How does George Eliot set the novel Silas Marner in a background of Romanticism?
The influence of the great Romantic writers on George Eliot's Silas Marner is evident from the beginning, where she quotes from "Michael" by William Wordsworth, perhaps the archetypal Romanticist.
Silas Marner is concerned with a man misperceived by those around him: he is damned by one misunderstanding and redeemed only through his love for a child. This idea of the redemptive power of love, particularly in conjunction with childhood innocence, is key to the Romantic movement.
The other major element of Silas Marner that pays homage to Romanticism is its setting: pastoral, countryside settings are contrasted against darker cityscapes, with the weather and landscape playing almost their own characters within the story. Compare this to Wordsworth's preoccupation with the weather and his use of pathetic fallacy, and the influence of his writing upon Eliot can be clearly seen. These preoccupations can also be compared to the works of William Blake, particularly the focus upon religion and industrialization.
Wordsworth and the Romanticists, furthermore, had a belief in the power of ultimate truth, something that appears in Silas Marner in the form of subjectivism—an inward searching for truth and a garnering of support from that truth. Marner knows that he has been falsely accused, and he clings to this truth despite the fact that nobody else believes it.