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In Silas Marner, Dolly represents the "Raveloe theology". How does she describe it?

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user3120320 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted February 3, 2013 at 7:25 PM via web

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In Silas Marner, Dolly represents the "Raveloe theology". How does she describe it?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:35 PM (Answer #1)

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Content, simple, and not extremely academic, we find in the character of Dolly Winthrop the quintessential example of the classical country woman: the matron of all, who is always there to provide comfort and advice when most needed. Known for being the wheelwright's wife, and for her famous lard cakes, Dolly epitomizes comfort, devotion, and joy. It is ultimately she who will serve as the main backbone of support in Silas's raising of Eppie. Having described her, it comes to no surprise that this bucolic lady is a fervent believer in the customs and traditions of Raveloe, especially the religious aspect of celebration. 

In chapter 10, Dolly and her lard cakes come to the rescue to try and cheer up the very mortified Silas, who is under a deep depression that arises as a result of having had all of his gold stolen, unkbeknownst to Silas, by Dunstan Cass. Aside from the comfort food, Dolly brings with her some advice: that Silas should start going to church because it will do him more good than he thinks.

In her simple language, Dolly then begins to describe the feeling of listening to the carols and the comfort and peace that come from the words from the pulpit.

For I feel so set up and comfortable as niver was, when I've been and heard the prayers, and the singing to the praise and glory o' God, as Mr. Macey gives out --

She also explains how when she feels troubled, or when she has needed help, she can draw strength from the words that Mr. Crackenthorp says. She basically tells Silas that, if he too goes to church and listens to the wise words of the pastor, he will also be able to find the answers to his questions if only he gives himself to the words in the manner in which she does.

and Mr. Crackenthorp saying good words, and more partic'lar on Sacramen' Day; and if a bit o' trouble comes, I feel as I can put up wi' it, for I've looked for help i' the right quarter, and gev myself up to Them as we must all give ourselves up to at the last;

Lastly, she humbly and in a somewhat ignorant manner rests validity to rationality. She believes that the job of the parishioner is to listen, accept, and to believe the words of the pastor. That if Silas believes, he will come closer to God.

and if we'n done our part, it isn't to be believed as Them as are above us 'ull be worse nor we are, and come short o' Their'n.

We know that her words did not even make a dent on Silas's psyche nor did they move his thoughts away from the fact that his gold was gone. In fact, Silas was eager to release Dolly so that he could go back to weaving and mourning. However, it is in Dolly's speech that we as readers realize the state of mind of Raveloe: it is a place where the hands of time and industrialization have not yet touched the essence of humanity in most of its inhabitants. For this reason, they can still boast a much simpler life where prayer can fix anything that comes your way.

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