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Quotes

Quote #1

All cleverness, whether in the rapid use of that difficult instrument the tongue, or in some other art unfamiliar to villagers, was in itself suspicious.

To the villagers, anything unfamiliar is automatically bad news. They don't like people to be different, and they especially don't like big city folk coming in and stirring up trouble in their town. This is the bad kind of tradition, the kind that lets people excuse racism and sexism.

Quote #2

Our old-fashioned country life had many different aspects, as all life must have when it is spread over a various surface, and breathed on variously by multitudinous currents, from the winds of heaven to the thoughts of men, which are for ever moving and crossing each other with incalculable results. (1.3.2)

Don't be fooled into thinking that Silas Marner represents all village life across all of England in all times. Eliot insists that Raveloe's specific traditions and habits are different from those of other villages. She's interested in being particular rather than general. This is Eliot telling us not to take the allegory too literally, although it's sometimes hard to take her seriously about that.

Quote #3

The lapse of time during which a given event has not happened, is, in this logic of habit, constantly alleged as a reason why the event should never happen, even when the lapse of time is precisely the added condition which makes the event imminent. (1.5.1)

Habit also makes people complacent. If something hasn't happened for a long time, that's reason enough to think it will never happen. By that logic, traditions that haven't changed can't change.

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