Monday, 16 April 2012

Silas Marner

Date of Reading: 08/01/2007
Author: George Eliot
Subtitle: The Weaver of Raveloe
Publisher: Noble and Noble Publishers
Place: USA
Year: 1953

          Silas Marner, the weaver of Raveloe, leads a secluded life. His native place was Lantern Yard, where he was falsely accused of stealing the funds of the Calvinist congregation there. There is a strong suggestion that his friend William Dane has framed him; he leaves the place with a broken heart with no intention of communicating with any wretched human. All these fifteen years in Raveloe, he has done nothing but work from which he amassed some gold coins.
          Squire Cass is one of the major families in the village; Mr. Squire has two sons - Godfrey and Dunstan. Godfrey is in love with Miss. Nancy Lammenter though he has a wife and child in secret. Dunstan has made use of this fact to blackmail him frequently.
          A new light comes to Silas' life when his money is robbed by Dunstan and the thief is not found. In New Year's Eve, Godfrey's secret wife Molly travels to the Red House (Mr. Squire's house) to prove her relation with Godfrey; the heavy snow prevents this and she dies in front of Marner's house. Her little child crawls into his home; Silas takes her with the assistance of Mrs. Dolly Winthrop and christens her as Eppi. Godfrey is happy for his daughter and marries his sweetheart without any regrets.
         Sixteen years pass. Eppi is now an eighteen year old beauty and is engaged to Aaron, Mrs. Winthrop's son. Dunstan's dead body is found during the drainage of the fields still clutching the money of Silas. Godfrey's much longed marriage do not produce any children and he confesses his guilt to Nancy; together they decide to adopt Eppi. But Eppi chooses Silas over her biological father and the prosperity that is offered. 
          She and Marner visits his native village which to his dismay is been completely swept away and is replaced by a large factory. Novel ends with the marriage of Eppi and Aaron.

Rating: Very Good

          Though a little difficult to read, Mary Ann Evans has made this her most comforting novel. As Wordsworth says,
    "A child, more than all other gifts
     That earth can offer to declining man
     Brings hope with it, and forward looking
          Novel explores the issue of redemptive love and throughout the work she is careful to maintain a poetic justice. Although it seems like a simple moral story with a happy ending, the text includes several pointed criticisms of organised religion, the role of the gentry and negative impacts of the industrialisation.
          Silas may be the title character, but he is by and large a passive one, acted upon rather than acting on others. In a more wider sense, there is not much difference between him and Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot. All of them are waiting for something to change their lives; but for Silas, Godot comes at last.
          Novel has been the base for much theatre and film adaptations.
  • Ben Kingsley played Silas Marner in a 1985 BBC adaptation with Patsy Kensit as the grown-up Eppi.
  • The critically acclaimed 1954 Indian film 'Bangaru Papa', in Telungu, starring S.V.Ranga Rao and Krishna Kumari, is also based on award-winning short story writer Palagummi Padmaraju's loose adaptation of Silas Marner.
  • The novel was adapted as 'Sukhdas' in Hindi by the Indian writer Premchand.

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