full title Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe
author George Eliot
type of work Novel
genre Victorian novel, novel of manners, pastoral fiction
time and place written 1860–61, London
date of first publication 1861
publisher William Blackwood and Sons
narrator An anonymous omniscient speaker with no part in the plot
point of view The narrator speaks in the omniscient third person, describing what the characters are seeing, feeling, and thinking and what they are failing to see, feel, and think. The narrator uses the first person singular “I,” but at no point enters the story as a character. Near the beginning, a personal story unrelated to the action of the novel is relayed to provide corroborating evidence for a generalization, hinting that the narrator is a real person.
tone Morally uncompromising, slightly condescending, but nevertheless deeply sympathetic to characters’ failings
setting (time) The “early years” of the nineteenth century
setting (place) Raveloe, a fictional village in the English countryside
protagonist Silas Marner
major conflict Silas Marner lives for a long time without any connection to other human beings or his youthful faith in God. Though he does not struggle to find purpose and connection in his life, the novel is about his recovery of purpose, faith, and community through his finding Eppie.
rising action Silas spends fifteen years in relative isolation, amassing a hoard of gold coins that is then stolen by Dunstan Cass.
climax Eppie appears in Silas’s cottage, and he decides to adopt her.
falling action When Godfrey fails to claim Eppie as his daughter and marries Nancy, Silas raises Eppie. Silas’s love and care for Eppie make him a revered member of the Raveloe community, ending his isolation. Sixteen years later, Godfrey admits that he is Eppie’s father and tries to adopt her, but she elects to stay with Silas.
themes The individual versus the community; character as destiny; the interdependence of faith and community
motifs The natural world; domesticity; class
symbols Silas’s loom; Lantern Yard; the hearth
foreshadowing Silas opening his door to look outside as Eppie toddles toward his cottage; Mr. Macey telling Silas his money will be returned to him; Dunsey claiming that he always lands on his feet.