a reference to the Napoleonic Wars, 1799-1815, which places the setting of Part One in the early nineteenth century
acute or clever
assizes, that is, meetings of a county's most important court, held several times a year
anthem, a hymn of praise (in this case reserved for Christmas worship)
the state of being behind in payments
assurance of salvation
a condition of being sure about one's religious salvation, especially among Calvinists who are of the "elect" (the people chosen by God for salvation)
a set of Christian beliefs, commonly accepted today, written by Athanasius as a refutation of heresy
a structure containing a large oven for general use
boxes filled with items necessary for a dance, tied with a band
beauty born of murmuring sound
a line from Wordsworth's "Three Years She Grew"
baptized, which includes being named (in Marner's religion adults, not infants, were baptized, given adherence to believers' baptism)
city of destruction
a city such as Sodom or Gomorrah, which God destroys in the Old Testament due to the wickedness of their townspeople. Angels guided Sodom's only virtuous inhabitants, Lot and his family, out of the city just in time.
clung to, was faithful to
clue; also a ball of thread or yarn
French, to conspire, as in "collusion"
conversations, esp. formal ones
to make "coaly," that is, black as coal
Commission of the Peace
a legal body overseeing justices of the peace
lust, esp. for wealth
the local school, usually run by women
David and Jonathan
two men who shared a devoted friendship in the Bible. Jonathan was the son of King Saul, and David was the future king. See 1 Samuel 18.
seize property as settlement for a debt
drawing o' lots in the Bible
The drawing of lots occurs several times in the Old Testament as a way to discern God's will in a decision.
administering of medicine
an ailment characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the body
Priscilla's facetious term for earrings
legal restriction over the inheritance of property
a brief, witty, often paradoxical statement
companions; also, witches' animal totems, like the black cat
a reference to a story in the Contes des Fees, by Mme. Leprince de Beaumont (1785)
one who shoes and doctors horses
superstitious worship or belief in an object, such as the hearth
a spiny shrub
coarse, sturdy cloth of cotton and flax
gods of the hearth
In ancient religions, especially that of Ancient Rome, every home was said to have a protective deity centered on the hearth.
a hackney, that is, a light English saddle-horse
a row of vegetation held in place by stakes
large barrels or casks
a lively dance
post for tying horses
abbreviation of Latin words referring to Jesus as savior of humans
skewers on which to rotate meat
a long riding coat
The famous ninth-century King of England who drove out the Vikings
George III, 1760-1820
knots in the hands
a liquid form of opium
leeching and poulticing
applying leeches or poultices to the unwell, in common medical practice before the 20th century
enlisting as a common soldier (rather than paying an officer's commission)
A multi-volume Bible, with commentary, published in 1816 (which places Part Two of the novel after the Neapolitan Wars).
a gangly woman, with lower-class connotations
a church holiday, held on September 29, celebrating the archangel Michael
made miserable, misused
Latin for "I don't want to be a bishop." Said as a ceremonial display of humility by those about to be ordained as bishops.
rural nickname for the devil
a person in charge of horses, a stableman
fortification constructed for defense (in this case, Mrs. Winthrop)
pig's feet prepared as food
tax levied for the poor
frugal, attending to the future
putting the haft for the handle
akin to "putting the cart before the horse"
one who pays property taxes
parish minister's house
a deforming bone disease usually found in children
ride to cover
ride to the area where a hunt is to take place
ringing the pigs
fitting rings into pigs' snouts, which makes it painful for them to root
prick with many incisions
piece of lean body meat
Sir Roger de Coverley
a lively tune that marks the beginning of a dance
long, loose outer garments
speaking well of, behaving well towards
"something warm," that is, liquor, which makes one feel warm
loose-fitting white robe worn by clergy
sword hanging over him
a reference to the sword of Damocles, which hung over Damocles' head by a single hair while he feasted to remind him of the fragility of power
in weaving, the whole of a piece of work
a thrush (also a machine used to spin fibers, like a loom)
a metal box for keeping flammable materials dry
shipped to a penal colony
veneer of wood paneling applied to the walls of a room
a card game like bridge
dialect for herbs
Silas Marner Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Silas Marner is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
What was he to do this evening to pass the time? He might as well go to the Rainbow and hear the talk about the cock-ﬁghting; everybody was there, and what else was there to be done? Though, for his own part, he did not care a button...
Marner is a solitary, nearsighted, crooked man with massive brown eyes and a simple pale face who works "in a stone cottage that stood among the nutty hedgerows near the village of Raveloe, and not far from the edge of a deserted stone-pit." He...
At the Rainbow tavern, while the personages of Raveloe attend Mrs. Osgood's dance, some of the less lofty villagers drink and talk. Among these is the landlord, Mr. Snell, whose outlook on most matters is neutral, and whose position in most...