silas marner

My little sisters used to watch this show on PBS with a dog (a jack russell?) who would imagine himself as the main character in a different literary classic in each episode.  I can’t remember the name of the show, and I would only catch bits and pieces of it in passing, but the one episode I distinctly remember focused on Silas Marner.

From that vague introduction, I knew the basic premise of the story — an outcast miser is robbed, but then adopts a little girl which drastically changes his life.  But I have to say, the show just didn’t manage to capture the depth of the title character (the fact that he was portrayed by a dog may have had something to do with that) or the nuances of the story.  

In fact, Silas Marner, written by Mary Ann Evans under the name of George Eliot, is really the story of one man’s fate and one man’s decisions.  Much of Marner’s life seems to be dictated by events out of his control —  the reasons for his arrival in the village of Raveloe, the theft of his treasured gold, the arrival of a child on his hearth — though it is his reactions to these events that shape his character.

The other man in the story is Godfrey Cass, the son of the village squire.  As a man of wealth and status, Cass is in a position to be in control of his future.  But the decisions he makes — his involvement in an unwise marriage, his inability to stand up to a bullying brother, his unwillingness to own to his mistakes — have consequences that affect not only him, but many others in Ravelow.  It is his decisions, in fact, that drive the plot of the novel.    

The story starts slowly as the reader becomes acquainted with Marner and Cass and their respective circumstances.  A conflict between Cass and his brother Dunstan triggers the action of the plot, but as is so often the case, the situation brightens when a baby enters the picture.  It was at this point that I truly started enjoying the book. 

The plot of Silas Marner is relatively simple, as are the characters in many ways.  But it is the simplicity and the honesty of the emotions displayed in these characters that provides depth to them, which I’m sure is what has made Silas Marner stand the test of time.

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~ by Molly on January 29, 2009.

One Response to “silas marner”

  1. The show was called Wishbone, and I think I’ve made a reference to it in every English class I’ve ever taken.

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