Discuss the importance of Eppie in Silas Marner's life in George Eliot's novel Silas Marner.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When Eppie comes into his life, Silas Marner is saved from total despair and given purpose to his life.

Before the pretty little Eppie crawled into his dismal cottage, Silas Marner was a man who had lost all motivation to live. For, it was his gold that Silas cherished above all else because he divorced himself from the human race after he was denounced by friends and loved ones in Lantern Yard.

The livelong day he sat in his loom, his ear filled with its monotony, his eyes bent close down on the slow growth of sameness in the brownish web....But at night came his revelry: at night he closed his shutters, and made fast his doors, and drew out his gold....He loved the guineas best, but he would not change the silver....

After Marner loses his money, there is a sympathy that grows for the weaver. Then, after he discovers the golden-haired babe in his cottage,“the gold had turned into the child,” and Silas vows to care for her as his own. Having done this, he finds that there is a "softening of feeling" towards him by the residents of Raveloe, especially among the women. Dolly Winthrop, a neighbor, visits Silas and tells him she has everything he needs for the child.

Marner took her on his lap, trembling with an emotion mysterious to himself, at something unknown dawning on his life.

Without doubt, Silas Marner is spiritually renewed through the reawakening of human love and fellowship with his neighbors and townspeople. He names the beautiful child Hephzibah for his mother and sister, but the baby only learns to say Eppie, so this nickname stays. After a time, Marner becomes a true member of the community and is rewarded for his love when Eppie refuses to go with her natural father, Godfrey Cass, who eventually comes for her. Instead, she remains with Silas, and even after she marries Aaron Winthrop, Eppie cares for the aging weaver, whose life is worth far more than any cache of gold because it is filled with love.

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