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

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Introduction

'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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

(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.

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