What kind of place is the Rainbow Inn in Silas Marner?
The Rainbow Inn, a village inn and tavern, is the social center for both the more affluent residents of Raveloe as well as for others.
After he discovers that his gold is missing, Silas Marner rushes to this inn in the hope of locating those persons of authority who can assist him in swiftly searching for his lost treasure. In his mind Silas Marner views this local inn as a site where authorities and others of importance can be expeditiously reached.
...it was the place where he was likely to find the powers and dignities of Raveloe, and where he could most speedily make his loss public.
Unfortunately for Marner, when he reaches the inn, he learns that the parlor located on the left of the inn, which is usually reserved for the upper class of Raveloe, such as Squire Cass, is empty on this night because many of the usual occupants are in attendance at Mrs. Osgood's birthday dance.
The Rainbow Inn provides a contrast in the narrative since prior to Chapter VI, the action has been rather privatized. But, in the tavern, although there is social class division with its two rooms, there is also much socialization that takes place. When the residents gather, they exchange stories. So, when the reclusive Silas Marner stands in the warm light without speaking, everyone has the impression that they see a ghost rather than a real man.
For a few moments there is a deadly silence, Marner's want of breath and agitation not allowing him to speak. The landlord, under the habitual sense that he was bound to keep his house open to all company...at last took on himself the task of adjuring the ghost,
When the landlord asks Marner his business at the inn, Silas gasps out, "Robbed! I've been robbed!" Then the landlord has Marner sit and relate what has happened. So, for the first time, Silas Marner begins to interact with others. Now the name of the inn seems to presage a change for the good in Silas Marner.
We are told what kind of place the Rainbow Inn is at the end of Chapter Five, when Silas Marner decides to go there to inform others of the robbery that has resulted in the loss of his precious gold. Clearly, as the principal inn of Raveloe, it is the meeting place of a variety of people, as Marner reasons:
The Rainbow, in Marner's view, was a place of luxurious resort for rich and stout husbands, whose wives had superfluous stores of lines; it was the place where he was likely to find the powers and dignities of Raveloe, and where he could most speedily make his loss public.
Thus, The Rainbow Inn serves as a meeting place for the menfolk of Raveloe society. Normally, its clientèle consists of the higher end of society, as we are told that even Squire Cass frequented The Rainbow Inn, to enjoy "the double pleasure of conviviality and condescension." As such, therefore, it is a good place for Silas Marner to go to inform the appropriate powers of Raveloe about the robbery that has left him bereft.