From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Silas Marner

Silas Marner

  

by George Eliot

Analysis: Writing Style

Realist

Describing Silas Marner as slice-of-life realism is not quite fair—it's a lot more than that—but many critics have noticed the "Dutch realism" of her writing here. Dutch realism refers to paintings in the 17th century that focused on images of domestic, often interior life, rather than Biblical or classical scenes. Eliot's use of dialect, like this first instance "Some folks 'ud say that was a fine beast you druv in yesterday, Bob?" (1.6.2), has a lot to do with the book's air of realism. Eliot was trying to represent not stereotypical country people but a specific kind of dialect—like Mark Twain representing Jim and Huckleberry's speaking voices in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The realism also comes through in the careful attention Eliot pays to the everyday facts of village life, describing the tools of Silas's trade, the piles of laundry that Mrs. Winthrop washes, the humdrum conversations of men at the pub, and the sneers of city folk laughing at Nancy's dialect. As a writer of realism, Eliot was participating in the 19th century's dominant form of novel writing. The great masters of the mid-1800s—Dickens, Trollope, the Brontës, Thackeray—were all, in various ways, realists: they wanted to represent truth by describing common, everyday life rather than the aristocratic adventures that had been popular before novels became the dominant form of literature.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement