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Silas Marner

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"A child, more then all other gifts that earth can offer to declining man, brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts." This is the epigraph by Wordsworth that begins the novel Silas Marner. It has several connections to this novel - the declining man, the gift of the child, and the hope that the child brings to his life. Each meaning, in order, develops in the story. Let us see how each develops.

The first connection that this epigraph has to the novel is in the declining man. Marner began the novel as a young man, full of life and hope. He was engaged to be married, active in the little church in his village of Lantern Yard, and on good terms with the inhabitants of the village. He was accused of theft, and since he wouldn't confess to the crime, he was excommunicated from the village church. His engagement was broken off, and he left the town of Lantern yard for the village of Raveloe. Circumstances weren't any better there - the people were happy to have a weaver, but he was viewed with suspicion. Marner became more and more alone, until the money he earned with his weaving was his only friend. As a final blow, even that was stolen from him. It was just when things didn't seem like they could get any worse that the second connection stepped in.

The second connection between the novel and the epigraph is, of course, the gift of a child. It was on New Year's Eve that Marner received this unlikely gift. He had been instructed by some of the townspeople to stay awake and greet the New Year, and by doing so to perhaps regain his lost wealth. That night, Marner had gotten into the habit of going to the door, looking out briefly, and quickly closing the door again. Once, while he was looking out the door, one of the fits he had from time to time seized him, and he was frozen where he stood, with the door open. It was at this moment that the child, sighting the gleam of light from the open door, crawled into Marner's house and fell asleep by the fire. Upon recovering from his fit, Marner discovered the child. It was from this point that things began to look up for Silas Marner.

This leads to the third and last point, the hope that the child brings into Marner's life. After first finding her, it was suggested that Marner give her up for adoption. The idea repulsed him, and he decided that since it was he who had found her, he would be the one to raise her as his own. With help from one



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