Silas Marner - Development

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  • Topic: Silas Marner, George Eliot, Ben Kingsley
  • Pages : 5 (1915 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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With close reference to particular incidents, show how Silas Marner's character develops through his experiences.
Silas Marner is introduced as a "pallid young man, with prominent, short-sighted brown eyes" who led a quiet life in the small country community, Lantern Yard. He is a skilled hand loom-weaver of "exemplary life and ardent faith"; His work, friends and faith have a huge part in his life, making him an open and honest person. Silas certainly possesses a flawed character, which we see quite clearly in his dealings with others. From the money he made as a weaver, he only kept a small part for himself, giving the rest to the church and to the poorer people who needed it in the evangelical sect he belonged to.

Silas is good-hearted, honest, and vulnerable human being which we see through out the book. In the beginning, he trusted the people he co-existed with particularly his best friend, William Dane. "The expression of trusting simplicity in Marner's face" and "that defenceless, deer-like gaze" "strongly contrasted the self-complacent suppression of inward triumph that lurked in the narrow slanting eyes and compressed lips of William Dane. He led a good, hard-working and self-denying life following his simple religious faith until he was falsely accused of stealing money belonging to a very sick priest.

Silas did nothing to try to defend himself believing that God would help to prove his innocence but after the drawing of the lots, which was customary at the time to determine a man's innocence or guilt, showed that Silas had in fact stolen the money, his deep faith in God was shattered as was his faith in man. He had been betrayed by his best friend who had set him up for the crime and married his fiancé, a maid called Sarah. Silas suffered from cataleptic fits where he went "into a mysterious rigidity and suspension of consciousness". Silas' illness was not understood by the community; his cataleptic fits made him "evidently a brother selected for a peculiar discipline" and according to William Dane, the perfect person to frame for a crime that he committed himself.

Silas comes to the rural village community of Raveloe after his being mistreated by the people he trusted in Lantern Yard and expelled from his church. He arouses the villagers' suspicions and fears by inviting "no comer to step across his door-sill". The villagers' old-fashioned, superstitious beliefs have not yet been changed by new ideas and inventions. They treat him as an outsider because they do not know anything about where he came from or about his past. Their unfriendly, indifferent behaviour is also due to Silas' own misunderstood behaviour towards them.

After helping Sally Oates, a woman who had the same illness that Silas' own mother had, by making a potion from herbs that cured her, he refused to help all the other people who turned to him and believed he was a medicine man. Silas did not act like that out of selfishness. He could have easily pretended to have more knowledge than he actually had and taken their money but he truthfully told them that he did not know much about herbs and did not want to hurt them by making a mistake or giving them the wrong herb which could be just as deadly as it could be helpful. This caused the villagers to shut Silas out of their life and for Silas to spend fifteen years in isolation and utter loneliness, not communicating with any residents in Raveloe but spending most of his time at the Stone Pits which was his home.

He seeks a new life with new acquaintances in Raveloe but was again alone, as no one trusted him. He finds that his greatest joy lies in collecting money. Silas' obsession with money is particularly strange because he has no goal in mind for his wealth. He collects it with the same fervour that once drew him to his religion, enjoying the feel and look of it more than its actual value. He likes the...
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