The great virtue of this novel is the portrayal of the community in Raveloe Essay Sample
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The great virtue of this novel is the portrayal of the community in Raveloe Essay Sample
Silas Marner by George Eliot was first published in 1861 during the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution, as the transformation came to be called, caused a sustained rise in real income per person in England and, as its effects spread, the rest of the Western world. Historians agree that the industrial revolution was one of the most important events in history, marking the rapid transition to the modern age, but they disagree vehemently about various aspects of the event.
The Industrial Revolution reshaped the urban environment, not least by concentrating workers in the new industrial towns and suburbs linked and supplied by railways. The industrial revolution meant the poor could find jobs especially in big cities such as London and Manchester. It also took trade from small companies or people. The picture of Gin Lane shows the distress of working in the industrialized towns and cities. The picture emphasizes the massive difference between town and country life and how many people where unhappy working and living in this environment.
The village hierarchy was based upon distinct social roles and responsibilities. Dunsey was known throughout the village to be a good man who never did anything wrong, although some of the village folk did have there doubts. This was the general presumption among the village folk because of his social role. Yet the Dunsey did do things wrong but was not at all suspected by the village folk of stealing Silas’s money because of his position as the Squire Casses son. Dunsey thought because he had all the money in the world he could do anything he wanted, but yet he could not find happiness or love, apart from the love of drinking.
The village of Raveloe was still a very quaint setting at the start of the book; nobody needed to work to hard to make a comfortable living. But, by the end of the book the effects of the industrialization was starting to show. Silas found himself with little work and the village life that the reader was familiar with was rapidly disappearing. Raveloe is described by Eliot as a village that lies ” in the central rich plain that we are pleased to called merry England.
The village exists in a timeless past where traditions have been unchanged for centuries and the people in Raveloe still have a strong sense of community where every knows each other and cares for each other which is very different from nowadays. Eliot read and admired Wordsworth’s work throughout her life. Wordsworth was a poet who wrote about the connection between man and nature, Eliot found herself in agreement with many of his ideas. Wordsworth believed that village life had much to teach the new city dwellers.
He also believed that children where the most precious thing you could have and children could help heal the past. This is exactly why Eliot used Eppie in Silas Marner- so Eppie could help heal Silas’s past. It also made Silas realize that love is much greater than any amount of money, which I found, was the main moral of the story. Love also made Silas happier. The famous Wordsworthian quote is, ‘ the child is a father of the man’, meaning the past makes us what we are in the present; and the past and present establish our future. Again, the parallels with Silas are again evident.
Eppie arrives and gives Silas a purpose once again. Also, Silas starts to trust mankind again and begins to become part of the Raveloe community. Eliot uses the format of the moral fable to show that good can come out of a situation which, had events or characters changed or been altered may not of happened at all and Silas may not of found a purpose to live once again. The novel Eliot wrote is of the genre named ‘pastoral fiction’ this means it is a book based on country life. The setting of Silas Marner was as unusual and dissimilar to the readers in 1861 as it is for us in the 21st century.
Many people in 1861 like now would not of experienced village life. The book has a timeless quality where traditions in the village where kept the same for centuries because no other people came in to the village with new ideas or influences. Eliot does a good job in showing the reader that village life is special. There is always a sense of trust, kindness and forgiveness in the village and neighborly love is shown to be more important than materialism. The quote from William Cowper, ‘god made the country, man made the town’ is the whole basis of the setting of the novel.
It explains how nothing can be compared to the countryside such as city life or industrialized towns. Also that nobody can build something so special and beautiful. It also shows how human values were modeled by the village folk and their simple way of life especially when compared to town life. The setting of this book are deliberate, Eliot uses the settings to parallel with the feelings of Silas. In lantern yard which was an industrialized city Silas found himself losing all faith in human life and mankind he had also been subjected to false accusations and wrongful judgment.
