Silas Marner: Notes

Silas Marner: Notes

Silas Marner: Notes

Silas Marner: Notes

Synopsis

The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.

Including

  • Life and Background of the Author
  • A Brief Synopsis
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Character Analyses
  • Critical Essays
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    In the village of Raveloe lives a weaver named Silas Marner. He is viewed with distrust by the local people because he comes from a distant part of the country. In addition, he lives completely alone, and he has been known to have strange fits. For fifteen years he has lived like this.

    Fifteen years earlier, Silas was a respected member of a church at Lantern Yard in a city to the north. His fits were regarded there as a mark of special closeness to the Holy Spirit. He had a close friend named William Dane, and he was engaged to marry a serving girl named Sarah. But one day the elder deacon fell ill and had to be tended day and night by members of the congregation, as he was a childless widower. During Silas’ watch, a bag of money disappears from a drawer by the deacon’s bed. Silas’ knife is found in the drawer, but Silas swears he is innocent and asks that his room be searched. The empty bag is found there by William Dane. Then Silas remembers that he last used the knife to cut a strap for William, but he says nothing to the others.

    In order to find out the truth, the church members resort to prayer and drawing of lots, and the lots declare Silas guilty. Silas, betrayed by his friend and now by his God, declares that there is no just God. He is sure that Sarah will desert him too, and he takes refuge in his work. He soon receives word from Sarah that their engagement is ended, and a month later she marries William Dane. Soon afterward Silas leaves Lantern Yard.

    He settles in Raveloe, where he feels hidden even from God. His work is at first his only solace, but soon he begins to receive gold for his cloth; the gold gives him a kind of companionship. He works harder and harder to earn more of it and stores it in a bag beneath his floor. His contacts with humanity wither. Once he gives help to a woman who is ill by treating her with herbs as his mother taught him, but this action gives him a reputation as a maker of charms. People come for miles to ask his help, and he cannot give any. As a result, he is believed to cause other misfortunes and be in league with the devil. After that, Silas is more alone than ever.

    The greatest man of Raveloe is...

  • Excerpt

    Once it was common in country areas to see men bent under heavy bags, weavers who had come from distant places. They were distrusted by the local people because they were not “born and bred in a visible manner.” One such weaver was Silas Marner, who lived near Raveloe. His pale face and protruding eyes were fearful to small boys, and he was not much liked by their parents either, for there were rumors that Silas had strange powers. Jem Rodney had seen him standing once as stiff as a dead man, but then he recovered and walked off. Moreover, Marner had cured Sally Oates when she was sick, and “he might cure more folks if he would.” All in all, it was best to be on his good side.

    Silas had come to Raveloe fifteen years earlier from a city to the north. There in Lantern Yard he had been a faithful member of a narrow religious sect, and his first fits of unconsciousness were seen as a mark of special grace. Silas was the friend of William Dane, a friendship so close that they were called David and Jonathon. Even Silas’ engagement to a young serving woman did not seem to chill that friendship. Only once William suggested that Silas’ fit was a visitation of Satan, but Silas accepted the brotherly rebuke in pained silence.

    At this time, the senior deacon fell ill, and members of the congregation took turns tending him. During Silas’ turn, the deacon died. Silas thought he appeared to have been dead for some time. Silas went to seek help and then later returned to his work. That day it was reported to him that a bag of money had been taken from the bureau by the deacon’s bedside, and Silas’ knife had been found there. Furthermore, the empty bag was found in Silas’ room. Silas remembered then that he had last used the knife to cut a strap for William, but he said nothing.

    After further deliberation, the church members decided to draw lots to see whether Silas told the truth. The lots declared him guilty. At this, Silas declared that there was no just God, and accused William of the theft. He expected that Sarah would desert him too, and he retreated to his loom for refuge. The next day . . .

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