Summary of Silas Marner by George Eliot
Silas Marner, a weaver, is an eager and promising young member of a Puritan religious community, Lantern Yard. Marner's supposed best friend, Willam Dane, frames him for the theft of a pouch of coins. Marner suffers from cataleptic fits which leave him as insensible as stone and vulnerable to Dane's frame-up. The community of Lantern Yard draws lots to determine Marner's guilt or innocence in the crime. After the lots proclaim Marner guilty, he flees from Lantern Yard, utterly crushed, leaving behind his faith in God and in humankind.
Marner eventually settles at the outskirts of Raveloe, a provincial village in the English Midlands. The ...view middle of the document...
The next day, while Godfrey attends a dance with Nancy Lammeter, the love of his life, Dunstan will sell Wildfire at a hunt.
But Godfrey has bigger problems than making good on the embezzling debt. Some time before, he rashly married a barmaid named Molly Farrell, who lives in a town to the north. This woman over time has turned into a laudanum addict and an alcoholic. Godfrey is hopelessly miserable, because not only does he loathe his decision to marry Molly, he is also deprived of marrying Nancy. He thus spends his days drinking away his sorrows, seeing Nancy when he can and putting off his seemingly inevitable fall from grace.
Dunstan sells Wildfire. But Dunstan then uses Wildfire in the hunt, in the course of which he impales Wildfire on a hedge-stake, killing the horse. Dunstan hatches a scheme to collect his money anyway. He knows well the rumor that Silas Marner, the crazy weaver, has hidden in his cottage a large hoard. He decides to stop by the weaver's cottage and use his leverage to "borrow" Marner's gold.
The night is foggy and dark when Dunstan finally arrives at Marner's cottage. When Marner doesn't answer, Dunstan invites himself in. After a quick search he finds Marner's gold and flees with it.
Marner returns from a short trip into the village to find his gold missing. Devastated, he rushes into Raveloe for assistance and ends up at the Rainbow tavern, where the locals have gathered for pints and conversation. At first the villagers are terrified of Marner. But eventually his sincerity wins them over, and they form a posse to fetch the constable and search for clues.
After several weeks of searching, the only clue uncovered is a tinder-box, which the villagers recall as having belonged to a suspicious travelling pedlar whom no one can find. Marner is left without his gold, utterly miserable, yet having made some headway in connecting with village life. The villagers pity Marner now more than they fear him, and they even bring him gifts of solace.
Nobody thinks much of Dunstan Cass's absence. He has been known to run off before, and given that he killed Wildfire, nobody doubts that he has good reason to lay low. Godfrey is left with the unpleasant task of approaching his father about the embezzled money. The Squire is miffed, to be sure, but he ends up forgiving Godfrey, who thus maintains his status quo in misery.
The Christmas season arrives at Raveloe, and Marner is visited by Mrs. Dolly Winthrop, a conscientious and charitable soul, whose conversation gives him a little bit of Christmas cheer. But Marner is beyond cheering up. Godfrey Cass, meanwhile, abandons himself to his rotten fate and decides to make the most of the present. He attends the annual Red House ball, still wishing to marry Nancy.
At the same time Godfrey Cass's wife trudges through the snow towards Raveloe, carrying with her their two-year-old daughter. She plans to surprise Godfrey and everyone else, but on the way she is gripped by...