Table of Contents
KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The setting is Raveloe, a verdant, woody village tucked away in the backwoods of the English Midlands. Raveloe's geographical seclusion and the intellectual and spiritual confinement of its simple and congenial rustics is premeditated. In it, George Eliot captures the ambience of a bygone era--one prompted by her indelible Warwickshire memories. The tale is set in the time between 1810 and 1840, when industrialization had started making in-roads into the English countryside and the land enclosures were disgorging impoverished peasants into the towns. Raveloe village, however, remains untouched by the revolutionary changes outside; the rural backdrop is fertile and exuberant, the spinning-wheels hum busily in the farmhouses, and big families live in prodigality, thriving on inherited estates and swearing by ancestral tankards.
Silas Marner - a simple and trusting man who is an industrious weaver with a thread-bare physique and protruding myopic eyes. He is falsely convicted and ostracized by the Lantern Yard community. He migrates to Raveloe, shuns human society, and finds sole pleasure in the hoarding of gold. A child draws him back into the life of the community.
Squire Cass - a gentleman of the highest social standing in Raveloe. He is a weak man who has no control over his children and lives amid total disorder. In public, he is deliberately noisy, patronizing, and insensitive to others and, in his private life, he is moodily silent or reproachful and insulting.
Godfrey Cass - the squire's eldest son who is one of those "tall powerful, florid men, seen chiefly on horseback." His charm is that of a "healthy and good-tempered young animal." He is a decent man, but given to self-indulgence, and he lacks in moral courage. He is regretful of his secret marriage, and his anxiety to marry Nancy Lammeter prevents him from accepting his daughter Eppie.
Dunstan Cass - the squire's younger son who is a wicked, contemptuous fellow, full of swaggering conceit. He takes immense delight in the misfortune of others and is also the man who robs Silas' fortune. He vanishes after the theft, and his corpse is found in the quarry many years later.
Nancy Lammeter - the twenty-three year old, beautiful daughter of a wealthy landowner. She is in love with Godfrey Cass but will not have him until he mends his ways. She is poorly educated, but her lady-like demeanor, refined qualities, and lofty principles make up for her intellectual ignorance.
Eppie - the daughter of Godfrey Cass and Molly Farren. The two- year-old Eppie finds her way to Silas' cottage when her mother dies in the snow outside. She is adopted by Silas. From a delightful child, she grows up to be a charming girl with fineness of feeling. She is loyal to Silas and declines a life of luxury offered by her real father, Godfrey. She is finally married to her childhood sweetheart, Aaron.
Priscilla Lammeter - Nancy Lammeter's elder sister. She is a twenty-eight year old, plain looking woman, who accepts her ordinary looks and the prospect of remaining unmarried with great humor. She does not conform to conventional feminine manners in her actions and is brutally blunt and witty in her speech.
Dolly Winthrop - the wife of Mr. Winthrop, a wheelwright. She is also the mother of Aaron and a godmother to Eppie. She is an excellent housekeeper and a pure Christian soul ready to supply neighborly needs. She is of great help to Silas in bringing up Eppie.