By: George Eliot
Introduction and brief Summary:
‘Silas Marner’ is a fine novel by George Eliot. It is a story about how a great wrong was set right. Silas Marner was a weaver by occupation. He was a young man of fervid and exemplary life. He was a hardworking and honest man but he was subjected to sudden attacks that left him in a kind of sleep in which he did not know what was happing around him. He did not what he did during the sleep. He was a member of a religious community. However, a false charge of theft was brought against him by a friend. The friend acted like an enemy that almost ruined his life. Silas was utterly disappointed and left the town forever. He went to a village called raveloe. It was an agricultural village with peaceful surrounding.
At raveloe he lived in seclusion away from people. Some of his neighbours looked at him suspiciously. He lived by himself meeting almost n one. He had earned a good about of gold (money) which he counted again and again. This gave him joy and company he badly needed. He denied himself all comforts and hoarded as much gold as he could. Thus, accumulation of money and gold became the purpose of his life.
But one day, this only joy of his life was also taken away from him. Squire Cass reprobate son stole gold from his cottage. His name was Dunstan Cass. His elder brother was Godfrey. He was also a man of loose morals. He had married a low type of woman who was addicted to intoxicant called laudanum. Godfrey loved this charming woman named molly. He kept his marriage secret and bribed his brother to help him in keeping it a secret.
The loss of money made silas’ life very miserable. Efforts were made to trace the theft but it was in vain. Dunstan had disappeared from the village for long none suspected him as he often disappeared from the village for long periods. In the meantime, Godfrey began to love Nancy. Molly on New Year’s Eve died near silas marner’s cottage in the snow. Her child Eppie found its silas marner’s house.
Silas adopted the child and brought her up. She became an apple of his eye. He began to love her more than anything else. Godgrey was relieved at the death of his wife molly as his way to marriage with Nancy was now clear. He kept this fact secret from Nancy fearing that she would not marry him if she came to know that Eppie was Molly’s daughter through Godfrey.
Godfrey and Nancy were married and lived peacefully but they were not blessed with a child. Godfrey suggested to Nancy that they should adopt Eppie(his own daughter by his former wife) Nancy was against adoption and did not agree to adoption of Eppie.
Eppie turned into a charming young girl of eighteen. She knew no one as father except silas. She knew that he loved her selflessly and devotedly. She too loved him very dearly. Silas was brought into contact with neighbours through her.
In the end, Godfrey told the secret of Eppie to his wife Nancy. Dunstan’s dead body was found drowned in a pond near Silas Marner’s cottage with the stolen money. Godfrey was under the evil influence of his evil-minded brother. Now he was free from that evil. Godfrey and Nancy went to silas’s cottage and claimed Eppie as their rightful child. Eppie refused to acknowledge anyone as her father except silas. She refused to go with Godfrey. She married an honest, good natured young man and lived happily with silas Marner. The novel ends with a note of happiness.
‘Silas Marner’ describes peaceful rural life of Raveloe village very vividly. It is a charming and widely read book that shows George Eliot’s love for simple rustic life. The moral element dominates the novel. There is a fine mingling of humour and pathos. It is considered a fairy story because of its dreamy quality. It is also an allegorical tale depicting the victory of the good and the virtuous in the end. George Eliot believed in the law of nemesis and poetic justice. She believed that virtues are rewarded and vices are inevitably punished.