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Silas Marner
George Eliot


A STEP BEYOND

TESTS AND ANSWERS

TEST 1

_____ 1. The incriminating clue in the Lantern-Yard robbery is

    A. a tinder-box
    B. Silas Marner's pocket-knife
    C. a gold-handled riding whip
_____ 2. Silas Marner learned herbal medicine from
    A. his mother
    B. a gypsy peddler
    C. the cobbler's wife
_____ 3. Godfrey Cass can't marry Nancy Lammeter because
    A. his father disapproves of her
    B. she is engaged to her cousin Gilbert Osgood
    C. he is already married
_____ 4. Dunstan Cass is attracted to Silas' cottage by
    A. the warm fire
    B. the smell of roast pork
    C. the need for money
_____ 5. The moderator of events at the Rainbow is
    A. Mr. Macey, the old parish-clerk
    B. Ben Winthrop, the wheelwright
    C. Mr. Snell, the landlord
_____ 6. When Silas enters the Rainbow, he looks like
    A. the Devil
    B. a ghost
    C. a mechanical man
_____ 7. Dolly Winthrop's lard-cakes are decorated with
    A. a sacred symbol copied from church
    B. the Cass family crest
    C. her initials
_____ 8. On New Year's Eve, Silas looks out the door because
    A. he's hunting for the thief's footsteps
    B. he thinks his gold might return
    C. he hears a child's cry
_____ 9. Raveloers value
    I. craftsmanship
    II. neighborliness
    III. social rank
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I, II, and III
_____ 10. As she grows up, Eppie shows a love for
    A. flowers, birds, and animals
    B. fine clothes and polished manners
    C. good deeds and church-going

11. Discuss the parallels between Silas' story and Godfrey's.

12. Which do you think Eliot prefers- Silas' religion or Dolly's? Give evidence from the book.

13. Compare the scene at the Rainbow in Chapter 6 with the scene at the Red House in Chapter 11. What total picture of Raveloe life do they represent?

14. Discuss the importance of family in this novel.

15. How does light/dark imagery work in this novel? Relate it to the themes of the book.

TEST 2

_____ 1. Silas Marner's cottage is located near

    A. the church
    B. the stone-pit
    C. the highway
_____ 2. Silas has fallen into a trance when
    I. the church elder he's nursing in Lantern-Yard dies
    II. Dunstan Cass comes to rob him
    III. Eppie wanders into his cottage
    A. I and II only
    B. II and III only
    C. I and III only
_____ 3. Dolly Winthrop calls God
    A. Our Lord and Master
    B. Them As Are Above
    C. God Almighty
_____ 4. The village storyteller is
    A. Squire Cass
    B. the old clerk Mr. Macey
    C. young Aaron Winthrop
_____ 5. Silas first thinks his gold has been stolen by
    A. Jem Rodney, the mole-catcher
    B. a gypsy with earrings
    C. Dunstan Cass
_____ 6. When Dunstan Cass doesn't come home, his family
    A. starts a manhunt for a mysterious gypsy
    B. has the stone-pit drained
    C. assumes he has run away
_____ 7. Nancy and Priscilla Lammeter dress alike because
    A. Nancy thinks sisters should dress the same
    B. Priscilla imitates her sister
    C. Nancy wants to look prettier than Priscilla
_____ 8. Molly Farren's weakness is
    A. her desire to be a lady
    B. her love for her baby
    C. her addiction to opium
_____ 9. Eppie is attracted to Silas' cottage by
    A. her mother's voice
    B. a bright fire
    C. a playful kitten
_____ 10. When Dunstan's skeleton is found, it has with it
    A. his brother Godfrey's riding whip
    B. his father's silver tankards
    C. the money he got for selling Wildfire

11. Discuss Silas' cycle of fortune. Is he the victim of circumstance?

12. How does Godfrey change in the course of the novel? Refer to specific scenes.

13. Using various characters, assemble Eliot's picture of the rural gentry. What does her ideal for this class seem to be?

