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What is an explanation of Eliot's statement in Silas Marner that those raised in...

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user3120320 | Salutatorian

Posted April 14, 2013 at 7:35 PM via web

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What is an explanation of Eliot's statement in Silas Marner that those raised in humbler stations are often happier than those who are raised in luxury?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 16, 2013 at 6:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Life is usually simpler and happier for those raised in the bucolic environment than for those of the estate. For, often wealth complicates one's life as the pressures of social position and money bear upon one's nature. Certainly, the character of Silas Marner depicts the dangers of placing too much value upon the material possession of money. For, he is alienated from the community of Raveloe and becomes dehumanized as he sits mechanically weaving all day and evening. Likewise, the quarrels between the brothers Cass revolve around money. When Molly dies, it is with great apprehension that Godfrey awaits any recognition of the woman and her orphaned child by the members of the community. So many times, then, there are links in the lives of the upper class that must be severed or kept, depending upon the situation, and people cannot be completely themselves. For instance, because he has feared the recognition of his secret marriage, Godfrey will not acknowledge his daughter. However,  some years after he marries the socially prominent Nancy Lammeter, the stone-pit near Marner's cottage goes dry and the remains of Dunsey Cass are found, along with Marner's money. Godfrey informs his wife of this crime, and he confesses to being Eppie's father, adding that if he had told her about his marriage and child, she would have rejected him. Nancy forgives him, but tells Godfrey who wishes Eppie to live with them ,

"It's another you did the wrong to; and I doubt it can never be all made up for.....

"It'll be different coming to us, now she's grown up....But it's your duty to acknowledge her and provide for her; and I'll do my part by her...."

However, Eppie does not wish to leave Silas, whom she loves as a father. Having  lost his gold, Silas has been desolate, but after little Eppie has found her way into his cottage, his life has become rich. In Chapter XIX, he tells her how forsaken he was after losing all he owned, but since she has arrived, "our life is wonderful." She agrees, and informs Godfrey, who has come for her, that she does not wish to live with him and his wife. This wish Godfrey and Nancy respect and depart. After returning to Red House, Godfrey tells his wife that he has paid severely for not having acknowledged his child because he was worried about his social situation. 

In contrast to Godfrey is Dolly Winthrop, whose simple ways are genuine; she is always willing to assist those in need, comforting Silas when he loses his gold and when he gains his golden child. She delights in children, and has a true Christian fervor. Unlike Godfrey Cass, Dolly Winthrop suffers no pangs of conscience for cruel or uncharitable acts. With her family, Dolly lives a happier life than those of luxury. For she is wiser than Godfrey Cass as her words to Silas Marner reveal,

"And if you could but ha' gone on trustening, Master Marner, you wouldn't ha' run away from your fellow-creaturs and been so lone."

In his concern for social prestige, Godfrey, too has run away and "been so lone" when he could have had Eppie.  For, it is wealth that often parts the man from love, not nature and common sense.

 

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