The weaver Silas Marner is a member of a small Calvinist congregation in Lantern Yard, a slum street in an unnamed city in Northern England in the early 19th century. He is falsely accused of stealing the congregation's funds, leaves the city in disgrace, and accumulates a small fortune in another town… only to lose it to theft. But he soon adopts an orphan child quite by accident. The exchange of one treasure for another is the heart of the story.
In Silas Marner, George Eliot combines humor, jealousy, and rich symbolism within an historically precise setting to create an extraordinary tale of love and hope. This novel explores the issues of redemptive love, the notion of community, the role of religion, and the status of the gentry and family. Eliot concerns herself, as always, with matters of ethics, and it is clear that for her, ethics exist apart from religion. Although it seems like a simple moral story with a happy ending, George Eliot's text is rich with ideas about organized religion, the role of the gentry, and the negative impact of the industrial revolution.
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