Essay on Eliot's Presentation of Parenthood in Silas Marner

Essay on Eliot's Presentation of Parenthood in Silas Marner

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Eliot's Presentation of Parenthood in Silas Marner



"A child more than all other gifts
----------------------------------

That earth can offer to declining man

Brings hope with it and forward looking thoughts." (Title page)

One the title page of the first edition of Silas Marner, George Eliot
quotes from Wordsworth's poem Michael. She immediately introduces the
significance of parenthood and the powerful emotional effect a child
can have on a parent. I feel Eliot uses the parents in Silas Marner to
demonstrate the personal rewards that are gained from the efforts of
good parenting, and the weak family ties created by indifferent,
ineffective parenting. She questions what makes a good parent and also
examines the nature versus nurture aspect of parenthood.

I think that Eliot believes in the importance of a female influence in
nurturing children and illustrates this in her presentation of the
Cass family. Squire Cass is a widower of four children whose house
"was without that presence of the wife and mother which is the
fountain of wholesome love and fear in parlour and kitchen" (P32). I
feel that this metaphor describes the significance Elliot places on
the involvement of a woman's devotion in a family. She influences the
reader to disapprove of the Squire as a parent since in Raveloe "it
was thought a weakness in the Squire that he had kept all his sons at
home in idleness" (P32) and uses him as an example of a bad parent,
giving examples of his neglect as a father. "The old Squire was an
implacable man: he made resolutions in violent anger, but he was not
to be removed from them after his anger had subsided" (P82). ...


... middle of paper ...


...father would be much happier without owning
the child" (P146).

I think in her presentation of parenthood, Elliot is reinforcing her
moral message that good actions result in good consequences, and bad
actions result in bad consequences. The good parents in the novel are
rewarded with loyal devoted children who turn out well. The bad
parents are punished, they lose their children. She also shows the
positive influence a child has on a person's life, through Silas and
the forward-looking effect of a child. She describes this effect with
the powerful imagery of a child guiding a person to a happier life. "
Men are lead away from threatening destruction; a hand is put into
theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land,
so they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's"
(P160).

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