Silas Marner by George Eliot

 

General Fiction

Silas Marner by George Eliot Silas MarnerGeorge Eliot; Signet Classics 1960WorldCatauthor aka Mary Ann Evans

Silas Marner is a lonely miser living in rural 1800’s England. He had been wronged in a religious cult as a young man and has since shut himself away from the world. He now weaves, earns his gold, and lives frugally. His neighbors do not understand him and he does not try to understand them.

The Squire’s family is a contrast to Marner. His sons chafe against his tight hold on the family purse strings. Dunzel, the second oldest, can easily use blackmail against Godfrey, the oldest, for schemes to help him enjoy the irresponsible life. Godfrey wants to marry the local beauty, but Dunzel has reasons to prevent the marriage.

Circumstances change. Dunzel takes off from Godfrey’s life. Two-year-old Eppy shows up in Marner’s life. Marner begins to learn about people once again.

This is one of those classics many people have to read in high school. I never had. And character’s name always seemed dismal to me, discouraging me from wanting to read this. Thank goodness I finally got past that. Because this was written before the electronic age, there are places in the book that drag to the modern reader. Despite these occasional areas, the book draws a super picture of a man gaining redemption.

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2 Comments

  1. Comment by Tom:

    Silas Marner is a simple moral fable, with complexities added. Elliott has a very developed opinion about many of the aspects of the book, including, social class, village life – before and after industrialization – and the nature of family life. The downfall of the novel is that all of these well founded ideas which should have been written as essays, have been pieced together into a basic and rather tedious plot. There are times when the novel is completely unrealistic, and after Elliott has forced her ideas on the reader she seems to give up. The end of the book is atrocious, quickly summarizing what could have been a good story, this is made worse after the very long and pedestrian introduction in the beginning, which should have been swiftly told.

    There are elements of humour, but these are not particularly humourous. The pub scene is quite funny; but it is hard to follow. It needs to be read again to understand it.

    The style is particularly inaccessible to modern readers One paragraph is three pages long. Elliott is obviously fond of her writing style. She has wild ramblings which are uninteresting and of little relevance to the plot.

    Overall Silas Marner is an educative book on the lives of ordinary English – the Midlands – folk. It shows a lot about her opinions, but is not particularly entertaining. If you are about to read Silas Marner make sure you have a Bible and a collection of Wordsworth’s poems to hand. There are constant references to them.

    I would not discourage anyone from reading this book, or any other of her works, but if you want to read about pre-twentieth century common people, read something by Emile Zola.

     
  2. Comment by Lizzie:

    I have to disagree with a review Silas Marner on this site which describes the book as a “simple fable with a few complexities added.” The author of this review claims Elliot forces her opinion on the reader and rambles on about issues unrelated to the plot. In my opinion, the author of this review has never studied this book in school. Otherwise this person would have been informed about literature that this book is deceptively subtle.

    Yes, the story is like a fable, but it has a greater importance than just a simple tale to make a point. Elliot is concerned with the origins of myths and legends and presents Silas Marner to us as such a story, with the difference that Silas is more than a symbolic device. Contrary to many people’s opinion, Elliot is never didactic in her narrative, but merely tells the story and leaves the reader to draw conclusions. The so called “rambling” sections reveal a great deal about the novel’s characters and their beliefs. Never does the author try to force her opinions on the reader.

    Even for those disinterested in the great significance of Silas Marner, the novel offers a lot in the way of an enjoyable read. Though not fast paced, it is pleasant for its humorous characatures, aand the lovely portrayal of the sleepy village of Raveloe. The plot is loaded with enough pathos to move even my teacher close to tears and a happy ending the pleases most people.

     

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