Discuss the significance of the novel’s epigraph
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The epigraph sets the tone and context of the story; it gives us clues to the themes that will be present within the text. The novel opens with a discussion of the superstitious attitude of provincial English peasants toward the "wandering" tradesmen at the fringes of their society. Such outsiders include weavers. Eliot suggests that villagers in nineteenth-century England prefer simple, direct experience to the mysterious histories and abilities of weavers. Because such men are generally distrusted by rustic society, they have tended to become "aliens": eccentric, disagreeable, lonesome and mysterious. One such weaver-indeed, the pinnacle of such weavers-is Silas Marner.The first chapter of Silas Marner puts into play many of the thematic elements that Eliot develops throughout the novel. First among these is the bearing that Marner's profession as a weaver has on his life, both in the narrative and as allegory.