14. What value does the past hold in this novel?

15. Compare Raveloe with the city Silas comes from.

ANSWERS

TEST 1
  1. B
  2. A
  3. C
  4. A
  5. C
  6. B
  7. A
  8. B
  9. C
  10. A

11. Jot down on scrap paper various elements in Silas' life, and look for parallels in Godfrey's. Then do the reverse- find elements in Godfrey's life that are paralleled in Silas'. These may include: their brothers (Dane and Dunstan), their fiancees (Nancy and Sarah), their relationships to Eppie, or their sixteen-year cycles of exile and redemption.

Begin your answer with a broad statement about the role of parallels in tying the two plots together. Then discuss each element in turn. Show not only the similarities in their stories but also the differences that become apparent when parallel events are contrasted. For example, Silas' fiancee breaks off their engagement when he's falsely accused, but Godfrey becomes engaged to Nancy when his true secret is not revealed. Refer to specific scenes in the book whenever possible. For example, in writing about their differing relationships to Eppie, you might refer to the two scenes when Eppie, first as an infant and then as a grown girl, turns away from Godfrey to touch Silas' face. End with a paragraph looking at the pattern that the parallels create in the novel as a whole, and discussing the symmetry of the novel.

12. Begin by comparing Silas' and Dolly's religions. Discuss this on several levels: the different words they use, the different rituals they follow, their different concepts of God, and their different religious spirits. Then discuss how these religions affect the plot, referring to specific incidents. For example, Silas' religion creates a tragic situation when he is falsely accused by the drawing of lots. Dolly's religion helps Silas to be incorporated into the community when he takes Eppie to be christened. Finally, define what you think is Eliot's moral scheme in this book. Look at the plot- who gets punished and who is rewarded? Refer also to her own comments. Then show how this moral scheme fits in with either of these two religions.

13. Before you answer, make a list of details, characters, and events for each scene. Find items in the two lists which are similar or in direct contrast. Focus your discussion upon these points. Contrasts might include the fact that the Rainbow group is lower class and all-male, while the Red House group also has upperclass and female characters. Similarities might include the fact that Silas interrupts both scenes, and music and social rituals are important in both. Decide whether there are more contrasts or similarities. Then, in your opening paragraph, make a statement about how similar or different the two scenes are. Following this, you can organize your answer in one of two ways. You can discuss the Rainbow scene first and then the Red House scene. Or you can discuss each point of comparison separately. In your final paragraph, describe the total picture of Raveloe. If you've focused on contrasts, you might say Raveloe is really two different social worlds. If you've focused on similarities, you might say it's a harmonious community, with one set of values for all social classes.

14. Jot down the names of the book's major characters. Then beside them write names of their family and what the family is like. Don't take the word "family" too literally. It may include adoptive relations, such as Silas and Eppie, or very close friendships, such as Silas and William Dane or Dolly and Eppie. It may even include strong social groups, such as Silas' sect (the "brethren"). You can organize your answer in several different ways, according to whatever pattern you see in this list. For instance, you may want to contrast happy families to unhappy families. You may want to contrast biological families to families united by affection. Or if you think all of the families exemplify a similar feeling or value, you can discuss them one at a time, focusing on that common feature. Your opening sentence should state whatever pattern you are examining. Then work through the examples you have listed, referring to specific scenes in the book. In your final paragraph, tie this pattern into the themes and values of the book as a whole.

15. Begin by writing about actual objects and scenes that are bright or dark, such as Silas' bright gold, Molly's dark vial of opium, Silas' paleness, Eppie's and Godfrey's blond hair, Silas' bright cottage, or the Casses' dark parlor. Discuss what value each of these objects has in the plot- good, bad, dangerous, precious, etc. Then move to a more abstract level and discuss how various scenes are pictured as bright or dark. For example, the robbery of Silas' gold is a dark night scene, but his afternoons in the meadow with Eppie are light. Finally, examine the use of bright and dark as concepts in the book. For example, Godfrey speaks of Nancy as his bright hope, Silas talks about the dark mystery of his fate, and Dolly talks about the light shed by religion. If you see a definite pattern to all this imagery, define it in your final paragraph. If you don't, discuss the effect upon the novel of a pattern of imagery that's constantly changing.

