• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'Silas Marner' by George Eliot Aim: To examine the place of superstition and religious belief in the novel

Extracts from this document...


'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). ...read more.


Her strong use of language and philosophical interests, (such as Sila's deep questioning of God after his trial) create within the reader sympathy towards Marner for his unjust convictions. Lantern Yard is a community bound strictly by religion, not unlike Mary-Anne's own hometown. As was in many areas during the Victorian era (the period in which George Eliot's novels were devised), Lantern Yard residents were expected to attend church and follow the religious 'laws' without question. Silas at first is himself thought of as a righteous gentlemen who experienced special visions from God, in the form of fits, that were of "spiritual significance', however after the trial there is a strong questioning of this that is led by Silas' friend William Dane - "I leave our brethren to judge whether this is the voice of Satan of not." From the previous quote, it can also be suggested that through the encouragement of William, the residents of Lantern Yard began to see Silas as evil that should be greatly opposed. A little while after the trial, "it became apparent that Silas had departed from Lantern Yard", however reading between the lines it can be interpreted that Silas was driven away and left questioning the justice of God greatly, this is similar to Mary-Anne's own past as she herself was driven away from her hometown for her 'heretic' writings. ...read more.


(of the villagers), through these quotes Mary-Anne's almost calm tone portrays Raveloe as a picturesque village where life is greatly more relaxed to that of the residents of Lantern Yard. Towards the end of this inspired novel, Silas Marner returns to his home town Lantern Yard only to discover that it is no more, it can therefore be suggested that George Eliot wished to show that lives based upon unjust laws and superstitions will never last. Some could also add that as Mary-Anne herself was cast out from her hometown for blasphemy and Silas suffers a similar situation ("There is no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a god of lies, that bears witness against the innocent"), though the destruction of the strict Lantern Yard Mary-Anne's gained a small means of revenge for her own treatment. Through the use of superstition and religious beliefs Mary-Anne Evans, known to the literary world as George Eliot, transformed an otherwise simple and almost 'fairytale' plot into a masterpiece of realism, moral, social and philosophical values. Her expert use of language is carefully woven in to create a microcosm with what she herself describes as "a single drop of ink" (Adam Bede) and contributes greatly to the superb example of pre-20th century realism Silas Marner that greatly mirrors her own life. By Lorraine Katie Hodson Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE George Eliot section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE George Eliot essays

  1. How does the character of Silas Marner change and develop throughout the course of ...

    Finally Silas's mind was regaining the conscious state that it once had been in, his life, along with Eppie's "was unfolding too". Silas had more to think about during the day. He no longer needed to weave for sixteen hours, for Eppie required a huge amount of attention, and she did not like it when "dad-dad" worked for too long.

  2. Discuss The Importance of Loneliness in the Novel Silas Marner by George Eliot

    Molly dies in the snow after taking some drugs in the cold winter night. Eliot uses Eppie's golden hair as a visual parallel with Silas' gold. This accounts for his love and protection over Eppie, she has replaced his gold and now he feels good about life.

  1. How does George Eliot use Setting in Silas Marner?

    The word wealth may have two meanings; it may illustrate the richness of the two colours and also the vast quantity of flowers that are in the garden. Rather than simply describing the flowers as lilacs Eliot describes them as great lilacs, creating the image of the flowers being large, easily noticeable and very distinguished.

  2. How does George Eliot portray the changes of the character Silas Marner?

    The change in Marner that George Eliot shows is that he has started talking with people and that people in Raveloe have change there view of him and no longer regard Marner as being strange. This is shown when someone talks to him with 'respectful compassion'.

  1. Discuss How the Two Communities of Lantern Yard and Raveloe Influence the Development of ...

    This is made clear when it says, "There was nothing here...that seemed to have any relation with that life centring in Lantern Yard." Showing how different the two communities are, but there is also another difference for Silas, "It seemed to him that the Power in which he had vainly

  2. Trace the character of Silas Marner throughout the novel and explain the ideas that ...

    Silas rents his house from the Squire's son Godfrey. The little stone cottage is on the outside, away from the central community next to the old abandoned stone-pits. He is pushing himself away from the community as he has lost all faith in people.

  1. The History and Literary Context of Silas Marner.

    which was felt to be a peculiar favour of Providence towards the landed interests." During the war period the farmers could farm badly and still earn enough money to live off. The first part of the novel is also set before the Industrial Revolution so there were no factories as such.

  2. The Bad are Punished, The Good are Rewarded,Is ‘Silas Marner’ a Moral Tale?

    And "it was another element of life, like the weaving and the satisfaction of hunger" and this gives us an insight, that Silas loves his weaving as much as satisfying a hunger, and he now has this new "element of life", and that is gold.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work