A Love After God’s Own Heart
What is the foundation of Christianity? If the question being discussed is whether something is ideally Christian, then the motivation behind Christianity must be understood. The basic outline of Christianity is simple. Man exists in a fallen and depraved state. Christ died on the cross to conquer death and atone for all humanity. Those who acknowledge their need for a Savior and place their faith in this gift, shall have eternal life. That leads to the logical question of why. Why should Christ sacrifice himself for such undeserving people? Therein is found that basis, that motivation behind Christianity. Love. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NASB Jn. 3.16). Love is the heart of Christianity. God sent his Son to pay the ultimate cost for sinners because He loves them so much. Indeed, all truly Christian actions are committed out of out of love. Christ said while he was on the earth, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NASB Jn. 13.35) Christianity starts and ends with love. Love is the root of Christianity and it is also the outward manifestation of Christ in a life. God is love. Therefore, though Silas Marner is at first estranged from both God and man, the Christ-mirroring love he bestows upon Eppie is a clear reflection of God’s own nature and is ideally Christian.
George Eliot’s Silas Marner details the life of a solitary linen weaver. Silas Marner lives a life of seclusion in the town of Raveloe for 15 years while dealing with deeply inflicted emotional wounds. He loses his faith in God and his fellow man. Marner’s lone refuge is the coins he earns. He treasures them not for their monetary value, but for their companionship. Meanwhile, there is an alternate storyline of Godfrey and Dunsey Cass; sons of a wealthy landowner. The latter is a slobbering drunk while the other is well thought of. However, the former has a secret wife and child, and the knowledge of this allows the drunk to blackmail his elder brother. One day the drunk chances upon the empty house of the linen weaver. He discovers the coins and steals them. When Silas Marner discovers his loss, he elicits the help of the villagers. They search extensively for the coins, but to no avail. No one knows who has taken the coins, but Godfrey is delighted by Dunsey’s absence. On New Year’s Eve, the Cass family throws a large party and Godfrey attempts to woo the respected Nancy Lammeter. Meanwhile, Godfrey’s wife tries to bring their child to the Cass home and proclaim Godfrey’s secret to the world. However, being under the influence of opium, she falls asleep on the snowy ground. The child wanders into the nearby house of Silas Marner. When Marner finds the child and eventually the mother, he rushes to the Cass house for the doctor. The woman is found to be dead and as no father comes forth for the child, Marner claims it as his own. He names the child Eppie and does his best to raise her. He is often given motherly advice by his friend Mrs. Winthrop.
Sixteen years go by and Eppie is now 18. Godfrey is married to Nancy. Godfrey regrets not claiming Eppie and decides it is time for her to come live with them. He tells Silas and Eppie the truth and asks Eppie if she wants to come live with him and his wife. Eppie declines, saying Silas is the only father she has known. Later, while a pit is being drained near Silas’ house, the body of Dunsey is discovered and with it Silas’ money, which is returned to him. Silas uses the money to return to his old home for closure on his past wounds, but the entire place is gone. When Silas returns, Eppie gets married to Mrs. Winthrop’s son and the story concludes with Eppie and her husband living happily with Silas.
The child Eppie does not have a father, so Silas Marner...