What are three instances of humor in Silas Marner?
Eliot's use of humor in Silas Marner is connected to her keen sense of place and characterization. Silas Marner is set in a simpler time; the story of Silas's stolen gold and his eventual redemption through love has a distinct fairytale quality to it. Much of the humor has to do with Eliot's tongue-in-cheek portrayal of village life and the simple nature of the villagers.
Eppie's adventure into the fields, along with Silas's mission to find her, is comic. Eppie herself is a kind of comic foil for Silas, who in some respects is a child himself. Silas's decision to "punish" Eppie is funny because we are meant to laugh at Silas's naivete and because Eppie, though a toddler, always gets the best of Silas. She actually enjoys her punishment of being put in the coal hole!
Another comic episode occurs after Silas has discovered that his gold has been stolen in the ridiculous debate that happens among the men about who among them should go to fetch the constable and how that act would in effect make them a "deputy constable." Here, the humor has to do with the backwardness of the men. When the farrier nominates himself to go, he is met with opposition from Mr. Macey, who asserts that doctors can't be constables and that, as someone who looks after horses, the farrier is a kind of doctor!
A third humorous moment occurs at the Rainbow Inn when the existence of ghosts is debated. Eliot's treatment of this argument is of a piece with her depiction of the locals as simple, colorful characters. The landlord's argument, for instance, that seeing ghosts is like smelling cheese—the fact that his wife can't smell cheese doesn't mean that there is no cheese—is given in a serious tone that makes it all the more funny.