Literature Study GuidesSilas MarnerPart 1 Chapter 15 Summary

Silas Marner | Study Guide

George Eliot

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Silas Marner | Part 1, Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

From a distance, Godfrey Cass watches Eppie grow, giving Silas Marner the occasional gift and earning others' "goodwill" for this. He expects his daughter is happy. He himself is happy and looking forward to marrying Nancy Lammeter, though they have not set a date. It appears that Dunstan Cass will not be coming back to tell on him, and he imagines a future with Nancy and their children, unaware that someday he may regret having relinquished his claim to Eppie. Still, he is committed to ensuring she is "well provided for" since that is "a father's duty."

Analysis

Where Eppie is concerned, Godfrey assuages his conscience with occasional gifts of money to Silas and promises to himself that he will always do his duty as a father. In the meantime, he is courting Nancy and sure that they will one day marry. He has himself convinced that everything is working out for the best for everyone, telling himself that "people in humble stations [are often] happier ... than those brought up in luxury." This seems like irony (when the speaker says the opposite of what is meant), for scrimping and saving are hardly enjoyable.

Godfrey imagines a day when he will have a happy home with Nancy and their children. The villagers also imagine this day for him and believe he "ha[s] taken the right turn." But they don't know he was married, abandoned the child, and was ready to marry someone else. The narrator seems to disagree with the villagers. When she says it is "a father's duty" to "see that [his child] is well provided for," this again seems like irony. It is likely the narrator feels a father's duty to provide for his child directly and to bring up that child himself.

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