TEST 2

  1. B
  2. C
  3. B
  4. B
  5. A
  6. C
  7. A
  8. C
  9. B
  10. A

11. First, outline Silas' cycle of fortune by briefly summarizing his story. Discuss which incidents mark his lowest points and which are his highest points. Analyze briefly the novel's symmetry. Then discuss the ways in which Silas seems a victim of circumstance. These may include his mysterious trances, the random treachery of others (such as William Dane and Dunstan), and the accidents that lead to his fatal events (such as his leaving his door open). In your next paragraph, discuss the ways in which Silas controls his fate. Talk here about conscious decisions he makes (to go away with his door unlocked, to keep the baby Eppie) and about features of his personality, such as his trusting nature, his miserliness, or his withdrawal from human companionship. Depending upon which examples persuade you most, finish with a paragraph arguing your case one way or the other. Show how the themes of the book support your case- do they show human beings as victims or as responsible creatures?

12. Begin by summarizing the events of Godfrey's story. Point out how it intersects with Silas' story. Then devote a paragraph to describing in detail Godfrey's personality in Part One. Discuss what Eliot says about him and how other characters regard him. Analyze his mental and emotional state during dramatized scenes. Refer to specific actions which reveal his character (such as letting Dunstan sell Wildfire or rushing into the snow in dancing shoes). In the next paragraph, describe Godfrey in Part Two. Again, look at all the various ways the author presents him to you. Emphasize how he's changed since Part One and how he hasn't changed. For example, he now speaks of God instead of fortune, but he still covers his selfish motives with a noble air when he offers to adopt Eppie. In your final paragraph, sum up how he's changed and discuss why these changes occurred.

13. Before writing, jot down the names of all the gentry characters you can remember. Try to group them in some pattern. For instance, you may want to write about the professionals, such as Kimble and Crackenthorpe, the good farmers, such as the Lammeters and Osgoods, and then the rural "first family," the Casses. Or you may want to talk about the younger generation- Godfrey, Dunstan, Nancy, Priscilla- as opposed to the older generation. You may want to discuss the men first and then the women. Deal with the strong families, the Lammeters and Osgoods, as opposed to weak families, the Casses and Kimbles. Write about the characters whom you think Eliot approves of first, and then discuss the characters you think she doesn't approve of. When you have chosen your pattern, begin your answer with a general statement about Eliot's view of this class. Then devote a paragraph to each separate cluster of characters you're discussing. In your final paragraph, define Eliot's moral values in this novel. Then show which gentry characters seem most in tune with those values.

14. In your opening sentence, define "the past"- familiar objects, personal memories, and traditions. Then devote a paragraph to examples of each category. Under familiar objects, you might discuss Silas' brown pot, the furze bush and stone-pit that Eppie cherishes, or the Squire's tankards at the Red House. Refer to specific scenes which show what value these hold for certain characters. Under personal memories, discuss characters who cling to their memories, such as Silas, Eppie, Mr. Macey, or Nancy. Discuss how these characters are psychologically affected by their memories. Show how, in some cases, this changes the plot. Under traditions, talk about the traditions of Raveloe and how the community preserves them. In your final paragraph, define the value of the past in this novel. What other themes does it tie in with? How is it related to the novel's setting and tone?

15. Make two lists, side by side, of details describing the city and the village. Find parallels and contrasts in those two lists. If it helps, focus your thinking on two parts of the book: when Silas first comes to Raveloe and compares it to his hometown, and thirty-two years later when Silas returns to the city and sees it through new eyes. Look for differences on many levels: physical details, economic conditions, values, and social structures. In some cases, compare Raveloe directly with Lantern-Yard- for example, in contrasting their religious beliefs. In other cases, look at the city as a whole. For example, the Lantern- Yard sect is a small community trying to maintain its identity within the large urban area, while Raveloe is a tightly integrated community where everyone knows everybody else. Begin your answer with a general statement about the two settings of the book and how they fit into the plot. Then work through your list of examples. Whenever possible, show how Eliot seems to feel about these settings. In your final paragraph, define the historical significance of these two settings for the novel. Then express your own opinion about Eliot's purpose in contrasting them.

