Explain the significance of chapter 12, with reference to Silas Marner and Godfrey Cass.

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Sam Mulholland                09/07/03

Prose Study

Explain the significance of chapter 12, with reference to Silas Marner and Godfrey Cass.

The significance of chapter 12 is a turning point or pivot in the personalities of some of the characters and in the plot. Silas Marner himself and Godfrey Cass are directly involved in the pivot, while Molly, Dolly, Nancy, Eppie and Aaron are all involved indirectly. This chapter changes the plot of the book completely and for that reason alone it is significantly important.

In chapter 12 many events happen which change the course of the book. Silas Marner finds a child in his house suddenly after having a fit which he was unaware of. He then goes outside looking for someone who may own the baby but only to find a poor woman who appears dead in the snow. Silas runs to the Red House clutching the baby in his arms. He asks for assistance, which includes Godfrey’s help as he recognizes the child as his own. Godfrey finds the dead woman who is identified by him as Molly Farren. However he keeps this a secret and tells no one. He wants his marriage and the fact he has a child to be kept secret at the moment.

Silas wants to adopt the child as his own because he feels that the child has come to him for a reason. Marner fills the hole in his heart with the child where as before it was filled with money. The child has switched places with his money and therefore develops his personality to a kinder more caring and compassionate man than before. This is shown when Silas gives the child some sugar, which he wouldn’t eat for himself, “he had refrained from using it for himself: as he put the spoon into her mouth”. Godfrey wants to marry Nancy Lammeter, so when he finds out his wife is dead and Silas has his child, he sees this as a good thing as now nothing can hold him back from marrying Nancy. This shows his selfishness or moral cowardice as he thinks Silas will look after his child so he wants to marry Nancy to benefit himself. Godfrey is preventing the child having her birthright because it suited him.

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Before this pivot Silas worked at Lantern Yard where he was content and highly thought of as he was accepted in his community and society, “Marner was highly thought of”. He regularly attended church having faith in God, “ardent faith”. But he is betrayed, blamed for something he didn’t even do. His friend betrays him, but his God doesn’t help him prove his innocence. He could have stayed in Lantern Yard but he would have been a shamed man so he chooses to leave. His old job has left “loveless chasms” in his life. He travels to Raveloe and ...

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