Silas Marner Questions and Answers
by George Eliot

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The author uses flashback in Silas Marner. Illustrate.

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George Eliot's use of flashback in Part I of Silas Marner allows the reader valuable insight into Silas Marner's history. This flashback is shown, or illustrated, by Eliot's use of phrases like "Marner's inward life had been a history" and "before he came to Raveloe" to introduce the story of Silas Marner's past.

Furthermore, Eliot uses a different form of the past tense called the past perfect in sentences that describe Marner's life before Raveloe, like this one:

It had seemed to the unsuspecting Silas that the friendship had suffered no chill even from his formation of another attachment of a closer kind.

The past perfect tense is used when an action completed or took place at some point in the past before something else happened, making it an ideal tense to use in the context of a flashback. Silas's life in Lantern Yard had taken place before his life in Raveloe began, after all.

Finally, the flashback ends tidily right at the end of chapter 1. This conclusion marks the finish of the memory and the end of this stage of Silas Marner's life:

. . . and not long afterwards it was known to the brethren in Lantern Yard that Silas Marner had departed from the town.

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George Eliot uses flashback in Part 1 of Silas Marner. After learning that Marner is a weaver and that he is an outsider in the town of Raveloe, Eliot flashes back 15 years to Marner's time in the town of Lantern Yard. She develops his life there, and how his best friend turned on him. This flashback serves two primary purposes. 1) it gives important expositional information that helps move the plot forward, and 2) it gives psychological insight into Marner's current state. Both of these goals are enhanced by placing the information in a flashback. Knowing what Marner becomes makes the audience feel more deeply when Marner is betrayed. 

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