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Silas marner - not all dreams are destined to come true essay

George Eliot’s novel “Silas Marner” Essay

He had been much maligned, and had grown bitter and friendless. For comfort, he turned to work and building a crock of gold, which he kept hidden under a floorboard, and brought out at intervals to admire and gloat over. But one fateful evening, the feckless son of the local squire was passing by, and, having ridden his brother's horse to death by reckless hunting, and feeling sadly out of sorts at having to walk, and at having to explain to his brother where the money for the sale of said horse had disappeared to, and being of that class and disposition and education which had inculcated in him a deep sense of entitlement, view spoiler [the sort of white male indeed who nowadays would be running for election as prime minister hide spoiler ] this devil of a selfish trickster wandered into the linen weaver's cottage and reasoned at once that such an industrious weaver, with few material wishes, would surely have a crock of gold hidden somewhere, and divined at once that such a poor cottage cannot offer many places of concealment.

Alas, he was not wrong, and quickly purloined said bag of gold, disappearing into the night, ne'er to be seen again. But the tragedy of his stolen fortune throws him into the arms of the local community, who are sympathetic to his loss, and offer, at least, some practical help, taking him to the local officer to report the crime, although the money is not recovered.

Silas marner - not all dreams are destined to come true essay

Nor can it be, yet. For there is a different treasure in store for Silas. A child that arrives in a way that, for him, is entirely inexplicable by means of reason or deduction.

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Sent by heaven, named for his dead sister, brought up by Silas, Eppie is his path back to humanity, love and family ties. He is a loving, indulgent father to this girl, and is pleased to accept the aid and support of his neighbour, Dolly Winthrop, a woman of good sense and compassion. Silas is no longer an outcast, and when Eppie's true identity is revealed to her, she refuses the offer of riches and social prestige and respectability, preferring the warmth and loving care of the only real father she has ever known.

Eppie marries Aaron, Dolly Winthrop's son, and offers a home to Silas in his old age.

And they all live happily ever after. The rather dull show-off smart-arse reading England of the early 19th Century was a hotbed of religious dissent, discussion, dispute and debate. On one hand, the established Church could be seen as internally corrupt and seized by intellectual torpor. The Lords Spiritual were known to the irreverent as the Tory Party at prayer: As such, the established church was vulnerable to attack, both on the intellectual, philosophical level and on the social level.

It was no longer 'fit for purpose', providing neither spiritual succour nor even pastoral care in many places.

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However, on the other hand, there were constructive movements within the Church that revived debate and strengthened the Church by forcing it to take up a position.

For one, there was a huge interest in Evangelical movements, the church of Dissent, a faith that rested on the Word of God, a belief in the veracity of the word of the Bible, a focus on personal morality and acceptance of the Word. For another there was the Oxford Movement, aka Tractarianism, aka Puseyism, aka Anglo-Catholicism, a movement which had begun as protest, a defence against what was perceived as the possible subservience of the Church to temporal power.

One of the first proposals by the Whigs was to abolish the 22 Irish Bishoprics, which served a membership of a mere 850,00, although supported by the forced tithes of 6. The Anglican Church saw this as an assault on their sovereignty, an opening of the door to the dissipation of the privileges that went hand in hand with being the Established Church: A child had to be baptised for its birth to be registered, a wedding had to take place in the Anglican Church for it to be legally recognized, a burial could take place only in silence or with the Anglican rite.

Naturally enough, it was not only the Irish Catholics who felt resentful. The Oxford Movement sought to re-establish the authority of their bishops.

  1. There are no tracks.
  2. Among the crowd are Godfrey Cass, looking much the same as the young man of twenty-six, and his wife, Nancy, who is still lovely but "ripened into fuller goodness.
  3. Silas was robbed by Dunstan, but the treasure that replaced his gold was Godfrey's daughter. When he first hears of the woman's death, his first emotion is the "evil terror" that she might not be dead.

In order to do so, it was necessary to turn away from salvation through the Bible as illustrated by the inner light of the individual, and restore the idea of absolute and ultimate truth of which the Church was the mystical repository and expositor.

John Henry Newman researched early Church history in an attempt to discover unbroken continuity, to re-establish apostolic succession: The Church as mediator between god and man, which therefore should be wholly separate from state control.

This atmosphere of conflicting orthodoxies was divisive, leading to the High Church and Low Church forms of Anglicism, the one affirming sacramentalism as a means of grace, the exaltation of the symbol, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the other emphasising personal morality and salvation through acceptance of the Bible.

In the long view, these concerns may silas marner - not all dreams are destined to come true essay seen as petty in-fighting. For although the debate gave rise to a certain regeneration of the clergy, an invigorated taking up of the good fight, religion was under attack from other developments: Strauss analysed the Bible and came to the conclusion that the Old Testament was a mixed bag of human documents; tribal histories, genealogies, digests of laws, erotic songs, biographies, folk myths.

