"The reason we are seldom able to comfort our neighbours with our words is, that our goodwill gets adulterated by our lips." Is this quote from Silas Marner true?
This is an example of authorial intrusion, where Eliot makes an observation of mankind in general. Describe what Eliot means here. Do you agree with this observation?
This quote comes from Chapter 10, which is the chapter that describes how the villagers in Raveloe react to Silas now that he has had his gold stolen. The chapter explores the way that people seek to be kind to Silas, but actually the words that they use to express this supposed kindness do not acually help or encourage Silas at all. The quote Eliot uses to describe this process argues that in spite of the goodwill that lies at the heart of such endeavours, the process of translating that goodwill into speech automatically means that the words used to capture that goodwill fall short of the original goodwill intented. Just after this quote, Eliot goes on to explain this further:
We can send black puddings and pettitoes without giving them a flavour of our own egoism; but language is a stream that is almost sure to smack of a mingled soil. There was a fair proportion of kindness in Raveloe, but it was often of a beery and bungling sort, and took the shape least allied to the complimentary and the hypocritical.
To support her words, Eliot uses the example of Mr Macey, who tries to encourage Silas, but only ends up making Silas Marner feel worse with his words. Eliot perhaps is quiet realistic in making this observation, but it would be pleasant to think that genuine kindness can be expressed in words, no matter how often those words can be tainted by the natural erroneous nature of humans. The quote seems to suggest that emotions cannot be conveyed simply and purely without mistakes, and this is something that may be true partially, but not totally.