This gives the reader the view that Lantern Yard is bleak- where nobody can trust each other and there is no community spirit even though many people could have been happy in Lantern Yard. In Raveloe Silas regains his trust in human life and man kind and he gradually becomes part of a community, giving the reader the impression that Raveloe is fantastic where everybody gets on with each other and nobody does much wrong. Though we know this is untrue. If we use Dunsey as an example we can see that not everybody in Raveloe is excellent and polite. Dunsey was selfish and unkind and didn’t have any respect for anyone else apart from himself.
Eliot is trying to contrast town and village life. Raveloe was modeled as the place where she grew up, she had very strong feelings about the contrast between town and village life and helped the reader get a real sense of community life like she did when she was a child. She also wanted to educate people about the dehumanizing affects industrialization had on the towns and cities in Great Britain and the effect it had on independent workers such as Silas. Eliot describes Raveloe as a place pf unspoilt beauty. It is a rural village in the ‘rich central plain’ of England.
In the first three chapters Eliot describes Raveloe as a ‘village where many of the old echoes lingered, undrowned by new voices. ‘ This means that traditions haven’t changed for centuries. Raveloe is in a timeless trance, where nobody has come into the village with new influences or ideas that would change the way of life in Raveloe. Raveloe ‘was never reached by the vibrations of the coach-horn or of the public opinion’ Eliot mentions this to emphasize to the reader that Raveloe hadn’t been touched by the industrial revolution and nobody ever came to the village.
Raveloe was hidden in the ‘snug well-wooded hollow’ that nobody apart from the community in Raveloe had visited. I view Raveloe as a place that is tranquil, and picturesque that was in the hands of god and was untouched by everything apart from the community of Raveloe and nature. I think this is why the community of Raveloe did not like Silas at first. The community in Raveloe didn’t like change, as they’d never experience much change in the village. It was hard for them to accept a new person to the community- especially when he was so weird and eerie.
Although the villagers are described in the book as welcoming, when somebody like Silas arrives in your community it is understandable why it was hard for the community to welcome him. The community led simple, happy and self-sufficient lives. Where mainly everybody gets on with each other and everybody helps each other in there different times of need. They are also house proud and close knit-which is important in a village such as Raveloe because everybody lives all of there life so it would be a difficult if you didn’t get on with some of the people in the village.
Also, for a community to have a good village everybody helps each other out, they could not of done this if one of the community members disliked other members- so it was important in a community such as Raveloe that everybody tried to get on with each other. The Rainbow pub was the heart of the entire village where all were welcome. Eliot uses the Rainbow Pub as a symbol of spirit of the country life, which Eliot emphasizes greatly. I think when Silas came to the Rainbow to report the robbery he started to regain trust in mankind and started to believe that not everyone in the world was evil and dishonest.
The lower class member of the community visited the Rainbow pub. The place visited by the upper class members of the community was The Red House. Both sections of the community were welcomed in each meting point. A particularly good example of this is in chapter eleven. It is New Years Eve the members of the upper class go to the New Years Eve dance at the Red House. Here, Eliot is providing a picture of what life was like living as part of the Upper Class section of the community. It also shows us that a sense of community spirit is frequently enjoyed.
The pace of life in Raveloe is very relaxed, we can see in chapter twenty-one that Eppie and Silas are prepared for there journey to Lantern Yard. They are prepared for the journey to take many days and are not seen to be in any sort of hurry. It is a slow paced life, a ‘region of carriers’ carts and slow wagons’. Eliot portrays the villagers as been very superstitious especially about Silas in the second chapter. ‘he invited no comer to step across the door-sill, and he never strolled in to the villageto drink a pint at the Rainbow’.
They are suspicious because Silas is different and his industrial skills and herbal treatments are not known to any of the villagers- therefore they find this suspicious. Silas is seen to the community in Raveloe as an alien- he sees them in the same way. Silas was a weird man ‘who came from nobody knew where’, this is why the community found him hard to accept. His herbal healing, which is described as Silas’s ‘stuff’, became the whole communities talking point when Silas cured Sally Oates.
