George Elliot’s presentation of the community and the outsider
In George Elliot’s Silas Marner, the major theme of the novel is set right from the first chapter. The theme of how an outsider is out casted by the community. In this context, how Silas is viewed through the cynical, narrow minded eyes of the villagers. Elliot uses strong language that assists us in comprehending the social norms during the Victorian era.
Firstly commenting on Elliot’s language; Elliot uses a strong descriptive and comparative language that defines a weaver. “certain pallid, undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race” ; “ The shepherds dog barked fiercely…. For what dog likes a figure bent under a heavy bag” With these quotes, the readers picture a portrait of a hideous, unaccepted alien. The words used to describe the weaver through the first few pages ; The evil one, vagueness, mystery, unfamiliar, suspicious and alien, to mention a few; These were characteristics strongly disapproved of in the Victorian era. If any individual had greater knowledge than the community he/she was regarded as the devil’s incarnation. To Point out a linguistic aspect in the first chapter would be irony. Despite Silas being the protagonist, his posture is described negatively (which is rather unusual in fable contexts). This was a clever use of irony by Elliot, not only did she look through the eyes of the community on Silas, yet she also managed to create the emotion of sympathy in the readers minds for Silas Marner.
The story of Silas Marner, could at times be compared to a fairy tale. Weavers in the history of fairy tales have always had a negative impact on the story. Such as the famous classic Sleeping beauty, the antagonist was the witch, and also a weaver. Therefore Elliot’s reason of characterization of Silas Marner was to create the sense of sympathy for an outsider. In fact it could be the way George Elliot was treated...