A library, an archive of man-made texts, fortuitously assembled and endowed with divine authority long after the fact.

The Gospels, similarly, comprised several versions of a biography of a historical figure named Jesus, whom an early group of disciples held to be the son of god, the Messiah, and to whom they therefore ascribed miraculous powers. Events in the Bible could not withstand historical and scientific scrutiny, but it retained its spiritual authority as a body of symbol and myth, a document of mankind's aspirations and desires.

In Silas Marner, Eliot describes a path through some of the controversies of the times she lived in. The novel is subtitled 'The Weaver of Raveloe' but Marner is not originally of Raveloe at all, in fact the novel traces the process of his becoming part of Raveloe.

Originally he comes from somewhere 'Nor'ard', one of the industrial cities, where he belonged to an unnamed 'narrow religious sect, where the poorest layman has the chance of distinguishing himself by gifts of speech, and has, at the very least, the weight of a silent voter in the government of his community.

She also portrays some of the dangers inherent in the system: Marner and his friend William Dane view spoiler [who turns out to be no friend at all hide spoiler ] spend much time discussing Assurance of salvation, and how one might know.

Scrupulous Marner confesses that he has never arrived at 'anything higher than hope mingled with fear' and envies Dane's confidence, which is based on nothing more than a dream he claims to have had. Marner it is who might seem to have the clearer sign, as he is subject to cataleptic fits, and once fell into a state of unconsciousness and rigidity at a prayer-meeting, which was generally accepted as an access of light and fervour.

But Dane is jealous of Marner, and from an access of personal malevolence, suggests that these fits are more the work of Satan than a proof of divine favour.

The great virtue of this novel is the portrayal of the community in Raveloe Essay

Dane engineers a destructive incident that casts suspicion of robbery on Marner; the community resolve on prayer and the drawing of lots to find out the truth, but the lots declare that Silas Marner is guilty. Stunned with despair, Marner leaves that northern town and the community he has known. Raveloe is that place, where the form and the feeling have never been severed.

  1. That supper is a piece of meat tied to its hanger with a string and his door key, which is the reason he failed to lock the door.
  2. But I recently discovered that the quote does not appear in anything that she wrote and that there is no evidence that she ever said it.
  3. Still, it is not beyond possibility, and the action is presented in such a way that the problem is glossed over.

It lay 'in the rich central plain of what we are pleased to call Merry England', a village where 'many of the old echoes lingered, undrowned by new voices. And indeed, we never meet the rector until the squire's New Year party, for religion here in Raveloe is organic, is tradition, is an integral part of the warp and weft of life with little concern for its significance.

Silas Marner

The festivities at New Year are open for the people of the village to come and observe from the side, an opportunity for them to see the gentle folk at play, and nothing could be more natural. For it would not have been possible for the Raveloe mind, without a peculiar revelation, to know that a clergyman should be a pale-faced memento of solemnities, instead of a reasonably faulty man whose exclusive authority to read prayers and preach, to christen, marry and bury you, necessarily co-existed with the right to sell you the ground to be buried in and to take tithe in kind; on which last point, of course, there was a little grumbling, but not to the point of irreligion - not of deeper significance than the grumbling at the rain, which was by no means accompanied with a spirit of impious defiance, but with a desire that the prayer for fine weather might be read forthwith.

Dolly Winthrop is the embodiment of that fine feeling that has never been severed from the form, although a carping evangelist might see the feeling as more superstition than spirituality. In an access of kindliness towards Marner, robbed of his gold, she brings him lard-cakes she has baked. When Eppie arrives, Dolly becomes more involved with Marner's life: She too, is a little vague, seeing it as a kind of inoculation, good things and good words to keep us from harm, and salve our conscience if, by chance, things should turn out badly - then at least we did all we could.

Dolly Winthrop is not moved by any sentiment of salvation, or good Christian duty, her religion is a matter of habit, what is the done thing. But what moves her is common decency and sympathy for a fellow human being.

  • Godfrey has not changed at all, except that he looks older;
  • No man made complete item is made from one man;
  • This instance is the first of several coincidences that are often pointed out as "unrealistic;
  • But once the point is made, the effect is softened.

These are the true bonds that sew Marner back into the fabric of community life: Shared experience, jokes, laughter, banter, well-practised comments, familiar, recognizable and pleasurable.

Well, this has turned into a term paper already, but there would be more to say about Eliot's sensitive analysis of class, her innovative use of the vernacular to portray character, her multi-layered irony and gentle humour, her graceful sentences and above all her warmth. Is that a threat?