Eppie also brought Silas out of the benumbed state he fell into after the loss of his gold. In his newfound happiness, Silas began to explore the memories of his past that he had long repressed.

On the second part of the novel, the story jumped sixteen years later. Godfrey has married Nancy and Squire Cass had died. Godfrey had inherited his father’s house, but he and Nancy had no children. Their one daughter died at birth, and Nancy had refused to adopt. Eppie had grown into a pretty and spirited young woman and Silas a contented father. The stone-pit behind Silas’s cottage was drained to water neighboring fields, and Dunsey’s skeleton was found at the bottom, along with Silas’s gold. The discovery frightened Godfrey, who became convinced that his own secrets are destined to be uncovered as well. He confessed the truth to Nancy about his marriage to Molly and fathering of Eppie. Nancy was not angry but regretful, saying that they could have adopted Eppie legitimately if Godfrey had told her earlier.

That evening, Godfrey and Nancy decided to visit Silas’s cottage to confess the truth of Eppie’s lineage and claimed her as their daughter. However, after hearing Godfrey and Nancy’s story, Eppie told them she would rather stay with Silas than live with her biological father. Godfrey and Nancy left, resigning themselves to helping Eppie from afar. The next day Silas decided to visit Lantern Yard to see if he was ever cleared of the theft of which he was accused years before. The town had changed almost beyond recognition, though, and Silas’s old chapel had been torn down to make way for a new factory. Silas realized that his questions will never be answered, but he was satisfied with the sense of faith he had regained through his life with Eppie. That summer Eppie had married to Aaron Winthrop, Dolly’s son. Aaron came to live in Silas’s cottage.

7. Moral Messages

The messages are we can’t earn a true life without someone to love. Everything in this world seems useless without love. We must remember that we are social creatures that need others.

C. Feedback

There are a lot of things that we can learn in this novel. The story is very realistic and evergreen. We still can find the problems in our daily life.

At first, the reader found difficulties in the relatives among the characters. As the reader was reading for the second time, the reader began to know each character better.

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