Silas Marner

Silas Marner Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Compare differences in attitudes towards nature held by the characters of Silas Marner. Consider especially Eppie, Dunstan Cass, Godfrey Cass and Silas Marner.

  2. 2

    What functions do the intermitent scenes of village life (for instance the Rainbow scene in Chapter Six) serve in the novel?

  3. 3

    Consider the story of Mr. Cliff and the Warrens told by Mr. Macey in Chapter Six. How does that ghostly digression contribute to the novel as a whole? How does it fit into the structure of the novel?

  4. 4

    Consider the two Christian sects depicted in the novel: Lantern Yard's puritanism and Raveloe's anglicanism. What can infer about George Eliot's position with regard to Christianity from the novel?

  5. 5

    George Eliot is one of the most famous and well regarded women among novelists. How does Silas Marner engage issues of gender and feminism? Is she equally adept at representing the male and female characters in the novel?

  6. 6

    Silas Marner left Lantern Yard after having been wrongfully accused of stealing gold. He then turned to a life of hoarding gold. What is the logic in this progression?

  7. 7

    To the villagers, who is an outsider, and why? Consider Marner himself, the mysterious peasant, and the strange sound of Marner's loom. What is the attitude of the villagers toward these alien elements? What can we infer about Eliot's attitude toward the representation of outsiders?

  8. 8

    What is "luck" in Silas Marner? Who is lucky or unlucky? To what extent do luck and fate depend on Eliot's choices versus the natural unfolding of plot elements grounded in human nature?

  9. 9

    Lantern Yard frames the novel. What is the importance of Marner's return to Lantern Yard in Chapter 21?

  10. 10

    Marner is a weaver. Examine the importance of his trade in the novel. Where do we see his wares? For whom does he work? What is his relationship to his weaving? How does weaving symbolize broader themes and the work of Eliot as author?

  11. 11

    Several characters in Silas Marner seem to have a special relationship, allegorical or otherwise, with fiction and the process of storytelling. Consider Silas Marner, Dunstan Cass, Mr. Macey and other characters in this light. What is Eliot suggesting about fiction-making? Can we locate Eliot within Silas Marner?

  12. 12

    There is a clear pattern of light/dark imagery in Silas Marner. Perhaps more interesting then a simple contrast of light and dark, however, is the way Eliot manages to create ambiguity within each grouping. Consider Lantern Yard and Eppie as symbols of light. How are religion and self-knowledge entangled with light and darkness? Is light always a symbol of purity, truth and enlightenment in the novel?