Thenovel“Silas Marner” waswritten and published George Eliot in the year 1861. The story, whichis a simple tale of a linen weaver and a miser, is more of arecollection of the author’s experiences and feelings than selfindulgence. The novel is a strong realism which represents Eliot’smost sophisticated treatment of her attitude towards religion andindustrialization among others. The opening of “SilasMarner” suggestsit a legend world, and a pastoral countryside untouched by the modernworld. The story is in a rural setting, a representation of farmingcountryside where George Eliot was brought up in her childhood.Gradually, the author also establishes the story occurs at thebeginning of the nineteenth century. This period is slightly afterEliot’s own childhood. Although the author has spent most of heradult life in the urban areas, her reflection of childhood memoriesin the countryside can be considered a product of her own experiencesand feelings in the age of her innocence.
Likeher central character in the novel, Silas Marner, Eliot does notbelieve in religion and a divine being as she is believed later toreject Christianity. In the novel, Eliot represents different faithunder the name Christianity. On one hand, there is Silas with hisjoyless, strict Lantern-Yard faith, Dolly with her buoyant almostpagan beliefs, and, on the other hand, Nancy’s clear-cut beliefsthat show how beliefs can sometimes become too rigid. Certain times,Eliot implies that religion is no better than superstition, whileother times she sympathetically describes how church rituals comfortthe faithful. Although religion is known to bind a community likeRaveloe together, many readers of Eliot’s novel can feel that Silasseems stronger for losing his faith, despite feeling lost when hebreaks his sect. Furthermore, he never regains his faith even afterhe joins the church in Raveloe. Eliot seems to rejects many churchtradition, as it is evident in the story as she seems to propose aguiding force of the universe, which suggests that redemption is aproduct of human, rather than the heavenly.
Inchoosing a long term span for her childhood experiences, Eliot showsthe readers how people and towns changed gradually over the years.For instance in the novel, Silas changes before his robbery, and thenafter finding Eppie, his adopted daughter. Eliot minutely examinesthe transition process and short-term changes, such as when Silasreturns to Raveloe thirty two years later and finds the placesdifferent from before as Lantern-Yard was wiped off the face of theearth literally. In addition, the author and his characters in thebook are connected to their own past in different degree. Silasreturns to Raveloe while Godfrey hopes to bury his past. On the otherhand, although Eliot was “prepared to move rapidly into the newworld and explore unknown territories socially and theologically”(75), she also feels bound by the customs of the ‘Olde England.’Notwithstanding her distrust of the current transition, she is unableto resist it and, therefore, it is the reason why she sets her storyin the era of social transformation.
Inconclusion, George Eliot adopts the clarity of historical perspectiveto explore contemporary social issues, but this time is, once more,the transitional society of England in the 1830s. She relates hernovel with the political urgency created by the proposed reformsunderlying political issues and the growing industrialization.
Ehlen,K. (2011). GeorgeEliot`s Silas Marner: How a Man`s Life is influenced By HisEnvironment. NY:GRIN Verlag oHG