by George Eliot
Silas Marner Theme of Home
The desire for home is one of the oldest themes in Western literature (The Odyssey, anyone?). In Silas Marner, Eliot thinks a lot about what home means and what makes a home. Silas is cast out of his home, and the experience is so traumatic that it takes him 31 years to feel comfortable in a new one. Home isn't simply a place where you live; it's a place of community, religious faith, and family. And in Silas Marner, it's always under threat. Knowing what we do about what happens to the real-life counterparts of Raveloe at the beginning of the 19-century, how secure are we supposed to feel about Eppie's delight in her home at the end?
Questions About Home
- Which homes in Silas Marner are happy? Which are unhappy? Why?
- Silas is displaced from his home at the beginning of the novel. What other characters are unhomed in some way?
- How sincere or ironic is Eliot being at the end of Silas Marner? Given the tragedies of the first part of the book, how seriously can we take the Hollywood ending?
Chew on This
Through the examples of Silas and Squire Cass, Eliot suggests that women are necessary for a true home. A house with only men is not a home.
In Silas Marner, childhood homes are permanent. Adults are not able to make new homes for themselves.