Silas Marner

About the society

Is there a difference between superstition and religion in the novel..?

If so , what is the difference..?

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Many critics of the novel fault its unrealistic situations and conclusions. They point out that Marner's conversion from a miserable old misanthrope to a loving father happens too quickly, and they argue that the end of the novel has too much poetic justice, with every character getting a just reward. These critics hold the novel to a standard of realism that others see as inappropriate to Eliot's goals in Silas Marner. Defenders of the novel argue that is is more like a fable, operating through the moral logic of a fairy tale in order to accomplish goals beyond merely representing reality. In fables, ballads, myths and fairy tales, sudden transformations, inexplicable coincidences and other such unrealistic plot devices are part of the magic. Novels need not read like documentaries. Silas Marner is a work of fantasy as much as it represents a deeper reality.

While the plot reflects the novel's mythic character, there is also explicit reference to myth and legend throughout the novel. Weaving itself is a classic emblem of myths across cultures (see the Mythology and Weavingweb site). Certainly Eliot was well aware of this emblem when she chose her protagonist and the activity of weaving.

The story also has a strong Biblical undercurrent, recalling especially the stories of Job, King David, the expulsion from Eden, and Cain and Abel. And the author of Silas Marner expects readers to understand its many references to ancient mythology including the Fates and Arachne (a weaver transformed into a spider--note the profusion of insect imagery describing Marner). The hearth, where Eppie is suddenly found, is an especially powerful image in Roman myth.

Myth and superstition are active patterns in the village. Mr. Macey tells ghost stories about the Warrens and predicts the future. The villagers look with curiosity on wanderers such as Marner, perceiving that such persons belong to a separate, magical race with powers to heal or harm. These patterns contribute to the folkloric character of the work. Even while Silas Marnersatirizes the superstitions of the villagers and offers a fairly realistic explanation for every "miracle" in it, the novel engages the mysteries of fate and love that characterize legendary literature.