“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
-“Life is but a Weaving” by Corrie ten Boom
Life has dealt Silas Marner harder blows than most would be able to bear. Framed for stealing the church money bag by his best friend (William Dane), Silas is banished from the small congregation at Lantern Yard and forced to leave. Adding even more pain, William convinces Silas’s fiance to break off their engagement and marry William instead. Penniless and rejected, Silas moves to the small village of Raveloe where he becomes a solitary miser. Afraid to trust others, he works ceaselessly at his weaving loom, his only aspiration to increase the stacks of golden guineas he hoards under the floor boards. Marner continues in this way for fifteen years, until one night his unlocked door admits a thief who pilfers the gold. Silas spirals into depression, without his gold he has nothing left to live for. Then, Silas once again leaves his door unlocked, and something far more precious than gold enters his house, and his heart.
Like several of the other books I’ve read for The Classics Club, Silas Marner was already a familiar story to me. However, since the previous version I knew was a dramatized audio version it was nice to read the original book word for word.
I’ll never forget going to a used book sale and finding a set of antique classics. “How much are you asking for the whole set?” I inquired.
“Seven dollars,” was the reply.
“Seven dollars?!” I squealed. “That’s a steal! Look, it even has Silas Marner!”
The attendant raised her eyebrows and looked surprised, “You actually like that book? Most people don’t.”
Well, y’all know I’m definitely not like “most people”, but I’m still unsure why more readers don’t enjoy Silas Marner. I know some are displeased that William Dane and the others who wronged Silas never get what’s coming to them (at least you never hear about it), but to me that’s part of the beauty of the book. Real life doesn’t always have closure; sometimes we don’t get to see the rest of the story or justice enacted, but there can still be forgiveness and healing.
I think my favorite character was probably Dolly Winthrop, a village woman who befriends Silas and teaches him how to care for Eppie. She often offers advice to Silas, but always in a gentle, humble way that never sounds “preachy”. If I had to take a guess I would venture that Dolly experienced some deep sorrow in her life also, and that’s why she’s able to relate so well to Silas. My one complaint with the book is that’s it’s rather short. If it had been longer maybe the other characters could have been more developed and Dolly’s past could have been explored deeper.
Although on the surface the story seems simple, George Eliot (pen name for Mary Ann Evans) entwines deep philosophical points that will cause you to pause, reflect, and sympathize with the characters. Why do bad things happen? Does God really have a plan for our lives? You may finish the book itself quickly, but it will leave you pondering long after you read the last chapter.
Book: Silas Marner
Author: George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
Publish date: 1861
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Finish date: November 2014
Book list number: 7 out of 205
The sense of security more frequently springs from habit than from conviction.
‘But there’s this to be thought on Eppie: things will change, whether we like it or no; things won’t go on for a long while just as they are and no difference.’
‘Everything comes to light, Nancy, sooner or later. When God Almighty wills it, our secrets are found out.’
‘eh, there’s trouble i’ this world, and there’s things as we can niver make out the rights on. And all as we’ve got to do is to trusten, Master Marner – to do the right things as fur as we know, and to trusten.’
‘Ah, but that ‘ud ha’ been hard,’ said Silas, in an under-tone; ‘it ‘ud ha’ been hard to trusten then.’
‘And so it would,’ said Dolly, almost with compunction; ‘them things are easier said nor done…’
‘When a man turns a blessing from his door, it falls to them as take it in.’
‘I shall never know whether they got at the truth o’ the robbery…It’s dark to me, Mrs. Winthrop, that is; I doubt it’ll be dark to the last.’
‘Well, yes, Master Marner,’ said Dolly…’I doubt it may. It’s the will o’ Them above as a many things should be dark to us; but there’s some things as I’ve never felt i’ the dark about…You were hard done by that once, Master Marner, and it seems as you’ll never know the rights of it; but that doesn’t hinder there being a rights…’
In old days there were angels who came and took men my the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s.
-The Farming Daughter