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The Triangular Silas Marner

The Triangular Silas Marner

As a result of betrayal, Silas Marner of George Eliot’s so titled novel becomes a man in body without incurring any of the duties normally associated with nineteenth century working class adults. Eliot creates these unusual circumstances by framing our title-hero so it appears to his comrades that he has stolen money. Thereby, she effectively rejects innocent Marner from his community and causes him to lose his fiancé. At this pivotal moment in Marner’s life, just as he is about to assume fully the role of a man, depended upon as such by his neighbors, future wife and probable children, he is excised and does not successfully complete the transformation. Accordingly, he moves on to a new place, Raveloe, with the same carefree lack of responsibility as a boy, who is clearly unable to act like the man he seems he should be.

By denying Marner the possibility of a traditional family from the start, Eliot immediately brings forward the question of family values. A question that she answers in the course of her novel. Jeff Nunokawa, in his essay The Miser’s Two Bodies: Silas Marner and the Sexual Possibilities of the Commodity, claims that Eliot “simply” shows “support for family values” (Nunokawa 273), and that she “encourages” them through her narrative (Nunokawa 290). As evidence, he cites quotations from the text that paint, as he puts it, “men [living] without women… in a barren region” (Nunokawa 273). Adeptly, he points to Eliot’s line, “The maiden was lost… and then what was left to them?'” (Nunokawa 273). Furthermore, Nunokawa goes on to label the moral implications of the novel as those of a “blunt dichotomy,” saying that Eliot hands her reader “the …

… middle of paper …

… for it is the middle ground between its own two opposites, which include the possibilities of not having a family at all and going with the one you are biologically given. Silas Marner is not a tale of black and white, right and wrong, it is more complex and aims to depict at least three angles — if not more that I have, as of yet, failed to unravel.


Carroll, David, “Reversing the Oracles of Religion,” Casebook Series on George Eliot, Ed. R. P. Draper. London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1977.

Cave, Terence, “Introduction to Oxford World Classic’s Silas Marner” (see following entry for details.)

Eliot, George. Silas Marner. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Nunokawa, Jeff, “The Miser’s Two Bodies: Silas Marner and the Sexual Possibilities of the Commodity,” Victorian Studies, 1993, Spring, v. 36. pp. 273-390.

Relationship between Greeks and Gods in Hippolytus

Relationship between Greeks and Gods in Hippolytus

The play Hippolytus by the Greek playwright Euripides is one which

explores classical Greek religion. Throughout the play, the influence

of the gods on the actions of the characters is evident, especially when

Aphrodite affects the actions of Phaedra. Also central to the plot is

the god-god interactions between Artemis and Aphrodite. In this essay,

I hope to provide answers to how the actions of Hippolytus and Phaedra

relate to the gods, whether or not the characters concern themselves

with the reaction of the gods to their behavior, what the characters

expect from the gods, how the gods treat the humans, and whether or not

the gods gain anything from making the humans suffer.

Before we can discuss the play, however, a few terms need to be

defined. Most important would be the nature of the gods. They have

divine powers, but what exactly makes the Greek gods unique should be

explored. The Greek gods, since they are anthropomorphic, have many of

the same characteristics as humans. One characteristic of the gods

which is apparent is jealousy. Aphrodite seems to be jealous of Artemis

because Hippolytus worships Artemis as the greatest of all gods, while

he tends to shy away from worshipping Aphrodite (10-16). This is

important because it sets in motion the actions of the play when

Aphrodite decides to get revenge on Hippolytus. The divine relationship

between the gods is a bit different, however. Over the course of the

play, Artemis does not interfere in the actions of Aphrodite, which

shows that the gods, while divine, do have restrictions; in this case,

it shows the gods cannot interfere with each other. (1328-1330) The

gods are sometimes evil and revengeful, though, as can seen by what

Artemis has to say about Aphrodite: “I’ll wait till she loves a mortal

next time, and with this hand – with these unerring arrows I’ll punish

him.” (1420-1422)

The relationship of mankind and the gods also needs to be discussed.

This relationship seems to be a sort of give-and-take relationship, in

part. The Greeks believed that if they gave to the gods, through prayer

and sacrifices, that the gods would help them out. This is especially

true of Hippolytus and his almost excessive worship of Artemis. Also,

Theseus praying to his father Poseidon is another example of this, only

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