Not only does the past influence the practices and culture of Raveloe, but it also influences its structure. The roles of the villagers are often inherited from their fathers or family members. We learn that the villagers are somewhat unhappy with the fact that Doctor Kimble had no son to continue his vocation, “time out of mind the Raveloe doctor had been a Kimble” and it would be difficult to come to terms with a doctor with another name. Mr. Macy also notes in the chapter six that his “family’s be known for musicianers as far back as anybody can tell”. This certainly creates a sense of tradition with each family, which dictates the structure of the Raveloe society.
Not only does the past still play a role in the Raveloe community, but also, the role played by it is often central. It is often looked upon as source of authority and wisdom.
While Squire Cass was given his title partly because of his wealth, what separated him from Mr. Osgood was that his family was seen to be of “timeless origin”. The age of the Cass family provides it with authoritative power. In chapter seven, the fact that knowledge of the law was imparted to him by his father, seems to have given greater validity to statement that no doctor could be a constable. It can be thus seen, that the past is often seen as a reliable source of wisdom - its support or acknowledgment carrying considerable weight. It is for this reason that Mr. Macy was looked at with great respect even by the Squire. The fact that history played such an important and central role in the community, ensured that it will not be easily disposed of.
Due to this effects of the past on present Raveloe society, its possesses a rich and common culture. An important part of this Raveloe culture is the church as well as the Christian festivals such as Easter and Christmas. While they certainly do serve spiritual purposes, this is not their only role in society (indeed most of the village’s concept of Christianity is not quite clear). They also serve as a focal point to bring the community together. The process of attending Sunday services and especially the ‘major’ occasions such as Easter and Christmas, serves to reaffirm the glue that binds the community together as well as reaffirm each and every individual’s role in society. The integration of the religious and secular can be seen in the role and personality of the parson. The Raveloe community expected him to “set an example in these social duties”, such as the New Year’s Eve dance at the Red House. There are other such institutions and traditions in the Raveloe culture which serve a similar role, such as the meetings and conversations held within the Rainbow Inn.
All this serves to create a close-knit and ‘organic’ community. It is close knit in the sense that most people are willing to do their part for to help the community and their fellow villagers. The perfect example of this is how, in chapter seven, the villagers at the Rainbow, a quick to offer their aid to Silas who has just been robbed. We remember that Silas had been alienated for the past sixteen years, and this change in the attitudes of the villagers is remarkable. They act in this way because it come naturally to them – it is how the Raveloe society functions.
Which brings us to the point of about the community being ‘organic’. This basically means that the community, due to slowly evolving nature and common culture, has an ability to regulate itself, in a similar way to nature maintaining the balance of forces in this world. We see this ‘organic’ nature present in two instances. Firstly, in the ‘multiplication of orts’, which is in a way an in built welfare system. Secondly, in the fact that crime is deterred due to the close-knit nature of the community. Part of the reason Jem Rodney is not suspected to have taken Silas’ money is because he would not be able to do anything with it. In this way, we can see that the community has its own system of regulation.
We can contrast this to the community in Lantern Yard. A product of the industrial revolution, Lantern Yard is an instantaneous creation rather than “a slowly evolving organism”. In place of a common culture it has a common dogma that is hardly the same thing. This of course results in its failings. The most obvious example of this is the false conviction of Silas. The society in this case was unable to ensure justice, or more generally, the interest of its people was carried out. However, we can also see the community’s failing through Silas’ state of mind after the conviction. The society in Lantern Yard is unable to develop an individual in a holistic manner.
Thus, it be seen that a slowly evolving community like Lantern Yard, with its strong sense of history that plays a central role in its workings and rich culture that binds its people together was something George Eliot seemed to favour. Its positive aspects – its warmth and neighborliness as well as its self-regulation – are conveyed throughout the course of the novel. This is contrasted with the community of Lantern Yard, which lacks these qualities. Silas Marner’s life is very much a testament of this fact.