by George Eliot
Silas Marner Isolation Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
There were the calls of hunger; and Silas, in his solitude, had to provide his own breakfast, dinner, and supper, to fetch his own water from the well, and put his own kettle on the fire; and all these immediate promptings helped, along with the weaving, to reduce his life to the unquestioning activity of a spinning insect. (1.2.3)
Aside from the association between Silas and spiders—see "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" for more about this—this quotation suggests that being alone too much can turn you into a man-machine—or something worse. It's basic human nature to be social. Silas is pretty much one bad experience away from sticking letter bombs in the mail.
Every man's work, pursued steadily, tends in this way to become an end in itself, and so to bridge over the loveless chasm of his life. (1.2.3)
In Middlemarch, Eliot shows how obsession isolates people. Here, a decade before Middlemarch, she spends a little time thinking about just the same thing. By obsessing over his weaving, Silas manages to isolate himself. Sure, it's partly Raveloe's fault for being a little narrow-minded—but it's also Silas's fault, for not knowing how to find a balance between work and life. How modern.
Thus it came to pass that his movement of pity towards Sally Oates, which had given him a transient sense of brotherhood, heightened the repulsion between him and his neighbours, and made his isolation more complete. (1.2.6)
Silas tries to reach out by using his herb-knowledge to help a sick woman, but the villagers misinterpret his skill as magic. When he refuses to sell fake charms, they promptly reject him. Sucks for Silas, but look at it this way: if they'd accepted him at first, he might never have been so lonely and might never have taken in Eppie—so maybe you (or the soul, if we're going with allegory) do need to go through a period of isolation.