How Does Silas Marner Change And Develop During The Course Of This Novel
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During the course of this novel Silas Marner’s life undergoes some dramatic changes. These changes affect his life in many different ways. He had to learn to cope when he was betrayed by the people he trusted the most. He was forced to move to a village where he becomes distant from the community. Silas had no real love for anything apart from money. When this was stolen, Silas found himself heart broken. A young girl brings joy into his life and he learns to love again. His love for her brings him into the community where his faiths and beliefs are brought back to him once more.
The story begins with Silas living in a quiet village called Raveloe. He is a bitter, angry, indignant man who lives in self-imposed isolation, away from the other villagers. The reason for his way of living started fifteen years ago in an industrial village called Lantern Yard. He was a weaver and part of a religious sect. He is kind hearted and popular among the other villagers, he had good knowledge of herbal remedies but believed that faith in itself was good enough to cure anyone. His life revolved around religion. He was a very faithful man and put all his trust in God.
Most of the money Silas made as a weaver was given away to ‘piety and charity’. He suffered from cataleptic fits, which he could claim to be visions of God but he is too honest and truthful to do this. While having one of these fits, at the bedside of the unwell priest, he was betrayed by his best friend. This friend, William Dane, framed Silas with taking the priest’s money, and said that Silas’s fits were visions from Satan ‘to give Satan an advantage over you’. Silas trusted his faith and refused to lie at his trial, ‘God will clear me’ he believed.
After the drawing of the lots, Silas was found guilty and was forced out of Lantern Yard leaving behind his only love Sarah who ended up marrying William Dane, the one who had betrayed him. He left believing there was no god ‘There is no just god that governs the earth righteously’. He continued to work as a weaver but found he had no reason to give his money away to good causes. Now he could keep it for himself. He became very greedy and began to hoard the money. Silas didn’t need friends if he had money ‘that was deep enough for the seed of desire’.
The money also keeps him occupied. In those long nights Silas would sit and count his money and bathe his hands in it and sometimes stare at the money as if he were in a trance. This eventually became a sort of ritual for Silas. His obsession grew as more money was rolling in. Silas would work on his loom day after day like a selfless ‘spinning insect’, to ensure that the money never stopped landing in his palm. Although he seemed heartless, his instinct to help people as he had done in Lantern Yard did come to the surface one day, when he was going to get his shoe mended.
The cobbler’s wife Sally Oates was suffering from a disease much like the one his mother had died of. Silas remembered the relief his mother had found in a herbal remedy. Although he did not know Sally very well he wanted to help her, so he made the remedy and gave it to her. This shows that Silas did remember his past, and deep down he was still the kind man that lived in Lantern yard fifteen years ago, only now he was scared to show his emotions. Silas seemed frightened of making new friends in case they betrayed him like his other friends had done before.
Once the villagers had heard about Sally’s remarkable recovery, they started to badger Silas for cures and were even willing to pay him but Silas refused their money. Although his love for gold was great he was still an honest man and would not sell cures he was unsure of. This suggests that his beliefs meant more to him than anything else even his gold. The villagers did not understand Silas’s ways and were confused at why he wouldn’t help them. This distanced Silas further from the villagers.
Silas had also shown emotions for house hold utensils. He had an earthenware pot which had been with him for several years and had been used every day to collect water. One day the pot was broken and Silas was devastated. Instead of throwing the pot away, as there seemed to be no use for it any more, he carefully placed it back on the shelf, propping ‘the ruin in its old place for a memorial’. This unusual behaviour shows that he had chosen objects as company because they could not criticise him or hurt him in any way.
One night when returning home from delivering some linen, Silas settled down and went to collect his money from his hiding place ready to marvel at. To his horror the money did not appear to be there ‘The sight of the empty hole made his heart beat violently’. This money was Silas’s life, without this what would he do? He was determined that he had misplaced the money ‘he turned his bed over and shook it’. It took Silas a very long time for him to get over the loss of his gold that he had loved as a companion for so many years.
This shows the devotion he had to the money. In the hope that his money would return he would frequently go out side and check for any signs of it. He fell into one of his cataleptic fits while outside and a little girl who’s mum had died managed to get into Silas’s house and fell asleep by his fire. When Silas returned into the house he saw the girl thinking it was his money ‘his own gold brought back to him mysteriously’ he was amazed and ‘his heart beat violently’. This shows that his love for gold was greater than it seemed to be.
The image of the gold he saw in front of him appeared to get larger. He went to feel his gold and was shocked to find that it was soft, when he realised it was the hair of a little girl his immediate thought was that it was his little sister who had died when they were young. This suggests that Silas still had feelings for the people in his past and longed to be with them once more. Seeing the girl brought back strange feelings to Silas ‘the old home and the old street leading to Lantern Yard’ he remembered all of his old friends who he would never see again.
This child brought back memories that Silas had never thought of since he had been living in Raveloe. He comforted the child and gave her brown sugar to put on her porridge, which he never let himself do. Silas was still a loving caring man who still cared deeply for his family this is shown by his instinct to care for the girl. He named the child Eppie after his sister. After being advised to christen the child, Silas was determined to do everything he could for her. He did not no how to teach the little girl things but was willing to learn.
A neighbour offered him help but he was reluctant to accept it because he was worried that the child would grow to love someone else instead of him, ‘ but I want to do things for it myself, else it may get fond o’ somebody else’. The thought of losing the child now that he had grown so warmly to her frightened Silas and made him wary of everyone. This is reflected when Silas did not want the villagers to know about Eppie coming to him while he was in a trance in case he was seen to be an unsafe father.
Trembling with emotions mysterious to him’ Silas held the girl close to him hoping that she would stay with him forever. Silas was unable to worship his money now that he was not alone. Caring for Eppie had brought him out of his isolation. The gold that ‘was hidden from day light and was deaf to the song birds’ had kept Silas isolated for all those years but now he had Eppie ‘a creature of endless claims and ever growing desires, seeking and loving sunshine’. She forced Silas out of the house to explore and to meet new people. He started to go back to church and interact with his neighbours.
Silas’s gold was hard and had no real purpose but Eppie was alive and needed a different type of attention, which brought Silas back into the community. Eppie brought all Silas’s old memories back and made him think about living the way he had before and he started to get back into his old habits ‘sitting on the banks, Silas began to look for those once familiar herbs’. Silas got very attached to the child and started to think of her as his own. She escaped from the loom one day and Silas was heartbroken once again but when he found her he was so relieved ‘overcome with convulsive joy at finding his treasure’.
Before his treasure had been his gold but now his new treasure was Eppie. When Silas first moved to Raveloe his life was dark and his eyes were narrow looking no further than his gold. He did not want or need friends because he believed they would let him down. Eppie opened his eyes to a new life, one containing happiness and joy ‘his large brown eyes seem to have gathered a longer vision as is the way with eyes that have been short sighted in earlier life’. The novel shows that all love should be cherished especially the love for life and happiness that Silas found with Eppie.