Silas Marner Essay

Silas Marner Essay

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In George Eliot’s Silas Marner, the reader is introduced to a number of characters that possess the elements of selfishness. Silas Marner, Godfrey Cass, and Dunstan Cass exhibit this trait numerous times during novel. Even though these characters all exhibit selfishness during this story, by the end their characteristics are not similar at all. This schism of development is one of the themes of the story that will be analyzed. Regardless of the similar characteristics characters may possess in the beginning of the story, they can become very different people by the end. These characteristics are not limiting and do not hinder the development of a character.
     Dunstan Cass is a character that the reader finds extraordinarily selfish. The degree to which he manipulates people to gain more money and have a good time is ridiculous. In one instance, the speaker takes the reader into the mind of “Dunsey” as he is contemplating his plan to further scam his brother, Godfrey. In more than one instance, Dunstan reassures himself that he is more cunning than his brother and that manipulating him has become more like a game than anything else. Dunstan gathers loans from his brother and other townspeople and never pays them off. The precious gold of Silas Marner also falls prey to the tireless machine of greed that lies within


                                              Callahan, Thomsen 2
Dunstan’s desensitized mind. The fact that he is taking something of much value away from a simple man like Silas Marner never crosses his mind as he makes his way into Marner’s house and steals the gold pieces. The purpose of the theft is not for the sake of being mean, but rather it is an opportunity to bail himself out of another hole he has dug by manipulating Godfrey. Of the three characters that are first introduced to the reader as being selfish, Dunstan remains cold and selfish even at the end of the novel. He does not learn anything and he does not go through a dramatic change in his life that will force him to re-evaluate his actions.
     Godfrey Cass, brother to Dunstan Cass, is perhaps a litt...


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... Thomsen 4
lives in. Furthermore, this action makes Silas look more human and compassionate to his fellow villagers. This opens Silas to inclusion by the group, and the townspeople, especially Dolly Winthrop, help Silas to raise Eppie. By the end of the novel Silas is very highly regarded by the members of his community and he appears to be very content with himself. This shows how Silas is transformed from a recluse miserly weaver to a kindhearted pillar of the community.
      This transformation that Silas and Godfrey both undergo is a testament to the careful characterization employed by Ms. Eliot. This transformation, among other details, defines these characters making them appear vividly to the reader. Dunstan Cass’ actions are predictable making him take the form of a simple stock character. In literature, a character’s importance can often be measured by how vividly they are portrayed. This is also true in Silas Marner, where Silas and Godfrey are totally round characters, who are intricately involved in almost all important parts of the story; while Dunstan is extremely static, falling outside of the inner circle of highly important characters.

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