In George Eliot's novel Silas Marner, Raveloe is a small village inhabited by families who had lived there for centuries and were naturally suspicious of outsiders. Eliot explains:
In that far-off time superstition clung easily round every person or thing that was at all unwonted, or even intermittent and occasional merely, like the visits of the pedlar or the knife-grinder. No one knew where wandering men had their homes or their origin; and how was a man to be explained unless you at least knew somebody who knew his father and mother?
Silas Marner himself adds to this general fear of the unknown by being a recluse. He only goes into the village to conduct business or do shopping. He doesn't make advances to local women or frequent the village pub and gossip with the men. Because he spends all of his time indoors weaving, he is very pale, and has bulging nearsighted eyes. Several superstitious rumors developed about him that Eliot reveals to us in the first few pages of the novel. The first rumor, similar to the folkloric belief in the "evil eye," is that he has some sort of magical powers, such as the ability to cure or harm people merely by looking at them. The second rumor, which is essential to the plot of the story, is that Silas Marnar has saved a large amount of money and hidden it somewhere around in his cottage. Unlike the belief that he might have some magical powers, the rumor concerning his hidden wealth could have been grounded in the obvious fact that he earned steady money from his weaving and spent very little of it.