In Silas Marner, what is the most important internal conflict presented in the beginning of the story?  One that affects Silas himself

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most important internal conflict Silas Marner faces at the beginning of the novel stems from several external conflicts.  First, consider the background story given in Chapter 1 about Silas' excommunication from the church and the subsequent denial of his faith.  He is framed in a crime he cannot remember committing and loses respect, his fiance, his sense of identity, and his faith all at once.

Add to this that Silas is a weaver in a farming town.  The life of the weaver as compared to that of one who works in the field is drastically different.  Those who work in the fields are strong, full of color, and common.  Silas is the only weaver in town.  His trade is one of skill, which sets him apart from others.  It also keeps him indoors.  He is therefore physically smaller, more pale, and somewhat hunched.  His profession alone makes him different and isolates him from others.

Silas is further scorned by the town after an incident with a sick woman for whom he provides a relieving tea (as his own mother once drank).  When the tea does provide some comfort, the town immediately believe Silas to have healing powers and begin bringing him their sick and hurt.  He sends them all away and they procede to blame him for all the bad things that happen to them.  This isolates Silas even further.

Each of these external conflicts combine at the very beginning of the story to create Silas' biggest internal conflict: he is isolated, lonely (though he'd never admit it), and miserly.  He worships his money, which is the only thing in his life he loves.