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Quotes

Quote #7

He listened docilely, that he might come to understand better what this life was, from which, for fifteen years, he had stood aloof as from a strange thing, wherewith he could have no communion[.] (1.14.48)

Now that he's responsible for Eppie, Silas meekly follows the directions of the villagers. He's determined to be like everyone else for Eppie's sake. This sentence also emphasizes that Silas is growing up. The word "docile" is strongly associated with childhood, and children are supposed to be "docile," unless you actually want to raise a pack of hellions. The fact that Eliot uses the word to describe Silas suggests that she wants us to think about him like a child learning how to be part of the world.

Quote #8

And if you could but ha' gone on trustening, Master Marner, you wouldn't ha' run away from your fellow-creaturs and been so lone. (2.16.40)

Here, Dolly pulls up an armchair and diagnoses Silas's psychological problems: he lacks trust. If he'd trusted just a little more when he first came to the village, he wouldn't have rejected the community. Gee, if only his very best friend and lover hadn't both betrayed him, maybe he'd have had an easier time trusting people.

Quote #9

The tender and peculiar love with which Silas had reared her in almost inseparable companionship with himself, aided by the seclusion of their dwelling, had preserved her from the lowering influences of the village talk and habits, and had kept her mind in that freshness which is sometimes falsely supposed to be an invariable attribute of rusticity. (2.16.44)

This sentence stands out because it kind of contradicts what Eliot has spent the last two hundred pages emphasizing. It turns out that Silas isn't totally part of his new community. In fact, he and Eppie still stand a little apart from the village. They are a "secluded," almost isolated, part of the village but not absorbed into it. Is this the model that Eliot is recommending?

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