Silas could have become part of the community but decided not too as he had still lost all trust in mankind. Silas found himself and his cottage suddenly beset by the mothers who wanted him to charm away the whooping,’ here I think Eliot is trying to emphasize to the reader that you cant judge a book by its cover, or, don’t judge somebody until you get to know them. The community of Raveloe suddenly like Silas, although they are still curious, they believe Silas is a better man because he can cure illnesses. Religion features a lot in this book especially when Silas begins to restore his faith in mankind.
His restoration in mankind and his restoration in believing in god parallel each other, as Silas restores his faith in mankind he also restores his faith in god. This especially becomes evident when Silas takes Eppie to be christened this is when the reader definitely realizes that Silas has restored his faith in both mankind and god. At Lantern Yard Silas had complete faith in god, when he lost his faith the community in Raveloe found it hard to understand why Silas lost his faith in god. The same way Silas found it hard to understand Dollies religion. The Squire Cass abuses his position as Squire thinks he can do whatever he likes.
He gets whatever he likes too with all the money he has. The community in Raveloe does not question the Squires behavior or how he has brought up his sons. The Squire Cass represents the worst example of English Gentry. The Squire Cass swigs beer, belches down his red meat and tells crude jokes. I think the community is scared of challenging his hereditary right because of what might happen to them if they do. The Squire Cass’s attitude has also been passed on to his two sons as both of them abuses there position especially Dunstan who stole Silas’s money.
The upper class seem to think they have the right to seize other peoples property, e. . Dunstan justifies stealing Silas’s money and Godfrey thinks he can take Eppie even thought he hasn’t talked or thought about her in the past sixteen years. However, Nancy Lammeter and her family are well respected for the good things that they do-this is a good example of English Gentry. Even the men at the Rainbow speak kindly of the Lammeter family. When Silas first arrived in Raveloe he was a broken and mixed up man who had lost all faith in mankind and god. He lived on the outskirts of the village and deliberately cut himself off from the outside world and from the kind village community.
Eppie and his restoration in god help him trust mankind again and become the man he was before his problems at Lantern Yard. Eppie-Eppie is the least developed of the major characters. We do know that she is a model daughter. She has a fondness of nature and animals, which shows us some of her affection. She is the backbone to restoring Silas back to his normal self; this is one of the main functions of her character. She has tremendous affection towards Silas this is show when she refuses to leave Silas. She understands and thinks intelligently about the whole fiasco about Godfrey and herself.
Nancy Lammeter- Nancy is presented as a model nineteenth-century housewife who is in held high esteem by the people of Raveloe. Even thought she has had little education she speaks with a regional accent. She has hands that show she does housework and makes butter. She has a strict moral code and will not have anything to do with Godfrey unless he reforms. She is at her very best when Godfrey reveals that Eppie is his daughter. She does show some understanding that transcends her narrow principles. Her only real feeling is felling of regret- that she didn’t know about Eppie sooner. The town of Lantern Yard is grim and bleak. O, what a dark ugly place. ”
This is how Eppie describes Lantern Yard; this helps the reader get a real insight of what city life is like and how disgraceful and appalling industrialized town life is. The towns’ people are part of the capitalist industrialization of the work force. There is a spirit of competitiveness and individualism. No man made complete item is made from one man. Men are just part of a long chain that make a product. Where everybody competes against there fellow workers and industrialization has not only alienated man from the traditional way of life but also from his fellow man.
Lantern Yard is a place where machine rules man and there is destruction of sense of order and hierarchy. Eppie encounters alienation of traditional life and alienation of man from man when she visits Lantern Yard and is greeted by ‘noise’, ‘movement’ and the ‘multitude of strange indifferent faces’. Silas is stressed by his complete inability to recognize any forms of life or community spirit. Competitiveness existed and was so important that people would put their work before there friends. Whereas in Raveloe nobody in the community would even dream of doing a thing like that, the community in Raveloe all gave mutual help.
