It has been said that Silas Marner's tragedy and redemption is caused as much by the ignorance and superstition of the societies of Lantern Yard and Raveloe as by the greed and dishonesty of William Dane and Dunstan Cass.

Do you think this is true?.

It has been said that Silas Marner's tragedy and redemption is caused as much by the ignorance and superstition of the societies of Lantern Yard and Raveloe as by the greed and dishonesty of William Dane and Dunstan Cass. Do you think this is true?

Chapter 1

The mistrust of strangers in places like Raveloe ;

"In that far-off time superstition clung easily round every person that was at all unwonted, or even intermittent and occasional merely, like the visits of the pedlar or the knife grinder .... how was a man to be explained unless you at least knew somebody who knew his father and mother?"

The mistrust of skilled artisans in general -

"all cleverness ... in some other art unfamiliar to villagers, was in itself suspicious"

- and weavers in particular - "alien looking men" . "The shepherd ...was not quite sure that this trade of weaving , indispensable as it was, could be carried on entirely without the help of the evil one"

Raveloe as a place caught in the past:

"Raveloe was a village where many of the old echoes lingered, undrowned by new voices."

Add to this Silas's slightly odd appearance, his occasional cataleptic attacks, in which he goes into a sort of frozen trance and his awareness of herbal remedies, learnt from his mother, and the ideal conditions for the superstitious shunning of Silas are formed.

Lantern Yard is described as "a narrow religious sect." These people shun science and rational explanations as a rejection of the spiritual side of life:

"To have sought a medical explanation for this phenomenon (his fits) would have been held ... as ... a wilful self exclusion from the spiritual significance that might lie therein."

They consider it spiritual to remain ignorant.

The Lantern Yard Christians do not believe in following the normal courses of law but in "praying and drawing lots" to establish whether or not Silas is guilty of the theft of which he is accused. They expect God to intervene so that the truth is known. When the lots declare Silas to be guilty, which he is not, Silas loses his faith and announces

"there is no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies, that bears witness against the innocent."

This superstition allows William Dane to get away with committing the robbery, framing Silas and stealing both his fiancee and his good name.

Chapter 2

Silas's healing of Sally Oates through his herbal knowledge is misinterpreted by the Raveloe folk as a supernatural gift, a form of witchcraft. His refusal to go along with this, and his rejection of those who come to him for charms etc., leads to even more complete isolation from the community;

"every man or woman who had an accident or a new attack after applying to him, set the misfortune down to Master Marner's ill-will and irritated glances. Thus it came to pass that his movement of pity towards Sally Oates ... made his isolation more complete."

In the absence of any other company or outlet for his affections, Silas becomes fixated on the money he is gradually earning and is transformed over 15 years into a rich miser. All else "belonged to the past, from which his life had shrunk away."

Chapters 4 & 5

Dunstan Cass is moved by greed and opportunism to steal Silas's money, which has become everything to Silas and without which he feels like "a forlorn traveller on an unknown desert" (chapter 5) However, this dishonest act leads Silas, gradually, into a new and more open relationship with his neighbours, who pity him and cease to fear him.

Chapter 10

"And yet he was not utterly forsaken in his time of trouble ... was now considered mere craziness."

The Raveloe folk are as superstitious about their Christianity as they are about everything else, but they can be well meaning; Dolly Winthrop brings him some cakes with the letters IHS stamped on them because those letters are on the pulpit cloth at church and "whativer the letters are, they've a good meaning"

Chapter 14

Silas's insistence on keeping the child further softens Raveloe opinion towards him; Dolly's insistence that Eppie be christened, as one of those "good words and good things to keep us from harm", begins to bring him into the mainstream of Raveloe life,

"and in this way, as the weeks grew to months, the child created fresh and fresh links between his life and the lives from which he had hitherto shrunk continually into narrower isolation"

In this way, therefore, the Raveloe's superstitious approach to religion can be seen to be redemptive for Silas.

As the novel continues, Silas grows to rely increasingly on Dolly Winthrop, whose simple and uneducated faith, very akin to superstition, brings him comfort and reconciliation.

Chapter 19

It becomes clear that Silas now realises that the gold was a chain to him, and that the theft of it was a blessing, not a curse ;

"The money was taken away from me in time ... It takes no hold of me now."

These notes should enable you to produce a thorough, coherent and balanced answer to the set title.