The Importance Of Duty In George Eliot's Silas Marner

3782 words - 15 pages

The Importance of Duty in George Eliot's Silas Marner

In George Eliot's novel, 'Silas Marner', there is much evidence to
suggest that duty is important. In the novel 'Silas Marner', duty is
presented through parenting and community. Duty means conducts that
are due to others. Duties are various functions that we have to
follow, and they are moral obligations to others. This is all true for
this novel, but also it means to show kindness, generosity, and
respect for the community, traditions and family. Duty is a large part
of this novel and it is based upon the values of practical
Christianity, in part one. In this novel, the people are clearly
divided into two separate classes of people; those who neglect duty
and are punished, and those who honour duty and are latter rewarded.
In this novel, Silas himself has an obligation to Eppie, Eppie has an
obligation to Silas, and Godfrey has an obligation to Molly, Nancy and
his father.

However, although people respect duty, there are those in this novel
who are disrespectful towards duty, and are not in any way or form
dutiful at all. The people that neglect duty include the Cass family,
consisting of the Old Squire, Godfrey and Dunsey. Also the community
at Lantern Yard neglect duty, of which William Dane especially
neglects duty. The Lantern Yard community neglects their duty as they
wrongly accuse Silas of theft. All these people that neglect duty in
this novel, would probably regret that they ever did neglect duty as
in the end of the novel they all get punished for their wrong doings.

In this novel, the Cass family is one of the worst families, in terms
of fulfilling duty. The Old Squire was part of the Cass family, and he
was one of those people that didn't respect their duty but neglected
it. In this novel, Squire Cass is the largest landowner in Raveloe,
showing that he is a very rich person. Squire Cass neglected all his
duty; to his house and even to his own family and children. He shows
no duty towards his house at all in this novel, and he has an
appearance of 'habitual neglect'. The Squire, although wealthy, never
fulfils any duty towards the house, such as keeping the house clean
and tidy. The villagers of Raveloe largely disapproved of Squire Cass'
lifestyle and the way he neglected his duty. He is an inconsistent man
who fails to take action when he should be taking action, and then
blames everyone else. He is an example of a very bad father, as he
neglects his sons and then becomes angry at their actions. An example
of when he gets angry with his sons is in chapter 9: 'You Dunsey have
it, sir? And how long have you been so thick with Dunsey that you must
collogue with him to embezzle my money?' The villagers consider Squire
Cass as a bad father as well. Many of the villagers disapprove of the
fact that 'he had kept...

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