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MonkeyNotes-Silas Marner by George Eliot
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Chapter 21

Summary

The next morning Silas tells Eppie that he wishes to visit Lantern Yard and settle the matter of the old theft. Eppie is delighted, for the visit will give her an advantage over Aaron, who is more informed than her about most things. Mrs. Winthrop is apprehensive about the unseen dangers involved in the journey, but is pleased that Silas is revisiting his roots and vindicating himself from the false accusation.

On the fourth day, Silas and Eppie reach Lantern Yard. Silas is struck "by the change wrought in thirty years." After many inquiries, he reaches Prison Street. It is a dark, ugly place, and Eppie feels that it is worse than a workhouse. There are sallow, begrimed faces everywhere, and the streets stink. To Silas' distress and amazement, a factory has replaced the Lantern Yard.On returning home, Silas tells Dolly that everything has changed in his native town and even his home is gone. He is upset that he was unable to find out the truth about the first robbery and wonders if his past will be dark to the last. Dolly says that if they don't know the "rights" of the matter, it "doesn't hinder there being a rights." Silas sees Dolly's point and says that he now realizes that there is a power in life to make things right. That power had given him Eppie and made his life happy.


Notes

The return of his money has given Silas the confidence and ability to revisit Lantern Yard, where he hopes to absolve himself of the false accusations about him. He also hopes to settle his doubts about his old faith and his new one. The journey also brings the story to a full circle because it is the "moral recovery of a frustrated soul," that the author is trying to depict.

Silas finds that Lantern Yard after thirty years is cheerless, and the old landmarks have been swept away. His homestead and the yard itself have been demolished. Where there are no signs of industrialization in Raveloe, in Lantern Yard, they are seen everywhere. In fact, Lantern Yard has simply become a factory town. The chapel and graveyard are gone, and the houses are huddled together. Darkness and dinginess are everywhere, both literally and symbolically. A deluge of grimy faces flows from the factory for midday meals. Eliot warns that industrialization may swallow up all the cities and towns, even the village of Raveloe.

Dolly's remarks at the end of the chapter echo the author's deepest convictions. George Eliot once wrote, "the idea of God is the ideal of a goodness entirely human." Dolly feels that even if she and Silas are in the dark about the "right," it doesn't alter its being there. Silas agrees that there is "light enough to trusten by." Silas' faith, in spite of tribulations, has survived, and he knows that a special power sent Eppie to him. In the past, Silas has always needed some outside support in his life: first religion, next gold, and then Eppie. Now he is independent of them. He has attached himself to the light of love, which dwells within humanity, and it is the knowledge of this that has offered peace to Silas.

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