October 21, 2022

#08-249: Silas Marner

Silas finds Eppie

Note: George Eliot's stirring novel tells how a child's love redeems a man who has lost everything--or so he thought.

Get Ready: Which would you prefer to have: lots of money and little love, or lots of love and little money? Why?

Silas Marner was the third of seven novels written by British author Mary Ann Evans under her pen name, George Eliot.

The title character is a pious bachelor who works as a weaver. After he is framed for stealing his church's money, and his fiancée marries another, he leaves London in shame and settles near a rural village where he is unknown. Shunning society, he comes to feel the gold he acquires through weaving is the only thing he can trust.

One foggy night, his gold is stolen by Dunsey, son of Squire Cass, the town's leading landowner. He sinks into a deep depression, despite the help offered by his neighbors.

Earlier, Dunsey's older brother Godfrey had secretly married Molly, a lower-class opium-addict from another town. This stands in the way of his marrying Nancy, a woman of his class.

But one snowy New Year's Eve, Molly tries to bring her and Godfrey's baby to the party at the Squire's house, planning to expose Godfrey. On the way, however, she succumbs to the cold. The baby wanders through the snow into Silas's house; he follows the tracks back to Molly's body, and goes to the Squire's for help. Godfrey recognizes his dead wife, but keeps it to himself.

Silas keeps the child and names her Eppie. She changes his life completely. Robbed of his gold, he sees the golden-haired child as a suitable replacement. Godfrey provides occasional gifts to Silas to help with Eppie, still not letting on that the child is actually his.

A kind-hearted neighbor, Dolly Winthrop, also provides more practical help with the child's upbringing. Dolly also encourages Silas and Eppie to participate in the life of the village.

Sixteen years pass. Eppie has become the pride of the village, and deeply loves her foster-father. Godfrey and Nancy, meanwhile, have been unable to bear a child of their own. When Dunsey's skeleton is found in a quarry--still clutching the gold he stole from Silas--a grieving Godfrey confesses to Nancy that Molly was his first wife, and Eppie is his daughter. They offer to raise her as a lady, but Eppie politely refuses, choosing to stay with Silas.

In the end, she marries Dolly's son Aaron, and they live happily together in Silas's house.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. clutching
  2. grieving
  3. opium
  4. pious
  5. quarry
  6. shunning
  7. squire
  8. succumbs
  9. upbringing
  10. weaver

  1. a place where stone is dug for building
  2. gives in
  3. holding tight to
  4. a person who makes cloth
  5. religious, faithful
  6. raising (of a child)
  7. a country gentleman
  8. mourning; sad
  9. a narcotic drug
  10. avoiding; staying away from

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for October 21, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. h; 3. i; 4. e; 5. a; 6. j; 7. g; 8. b; 9. f; 10. d