Silas Marner is a beautifully sad book with a great ending. George Elliot highlights important societal themes like class, loss of trust in mankind, hope, greed, hypocrisy in the church among others. Silas is robbed of the trust he has in mankind and the church when his best friend sets him up for the theft of a bag of gold and eventually marries Silas’ fiancee. The church without conducting a proper investigation into the matter draw lots and declare Silas guilty of the alleged crime.He eventually leaves Lantern Yard for Raveloe where he sets himself up as a weaver. He keeps himself away from everybody given what life has already dealt him. His only company being his loom and the gold coins he gets in return for the cloths he weaves.
One of the most important men in Raveloe, Squire Cass has two very troublesome sons . One, Godfrey, is married to a woman whom he cannot introduce to his family and has a beautiful little girl with her. The other, Dunstan, is simply in the habit of squandering his father’s wealth and blackmailing his brother using the knowledge of his marriage. Dunstan blackmails Godfrey into giving him his favourite horse to sell, so as to raise money to pay a debt he owed their father. He leaves the house with the horse but fails woefully in his quest because of his brash nature. On his way back home on foot he finds himself in Silas’s cottage and steals his gold coins.
Silas has developed a strange affinity for his gold bag and the coins in it. He is completely devastated when he returns home to find the gold bag gone. How does he survive this second blow that life serves him? Will he find his gold? Will Dunstan be caught?
I enjoyed the book because it touched on several themes which are relevant even today. The class system and the nature of social climbers. The greed displayed usually by those who have a lot already. The theme that hit a chord with me the most is the ability of people to deal with life’s troubles. Do we like Silas recoil from society when something we consider unbelievable happens or are we able to hold our heads up high, pick up the pieces of our lives and march on.