Justice in Silas Marner
‘At the end of Silas Marner, there is a feeling that justice has been done: that the bad have been punished and the good rewarded.’ To what extent is this statement true? For centuries, the definition of justice has been disputed over by wise men of all countries. Through the works of Plato, the views of Socrates are recorded for all to read and reflect upon. He believed that justice was good, and the good could only be attained through self-knowledge. In the Republic, Socrates defines justice as ‘working at that which he is naturally best suited,’ and ‘to do one’s own business and not to be a busybody’. George Eliot induces her personal opinions in and further elucidates her nineteenth century readers on the very real and prevalent issue of justice by intertwining several cases between characters in her novel Silas Marner, cleverly using terms that can be interpreted in various ways and presenting as clearly progressing throughout. Justice is shown to have prevailed at the end of Silas Marner by contrasting it with injustice in the beginning, as the reader becomes familiarized with Silas’s situation and standing with justice. After leaving the vestry, Silas murmurs, ‘. . . there is no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies, that bears witness against the innocent.’ This critical attitude towards his environment and world devoid of God not only sets the stage for the story but also provides contrast and room for development with the theme of justice so that the rectification in the end of the novel is represented as profound and significant. Silas has been hurt severely by the shortcomings of his friend, his fiancée and the religious systems and practices in which he had been indoctrinated with for many years like the drawing of lots and prayer independent of any actions (like defending himself verbally and not just leaving it to God to clear him). This injustice upon Silas Marner is exacerbated by the figurative...
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