George Eliot's novel Silas Marneris a somewhat sad tale of a lonely man and a pair of brothers who share some dark secrets, yet Eliot interweaves both irony and humor into the story. Let's look at some examples of both.
The irony in this novel is largely situational....
George Eliot's novel Silas Marner is a somewhat sad tale of a lonely man and a pair of brothers who share some dark secrets, yet Eliot interweaves both irony and humor into the story. Let's look at some examples of both.
The irony in this novel is largely situational. Events lead to unexpected outcomes. For instance, the young ladies of Raveloe are thrilled when the bachelor Silas Marner moves into their midst. But Silas pays them no notice, and the ladies are annoyed and insulted. They soon declare that they would not ever marry him. Herein lies the irony. These ladies who were once so excited do not get what they expect, so they change their opinions to match their disappointment, convincing themselves that they don't want this dull man at all.
Other ironies appear as Silas cures a local woman through his knowledge of herbs and is accused of being a witch doctor. In another instance, the sons of the wealthiest family in town deal with the reality of debt. There is also significant irony in the fact that Silas becomes the victim of a crime he was once falsely accused of, namely, stealing. Dunstan steals Silas's beloved gold, yet later Silas obtains something much more precious than gold—his adopted daughter Eppie—and he gets his gold back, too. Ironically, it never left his own property. The dead Dunstan and the gold are both discovered in the pit behind Silas's cottage.
Much of the story's humor lies in its irony. We cannot help but chuckle, for instance, at the actions of the young ladies or even at Silas's cured miserliness. Eliot also includes humorous instances as when the Raveloe folks debate their constable situation or as the young Eppie carries out all kinds of mischief, including trying to use her own little boot as a water bucket.