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What does the novel Silas Marner have to say about the relationship between parents and their children?

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Introduction

"A child more than all other gifts That Earth can offer to a declining man Brings hope with it and forward looking thoughts." William Wordsworth What does the novel Silas Marner have to say about the relationship between parents and their children? The novel Silas Marner was written by George Eliot in 1863. George Eliot's real name was Mary Ann Evans and she was farced to change it because of the role of women at that time. If the book were published under a female name it would be ridiculed and would not sell. This is perhaps one of the reasons she is so critical of society. George Eliot used William Wordsworth's quote on the title page of her novel. Throughout the story of Silas Marner, she explores the nature of the relationship between parents and children through many of the characters, for example Silas and Eppie, or Godfrey and his father, the Squire. When Silas is banished from Lantern Yard for a deed committed by his closest friend, he keeps himself at a distance from the villagers of Raveloe, where he now lives almost like a hermit. He saves every penny from his weaving and builds up a fine stack of coins, which he admires and loves more than anything else. One day, he finds it gone, having been stolen by Godfrey Cass's villainous brother, Dunstan. Meanwhile, in the Red House, the house of the Squire of the village, Godfrey and his brother have an argument about money. ...read more.

Middle

Eppie grows up very happy around Silas and turns his reclusive life into the fairytale "happily ever after." His loneliness disintegrates with Eppie and the fact that she is not his natural child bothers neither Eppie nor Silas. She knows the truth but accepts that it is part of her past and lives now only for the present and future. The facts about her mother do not matter and neither of them are bothered by the truth of Godfrey being her father because they are oblivious. His attempts to discipline her fail miserably but she learns not to displease him. He goes to Dolly Winthrop for help and she suggests a short slap but Silas could not force himself to apply that to Eppie. So he ties her to a chair, only for her to cut herself away to run off again. He locks her in the coalhole and from that day on, she never angers him. If Silas sees her rope cut, he calls her and her forlorn little voice cries out from the coalhole and he lets her out. Silas and Eppie have mountainous amounts of respect for each other. This is evident in scenes such as when Godfrey and Nancy come to their cottage and try to claim Eppie. When Eppie herself is forced do decide whether she should go and live with her wealthy, upper - class birth father or Silas, Silas does nothing to stand in her way; "Eppie, my child, speak. ...read more.

Conclusion

The relationship between the Squire and his children differs greatly. They are the "baddies" of the story and are punished accordingly. The squire is uncaring with his offspring and takes great offence at their money problems, blaming them for all the misfortunes of the family. According to the quotation by William Wordsworth in the title to the essay, a child is meant to bring forward looking thoughts and hope to a declining man. I think that the way the ideas are portrayed in the novel, George Eliot does agree to this statement. When Silas is "blessed" with Eppie, his original self is brought back and comes out of his misery and dejectedness. His money takes less of a hand in controlling his life and his priorities change to looking after "his new treasure", Eppie. Another place where the quote is shown is the feelings towards Eppie from Godfrey. Although he does not take her, I feel that if she had agreed to live with him then his life would have been transformed like Silas'. Had Eppie gone to live at the Red House, Nancy would not have been so miserable at loosing a child and being unable to give birth after that. They would have had Eppie and they would have benefited from her company as much as Silas would have. However, there are exceptions to this. Molly Farran, after having Eppie, continues to take the opium and declines until her death. Also, the Squire's children did not bring him any joy although we are not clear as to whether he was a declining man when they born. ...read more.

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