In Lantern Yard there was also the middleman involved in most situations- this was part of the reason why there was no community spirit and everybody fended for his or her selves. Religion in the town was something everybody a heard to if they didn’t they feared they would be punished by god. People in the town feared god the only reason everybody believed in him was fear of him. Religion was followed perfectly and was almost an fanatical duty by the towns people because they didn’t know otherwise that god did not punish them if they did not follow him.
The town pace was very fast. The town was always changing and it was impossible to find stability and happiness. When revisiting Lantern Yard Silas and Eppie find Lantern Yard has completely changed. Quite different to Raveloe’s landscape. Eppie says, “he isn’t in a hurry like the rest,” which sums up the pace in Lantern Yard. The end result for when Silas lived in the town it destroyed his life. It also destroyed his human trust, devotion and kindness to the people around him.
Eliot is at pains to stress that the urban industrial worker, like Silas, is deprived of his rightful inheritance, an inheritance that the village people still possess. The novel has a omnipresent voice this is to help the reader understand what is going on especially in the first and second chapters where the reader doesn’t really know what is going on. This was especially helpful for a younger reader, as the text is quite difficult. The omnipresent voice also help the modern audience because it explains that some of the thing we might not seem as important actually were in those days.
E. g. church going, this to the modern audience isn’t seen to be as much as a sin, but to the nineteenth and twentieth century reader this would have been noted as a much more important duty, therefore making this part of the book more dramatic for them. The omnipresent voice also gives us a insight into the heads of the characters which is good because it make the reader much more interested in the book as they know much more about the character in the book than the people in the book do which make them feel special.
The narrator adopts the role of social commentator, analyzing the slowly evolving customs of village life and observing patterns of village life. Eliot feels very strongly about village life and the industrial revolution and comments on the destroying effects of the industrial revolution. Eliot uses Silas as a prime example of the effects of the industrial revolution and what it can do to man. The industrial revolution was a place in time where values could be admired and from where a moral story could be told.
I think Raveloe was a beautiful place and the community was very close knit, where everybody fought for each other and there was stability and happiness. The town had an appealing slow pace where nobody had to work to hard to make a living and there religion was not to fanatical or puritanical. The community setting or Raveloe provides a framework from which a fairy tale can be explored. There are parallels between town and country life and between faith and humanity, and also between Godfrey and Silas.
All of which provide an interesting structure for the story. The village is in a timeless past but still manages to show a changing world, the Victorians had a longing for the old but an unstoppable force drove them towards the new. Our society does have a parallel- a parallel the same as the Victorians we are longing for the old but an unstoppable force is driving us further and further in to the new. E. g. – computers we are quite happy with the standard of technology but yet there are always people who are greedy and want more.
In a way this is good because nothing would even change if we didn’t have people who want to strive further, is there a time when we are going to know too much- is that time now? All these are questions that are always asked. There is still Parallels between town and village live and these are evident, like Raveloe the people in villages are very close knit, while the people in industrialized towns, although many people do now get along with each other there is still an element of Lantern Yard in the industrialized towns and cities today.
I think Lantern Yard is a Microcosm for the industrialized towns and cities today. Although the towns and cities are not half as bad as there were in Lantern Yard you can still see a similarity in the two. Industrialized towns are still grim looking and there is still an element of competitiveness but the machines rules man and the Puritan evangelicalism has not completely gone but is not as obvious in today’s industrialized towns and cities. I think the moral of this novel is to show that no amount of money can ever replace love or happiness.
I think this is completely true you can have all the money in the world but still not be happy. I think money makes you selfish and self-centered. This glorifies the past village life because they did not have much money but they all loved one another and they were happier than the Squires family, who had all the money in the world which just proves my point. We can relate it to Elvis Presley – he had all the money in the world yet he wasn’t happy and took a drugs overdose and died.