Victimization in Silas Marner
In George Elliot’s Silas Marner, the protagonist undergoes a series of events that emphasize victimization from culture and people of the surrounding area. The images of Lantern Yard’s betrayal, seclusion, stolen gold, and the discovery of Eppie show Silas’s quest for self within the breaking and rebuilding of his soul. Throughout the novel, the author uses the literary technique irony to create the destruction and failure surrounding Silas’s journey. The theme quest for self exposes Silas’s inner thoughts and hidden actions behind his cold, stern attitude towards the citizens of Raveloe.
First, the author uses the image of Lantern Yard’s betrayal to evoke the beginning of Silas’s digression in society. Marner surrounds himself with individuals who create a façade of Christian values to camouflage the true crushing nature of mankind. Citizens of Lantern Yard create a bubble around their community’s image, while trapped outside their safe haven remains the reality of deception, lies, and jealousy. Silas treasures his relationship with his best friend William and fiancé Sarah. Jealousy erupted from the inside of William Dane, blinding him of his great relationship and allowing “Satan an advantage” to destroy all happiness between the two men (11). A pocketknife placed beside a “bag of church money” condemned Silas to a crime that turned the community against him (10). Mr. Marner’s faith in God and the Christian town overflows his spirit with hope, even with the discovery of Mr. Dane voicing false accusations pertaining to the previous night. Cracks form over the joyful heart; however, the hopeful spirit shall not fall. Sticks drawn to determine a fate, an outcome that changes the path of the weaver Silas Marner. Refusing to draw to determine the outcome of his false crime, Silas waits patiently for the humble God to save him from the judgmental stares of his once called friends. A twisting turn shakes the trial when the “lots declared guilty” against the main character (12). The church suspended his membership and shunned his existence, William fulfilled his jealous rage, and Sarah left her fiancé in the dust; furthermore, leaving Silas alone to his shattered soul. Marner blamed God for his loss, and lost all faith in the man he once worshiped whole-heartedly. The hardships slammed into the protagonist all in a span of a few hours, leaving him buried beneath the broken mess of his once cheerful life. Silas Marner left Lantern Yard a broken, soulless skeleton, believing he held no purpose on earth.
Second, the writer uses the image of seclusion to evoke the bone bag character’s life with no purpose. The dull travel from Lantern Yard to little Raveloe led Marner deep into seclusion. Zero human contact and a destroyed inner hope allow walls to build around the few pieces of heart left together. The curtains over the protagonist’s windows create the “blackness of night” never allowing any rays of light in the stone cottage (14). The solitude Silas created for himself solidified his heart in layers of ice, and nothing “called out his love” for he stayed hidden with his loom as comfort (15). Mrs. Osgood requested a table linen, which she paid Mr. Marner in gold for. The money “fulfilled a purpose” when no other earthly desire helped Silas feel tiny amounts of goodness (16). Gold guineas, a materialistic item, overtook the small amount of care Silas still held close to him. The old, bitter man makes a life of weaving and hoarding money to fulfill his empty life.
Third, Elliot uses the image of stolen gold to evoke Silas’s fight against the world. Dunstan Cass reveals a cunning, manipulative personality mixed with greed and self-righteousness. Mr. Fowler, a tenant of Mr. Cass’s lodge, pays his rent; however, Dunstan obtains the crowns to live and please his ravish lifestyle. Consequences arise through the clouds of guilt; Godfrey Cass pleads with Dunstan to not put a man on the streets and “hand the money” back to the rightful owner (23). With little care of what happens to the man, the younger Cass brother sets of to sell Wildfire, a horse, to gain money to repay Mr. Fowler’s rent. All the community members of Raveloe know of the secret stash of gold hidden in the Marner cottage. Ideas appear in Dunstan’s mind tempting him to ransack the stone cottage “between the bricks” for the treasure (36). Unaware of the trouble lurking outside the home, Silas leaves his cottage unlocked while he travels to town. Suffering a fatal blow, Dunstan seeks the easiest path to gathering enough money, stealing Marner’s “hard won money” (15). The temptation led Dunstan to his destination, and left an innocent man left with nothing. The world destroys the new life Silas built for himself after his haunting past, and surrounds Silas with doubt of ever returning to a soul full of life.
Last, Elliot uses the image of the discovery of Eppie to evoke the rebuilding and soaking of joy into Marner’s soul. Tragic events one winter night led to the meeting of Eppie and Silas. The “demon working his will” forbade Eppie’s mother from continuing her journey to reach Godfrey Cass, and silently passed away in the brutal winter winds (103). Child curiosity sparked when a “bright glancing light” landed on the white floors, leading the young one to the safe, comforting, and warm home (104). Silas wakes from his slumber, discovering a “heap of gold” in front of the fire in his living quarters (105). Excitement reaches his eyes; as Silas hurries over he discovers the gold turn into long stripes of soft hair. The two individuals connect through deep understanding of loneliness, and slowly create a relationship of “father and daughter” (131). Marner mends his forgotten soul with Eppie, his new light and hope.
In conclusion, George Elliot uses the images Lantern Yard’s betrayal, seclusion, stolen gold, and the discovery of Eppie to employ the transformation of Silas. The protagonist faces challenges that reshape the life he lives in Lantern Yard. The world strips Silas of the knowledge he once knew, and sends him into a new environment where he faces the unknown. The theme quest for self emphasizes the journey Silas Marner takes to find his true soul, and purpose on earth.
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In George Elliot’s Silas Marner, the protagonist undergoes a series of events that emphasize victimization from culture and people of the surrounding area. The images of Lantern Yard’s betrayal, seclusion, […]