Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

Even people whose lives have been made various by learning, sometimes find it hard to keep a fast hold on their habitual views of life, on their faith in the Invisible… when they are suddenly transported to a new land. (1.2.1)

There's a lot going on in this sentence. First, Eliot seems to be linking religious belief with habit. Religion isn't transportable. If you suddenly leave behind your friends, family, and home, you might find yourself leaving behind your religion, as well. Second, the way to combat that atheism is to be educated, because—it seems—education broadens your world, to allow you to see the similarities between places. In other words, Silas doesn't see Raveloe as part of a larger England. His city and the village he moves to might as well be on different planets. His experience is so narrow that he doesn't understand himself as living in a nation made up of many different types of people and places. Of course, the idea that education can make you more religious is not exactly common—nor is it true to Eliot's experience.

Quote #2

To people accustomed to reason about the forms in which their religious feeling has incorporated itself, it is difficult to enter into that simple, untaught state of mind in which the form and the feeling have never been severed by an act of reflection. (1.1.18)

A lot of Eliot's thinking about religion has to do with the relationship between education and belief. She seems to be suggesting that people without much education have a simpler, more natural religious belief system, and that thinking too hard—"reflection"—can make beliefs difficult to hold. But does she really think it's better to be uneducated?

Quote #3

You may prosper, for all that: there is no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies[.] (1.1.15)

Here, Silas bitterly accuses his friend William Dane of betraying him. At this moment, Silas renounces his simple belief system, because he feels that God isn't just. Little does he know that he's going to get his reward at the end of the novel. Is Eliot saying that God really is just? Or is righteousness something that only narrators can do?

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