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Relationship Betweeen The Individual And The Community

2417 words - 10 pages

How does George Eliot represent the relationship between the individual and community in Silas Marner?

George Eliot represents the relationship between the individual and the community in the novel Silas Marner (1861). Written in the Victorian era, Eliot sets this novel within the Regency era, early 19th century. This period was characterized by the influence of the French revolution, crowning of the Prince Regent after the confirmed insanity of King George III and rise of meritocracy opposed to aristocracy through service in the military. Eliot empathizes with the poorer people in rural areas and scrutinizes the Aristocracy seen through the gentry. She depicts the transformation of the ...view middle of the document...

” Through the use of repetition of “his own” Eliot conveys Silas’s self-sufficiency and isolation from any human interaction. His independent lifestyle conveys how his days are spent on eating, sleeping and working just like an insect. He has no obligation or responsibility for anyone other than himself, yet he lives so simply and humbly. His immediate needs are met and he is content with living in this structured and cyclical lifestyle. This is much like an insect as seen though the metaphor “along with the weaving, to reduce his life to the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect.” Eliot conveys Silas is busy with life by working systematically meeting his needs and weaving like a spider. Through the use of this metaphor Eliot gives us an insight to his private, small but significant life. Insects appear insignificant but play a big role in the environment keeping it balanced, this alludes to Silas’s importance in the community of Raveloe. He weaves his web drawing people in, like a spider catches bugs. Finally through the use of personification of hunger Eliot conveys how Silas reacts to his needs through the use of the word “call” and how it alludes to a child calling for food from its mother. This conveys Silas’s premature nature, in respect to his inability to relate to people to become part of the community. He is still in the learning stages of making relationships and becoming a member of society. The personification of “calls of hunger” also can relate to how an engine calls for fuel in a Regency era context. Silas, the weaver is seen as the beginnings of industrialization and how machines are replacing workers. Through Silas’s mechanical nature of eating, sleeping and working Eliot conveys his similarity to the nature of a machine. She foreshadows that Silas’s profession becomes irrelevant as weavers are replaced with machines during the industrial revolution. This is ironic as she also describes him as part of nature. This is contrasted with Silas later in the novel when his gold was stolen and has no option but to go to the community for help as he feels his life is dependent on it, this is shown in the lines “This strangely novel situation of opening his trouble to his Raveloe neighbors, of sitting in the warmth of a hearth not his own and feeling the presence of faces and voices which were his nearest promise of help, had doubtless its influence on Marner, in spite of his passionate preoccupation with his loss.” Through the use of reoccurrence of the “th” sound in the words “warmth” and “hearth” Eliot creates a comforting tone illustrating the softening of the community’s opinions of Silas to helping him solve the robbery as they feel sympathy for his misfortune. Through the robbery Silas begins to re-enter into society. This may be through dire circumstances but shows Silas’s softening perspective on humanity and towards the community. This is highly contrasted with the plosives in “passionate preoccupation” conveying...

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