[Silas Marner Contents]


TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING

  • THEMES
    1. Who do you think is "lucky" in this book? Who is "unlucky"? What role does luck play in the novel?
    2. Compare Dolly's religion to Nancy's. Then compare the Raveloe religion to Silas' Lantern-Yard beliefs.
    3. Discuss the aliens in this book: Silas Marner, the first Mr. Lammeter, Cliff the London tailor, the Misses Gunn, the gypsy peddler.
    4. How does Eliot contrast the social classes in this novel? How does she connect them?
  • CHARACTERS
    1. Who do you think is the villain of this novel? Support your opinion.
    2. Who do you think is the hero of this novel? Support your opinion.
    3. Compare William Dane and Dunstan Cass.
    4. Compare Dolly Winthrop and Priscilla Lammeter.
    5. Compare Godfrey and his brother Dunstan.
    6. Compare Nancy and Eppie.
  • SCENES
    1. Discuss the episode where Silas breaks his brown pot. Why is this an important scene?
    2. Discuss how and why Eliot introduces you to Nancy by showing her with the Misses Gunn.
    3. Analyze Chapter 6, the conversation at the Rainbow. What does this show you about the individuals there? What does it show you about Raveloe in general?
  • TECHNIQUE
    1. Discuss the symmetry of this novel.
    2. Trace the plant imagery throughout the book. How does it relate to the themes?
    3. Analyze the author's commentary voice. Do you think this adds to or detracts from the story? Defend your opinion.
    4. How does Eliot use dialect in this novel? What effect does it create?
  • RESEARCH TOPICS
    1. Read the book of Job in the Bible. Compare this story to Silas Marner.
    2. Read Wordsworth's poem "Michael" and show how it influenced George Eliot in Silas Marner.
    3. Read Shakespeare's play The Winter's Tale and discuss parallels between it and Silas Marner.
  • CREATIVE WRITING
    1. Write a newspaper article for the Raveloe Voice, reporting on Silas Marner's robbery.
    2. Write the story of Silas finding Eppie as Mr. Macey might tell it.
    3. Write a version of Godfrey's will, telling his secret about Eppie.

[Silas Marner Contents]


GLOSSARY

ATHANASIAN CREED
A Christian creed defining belief in the holy Trinity and the incarnation of God in Christ.

BAKEHUS
Dialect: "bakehouse." A building or room where an oven is made available for baking.

CATALEPSY
A state of temporary paralysis and loss of sensation.

CHINES
A cut of meat from around the backbone.

COLLOGUE
Dialect: "conspire."

COLLY
Dialect: "to make black as coal."

'CUTE
Dialect: "acute." Perceptive, sharp, clever.

DOUBT
Dialect: "suspect."

FARRIER
One who attends to or shoes horses. A blacksmith.

FURZE
A spiny evergreen shrub with yellow flowers.

FUSTIAN
A sturdy cloth made of coarse linen and cotton, dyed a dull color, usually worn by the working class.

HACK
A light saddle horse.

JOSEPH
A long riding cloak worn by ladies in the eighteenth century (old-fashioned by the time of Silas Marner).

LARD-CAKES
Small flat cakes made of dough, lard, sugar, and spice, not a delicacy but a treat for country folk.

MANT'S BIBLE
A three-volume edition of the Bible, published in 1816, with explanatory notes and maps.

MAWKIN
Dialect: "scarecrow."

MOITHERED
Dialect: "broken into small flakes." Bewildered, worried.

MOLE-CATCHER
Someone who exterminated pesky field moles for farmers and then sold the valuable mole skins for a profit. Often, mole-catchers also did some illegal poaching on the side.

OLD HARRY
The Devil.

ORTS
Scraps of food, leftovers.

PARISH-CLERK
A layman who assists the minister during church services.

PIERT
Dialect: "peart." Brisk, lively, cheerful, healthy.

PILLION
A pad attached behind a saddle for a second rider.

SCRAT
Dialect: "scratch." To struggle for a living.

'SIZES
Dialect: "assizes." The sessions of superior court in English counties.

SPRINGE
Dialect: "active, supple."

SODGER
Dialect: "soldier."

THROSTLE
A song thrush.

TINDER-BOX
A little metal box holding tinder and a flint and steel for lighting a fire.

REFERENCE
THE STORY, continued


ECC [Silas Marner Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of PinkMonkey.com, Inc. is prohibited.

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