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In Silas Marner, as kindness in Raveloe is of "a beery and bungling sort," what...

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user3120320 | Salutatorian

Posted February 3, 2013 at 8:55 PM via web

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In Silas Marner, as kindness in Raveloe is of "a beery and bungling sort," what example of Mr. Macey's conversation proves this point when he comes to console Silas?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:21 PM (Answer #1)

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Extracting a few more words from this passage--

There was a fair proportion of kindness in Raveloe; but it was often of a beery and bungling sort, and took the shape least allied to the complimentary and hypocritical--

elucidates the simplicity of the villagers of Raveloe.  Lacking the finesse to be "complimentary or hypocritical" implies that they are simple, but honest people who have the charitable intention of consoling Silas, although they do not possess the education or refinement to enable them to choose their words carefully in order to avoid hurting his feelings. Thus, their simple and blunt honesty simply emerges in their speech.

When Mr. Macey, the clerk of the parish, visits the cottage of the weaver with the well-meaning intention of telling Silas that he is thought better of now by him, in a rather circuitous and unfavorable way, he informs Silas that he believes he is not "a deep un [one=person] and it would take "a cute man" [a clever man] to make up a tale of his money being stolen.  Therefore, Mr. Macey believes his report of theft is true; in addition, he notes that Silas "looked as scared as a rabbit" when he reported the theft. 

After this "bungling" way of trying to console Silas, Mr. Macey wonders why Marner does not respond, so he asks with some impatience, "...have you got nothing to say to that?"

"Oh," said Marner, slowly, shaking his head between his hands, "I thank you--thank you--kindly."

"Ay, ay, to be sure:  I thought you would, said Mr. Macey; "and my advice is--have you got a Sunday suit?"

Macey encourages Marner to come to church in order to hear him "say Amen." Further, he advises Silas to visit Tookey the tailor and have a suit made; he, then, makes the observation to Marner that he gets "a matter of a pound a week," noting that he can pay this poor tailor, even if he does "look so mushed." When Silas responds that he does not know, "I can't rightly say," Macey later remarks at the Rainbow that Marner's head was "all of a muddle," ironically not realizing the blunders in his own conversation to the distraught man and his obtuseness in ignoring the misery which could prevent Marner from venturing out of his cottage. 

In this passage, there is a certain tone of playful satire on the part of George Eliot in her own observation of the awkward attempts of the villagers who come to console Silas Marner.  Indeed, one can compare this scene with that of Job and his consolatory friends.

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