In Silas Marner, what is the general affect among females?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Lammeter sisters, Nancy and Priscilla are often compared to the Gunn sisters. For the big feast in Red House the women basically acted amongst themselves the way expected of women: They would stare at each other up and down, comment on each other's clothes, and pay the compliments of the day.

The story reads that, at the gathering:

There was hardly a bedroom in the house where feminine compliments were not passing and feminine toilettes going forward, in various stages, in space made scanty by extra beds spread upon the floor; and Miss Nancy, as she entered the Blue Room, had to make her little formal curtsy to a group of six. On the one hand, there were ladies no less important than the two Miss Gunns, the wine merchant's daughters from Lytherly, dressed in the height of fashion, with the tightest skirts and the shortest waists, and gazed at by Miss Ladbrook (of the Old Pastures) with a shyness not unsustained by inward criticism. Partly, Miss Ladbrook felt that her own skirt must be regarded as unduly lax by the Miss Gunns, and partly, that it was a pity the Miss Gunns did not show that judgment which she herself would show if she were in their place, by stopping a little on this side of the fashion. On the other hand, Mrs. Ladbrook was standing in skull-cap and front, with her turban in her hand, curtsying and smiling blandly and saying, "After you, ma'am," to another lady in similar circumstances, who had politely offered the precedence at the looking-glass.

So basically what you have here is that the women differentiate themselves by level of beauty, social status, order of precedence, and importance among the group. It is a combination of basic dyads (traveling in pairs) to collective intrapersonal relationships using the female talents of dress, charm, and position to relate to each other.