What is the significance of the epigraph of the novel Silas Marner by George Eliot?

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The epigraph at the beginning of Silas Marner, written by Wordsworth, reads as follows:

A child, more than all other gifts

That earth can offer to declining man,

Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts.

The significance of this epigraph is that Silas Marner, who has long loved his gold, finds more figurative gold in the form of the child he finds in the snow and names Eppie. Silas has always been an outcast, and having Eppie allows him to relate to other people: "Hitherto he had been treated very much as if he were a useful gnome or brownie. . . but now Silas met with open smiling faces and cheerful questioning" (110). Eppie, his child, is the lifeline that fate throws to Silas when his fate seems darkest. He devotes himself to Eppie, who causes him to find the rejuvenation and happiness that pursuing gold never gave to him. Instead of concentrating on his lost gold, Silas devotes his life to looking forward to Eppie's bright future. In the end,...

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