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In Silas Marner, what is Eliot's method of description of how Silas finds the child's...

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user3120320 | Salutatorian

Posted February 27, 2013 at 7:45 AM via web

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In Silas Marner, what is Eliot's method of description of how Silas finds the child's mother in the snow?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:00 AM (Answer #1)

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In Chapter XII, Silas Marner, alone in his cottage, has come to habitually opening his door and looking out from time to time in the vain hope that somehow his money or a trace of it might appear.  On one of these occasions of opening his door, perhaps to hear the new year rung in on this New Year's Eve as he has been told doing so might bring him luck, Marner is subjected to an epileptic seizure. Consequently, he loses consciousness of what occurs; namely, that a small child has entered his cottage.  So myopic is Marner that he does not immediately see the child who warms herself at the fire.  However, when he does so, he is baffled at how the babe has entered his cottage. Marner hugs the child who resembles his dead sister, he feeds her; afterwards, she pulls at her boots and Marner removes them for her. These boots suggest to Marner that the child has come in from the snowy outdoors; he opens the door and the child begins again to cry "Mammy!" and stretches herself out towards a hedge,

...there was a human body, with the head sunk low in the furze, and half covered with the shaken snow. 

Having succumbed to the torpor of opium, Molly has died in the snow. Having used the falling snow as a purifying symbol, fate brings Marner an innocent child to his little cottage, a cherub of a child.  And, Marner's moment of catalepsy is one of transformation as he allows sunshine into his cottage, the sunshine of a child.

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