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Silas Marner By George Eliot Essay

2491 words - 10 pages

Silas Marner by George Eliot

· Aim: To examine the place of superstition and religious belief in
the novel

Under the pseudonym George Eliot, Mary-Anne Evans created the
microcosm that is Silas Marner. This outstanding example of realism is
delicately woven with superstitions and religious belief, all of which
are influenced by Mary-Anne's own scandalous life.

At the age of 22 'old maid' Mary-Anne ceased attending church and
began turmoil of scandalous events that would completely destroy all
her chances of a family life and make her a disgrace to the strict
Victorian community she lived within. After being cast out by her
unforgiving father, Mary-Anne moved to London and fell into the arms
of various older married men, this was unheard of during the Victorian
era and so she soon became a sinner in the eyes of those around her.

Throughout her life Mary-Anne possessed a strong desire to do well,
however it was not until she reached 38 and an encouraging lover by
the name of George Henry Lewis (the inspiration for her pseudonym),
that Mary-Anne finally wrote her first novel, an enchanting tale
entitled 'Mill on the Floss' in which the main character remains
unforgiven by her father (a bitter memory for Mary-Anne herself). The
book was a success and George Eliot soon published more novels all of
which involved key events that mirrored Mary-Anne's own life, in Silas
Marner for example, Silas is seen as an outsider in Raveloe and soon
becomes the subject of village conversation - this was a situation
that Mary-Anne was forced to face as due to her various lovers she too
became a subject of gossip and she, like Silas, turned to isolation
for comfort.

Silas Marner, George Eliot's fourth masterpiece is an enchanting tale
that follows Silas Marner losing faith in God due to his unjust
conviction, his isolation and the robbery of his gold, however the
story takes a turn when Eppie is sent to him from "I don't know
where." (Silas' amazement is evident) and Silas regains his faith once
more.

In this touching fairytale, Mary-Anne Evans (a.k.a George Eliot) uses
superstitious beliefs of the time to enhance the effects of the text
upon the reader. A good example of one such superstition is at the
beginning of the book in which the young children believe that Silas
Marner was able to "dart cramp, or rickets, or a wry mouth at any
boy," with his "large protuberant eyes". This popular belief among the
younger children however was only created because of Silas' dislike of
the children peeping through his stone cottage window whilst he was
working at his loom. This superstition of him at the beginning of the
book is only a small hint of the true wariness the villagers of
Raveloe feel towards him.

Another superb example of a situation within the novel in which
superstition...

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