Silas Marner | Study Guide

George Eliot

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Silas Marner | Conclusion | Summary

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Summary

Eppie and Aaron Winthrop marry the following spring. The day is warm and sunny, and Eppie is wearing a white cotton dress bought for her by Nancy Cass. Godfrey Cass himself is out of town. The wedding feast, which Godfrey has provided, is held at the Rainbow. They stop at Mr. Macey's door, and he wishes them well.

The guests have arrived early at the Rainbow and talk about Silas Marner's "strange history," ultimately agreeing—even the farrier, John Dowlas—that "he had brought a blessing on himself by acting like a father to a lone motherless child" and " that when a man had deserved his good luck, it was the part of his neighbours to wish him joy." They cheer the bridal party when it arrives.

Ben Winthrop stays on at the Rainbow, leaving Dolly Winthrop, Silas, and the young couple to return to the cottage. The cottage garden is larger than Eppie had planned and bright with flowers, and Godfrey has paid for additions to the house, as well, to house the growing family. Eppie says to Silas, "O father ... what a pretty home ours is! I think nobody could be happier than we are."

Analysis

After leaving Godfrey and Nancy talking beside the hearth, readers do not meet Godfrey again. But his role in Eppie's life is clear. He made extensions to the cottage, which is now on his land; having heard that Eppie desired a garden in Chapter 19, he has made sure Eppie has "a larger garden than she had ever expected"; he paid for the wedding dress she wanted and for the wedding feast at the Rainbow. The village supposes that all this largesse is meant as compensation for Dunstan's theft of Silas's hoard, but readers know better. It seems that Eppie has accepted Godfrey into her life but in a more distant role—one that will not embarrass her or Silas.

In the conclusion, readers meet a few of the villagers again, who are now 16 years older than when last they appeared. Some have a very different memory of the past than the reader does. Mr. Macey, who is too old to leave home, claims he "was the first to say there was no harm in [Silas]"; yet the tailor was the one who was sure Silas's soul left his body when he was having a fit and called him "a worse heathen than many a dog." Eliot knows that memory can be selective and can even be reshaped to fit a person's current understanding.

The final image is of Eppie and her husband and Silas and his friend Dolly returning to the cottage before the wedding feast. They are happy and have everything they want. Despite all the talk of money and social status, Eppie's final words confirm that true wealth is to be found in the happiness one shares with family and friends.

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