The novel ‘Silas Marner’ is written by George Eliot and took place in Raveloe which lies in the rich central plain of Merry England in the late 18th century and beginning of the 19th century. This novel is published in 1861 but is concerned with events from 1780’s to 1820’s; Eliot celebrates the best in the traditional rural life, while acknowledging the inevitability of progress and change.
The novel’s major theme, of loss and redemption through love, is embodied in the experience of its main character – Silas Marner. Other themes of this novel are isolation, injustice, faith and duty. The novel attempts to prove that the love of other’s is ultimately more fulfilling than the love of money. The novel’ other main character is Godfrey Cass whose story is linked throughout the novel with that of Silas Marner.
Squire Cass is one of characters of this novel. He is the owner of the Red House and father of four sons. Squire Cass has raised his two sons – Godfrey and Dunstan in a different way and they both turns out as bad people. Dunstan ends up being an alcoholic, gambling man and a thief. Godfrey is a good-natured young man, but weak-willed who is usually unable to think of much other than his immediate material comfort. So, he ends up being mentally weak. Eliot blames this on the Squire.
The Squire indulges his children out of lack of interest. He doesn’t take interest in his son’s day to day actions and this ruined them by spoiling them, assuming that money will replace the love he doesn’t show. When Dunstan originally goes missing the Squire doesn’t care and assumes he will be back soon enough. He has lack of discipline. He makes harsh decisions and doesn’t change his mind even after he has calmed down and realised he was wrong, making him irrational and stubborn. This leads to his son’s being afraid of him and not wanting to open up the truth to him. A good parent should guide their child through their younger life and help to deal with problem like the one Godfrey has got himself into. There seems to a lack of intimacy in the Red House. The family does not eat together and there is no real greeting between the Squire and Godfrey in a morning.
Godfrey is the eldest son of Squire Cass and the heir of Cass estate. Initially he is a good natured young man as shown here but is too mentally weak to be able to believe in anything but chance. As a young man he married an opium addict, Molly Farren with whom he had a daughter – Eppie. Godfrey handling of this secret marriage shows guilt and moral cowardice in him which keep him paralyzed. Godfrey allows marriage largely out of guilt and keeps it secret because he knows his father will reject all connections with him if it ever comes out. He needed someone to put him back on track which only a mother could really do as his father isn’t very good at being a father.
Godfrey has a lack of moral courage which brought his sorrows upon him. He should have brought Molly to his home and told people he was getting married and then he wouldn’t have been in the state he is.
Godfrey tries to be a good father but instead of showing his feelings through love and care for his daughter, he tries to do so by giving money to spend on clothes and accommodation for Eppie and when she is older making her a lady and rich. When Eppie is young and living with Molly, Godfrey rarely visited on odd occasion and took no notice of his daughter. He doesn’t show any feelings towards her, he just sees her because it is father’s duty to give money towards her upbringing, not through love and his own willingness to do so.
Godfrey is selfish as well. This is proved when he doesn’t do more for Eppie and worries about his self image and what people would think if they found out he had married a drug addict and also doesn’t want anything to get in the way of him courting Nancy. As his own father, Godfrey has proved to be a bad father.
The title character Silas Marner is Eliot’s perfect model of a father. He is loving and caring and doesn’t believe in punishment. He finds it difficult to direct his emotions to anyone but his money due to his past experience for the first 15 years in Lantern Yard. His neighbours in Raveloe regard him with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity. No one in Raveloe became friendly with Silas as he spends all day working at his loom and has never made an effort to get to know any of the villagers and furthermore because his physical appearance is odd – he has strange and frightening eyes and looks much older than his age. Once his money is discovered missing. Silas loses an object towards which he can direct his emotions. This is eventually replaced with Eppie who grown up into a fine young woman.
Silas repeatedly shows how much he cares for Eppie for example, when she runs out of his cottage, he becomes crazy of worry at the prospect she may get lost or injuries herself in some way. In this instance, although he doesn’t want, he feels he must punish her and so he shuts her in the coal cupboard – which she enjoys! He raise her with love instead of raising with punishment. Additionally, his love is shown by the name he chooses for her ‘hepzibah’ which means ‘my love is in her’.
Silas is selfless. He lets her make her own decisions in matters like moving to live with Godfrey. But of course due his attachment of sixteen years with Eppie he would not like to see her leave and that is shown by, “I won’t stand in your way”. Eppie wouldn’t leave him as she is grateful for everything Silas has done for her and furthermore because she knows that he wouldn’t like to see her going that is shown in this quotation, “He’s took care of me and loved me from the first and I’ll deave to him as long as he lives, and nobody shall ever come between him and me”.
The novel ‘Silas Marner’ gives us Eliot’s message about fatherhood which is the real father is the one who cares for child, loves and treats the child well. The ideal father lets his child make decisions on its own to lead its life. The father who has blood relation with child and who is child’s biological father but doesn’t care for child does not deserve to be called ‘Father’.
The Squire is biological father of Dunstan and Godfrey but spoilt he them which made them expect people to do everything for them in life and also greedy. Also, Godfrey is Eppie’s biological father and means to be a good father but he is mentally weak and doesn’t show his love thorough emotions but by money which isn’t a good sign of good parenting. This concludes that neither Squire nor Godfrey is able to become good father.
Eliot’s ideal fathering role is Silas Marner. This is because he is not biological father of Eppie but loves Eppie and treats her well, letting her make decisions on her own to lead her own life. This can be seen in the words of Eppie, “I can’t feel as I’ve got any father but one, I’ve always thought of a little home where he’d sit i’ the corner, and I should fend and do everything for him. I can’t think o’ no other home”