Silas Marner

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Dolly Winthrop Character Analysis

A village woman who befriends Silas Marner, Dolly is a persistent friend to Marner, and the person to whom he turns for help and advice after he adopts Eppie. Dolly is overflowing with kindness and local wisdom. She frequently admits to how little she knows, and how little any human can known, of divine plans for all people. Dolly is selfless with her time and energy in helping others. She is also a formidable mother to little Aaron and attempts to teach Marner how best to discipline Eppie.

Dolly Winthrop Quotes in Silas Marner

The Silas Marner quotes below are all either spoken by Dolly Winthrop or refer to Dolly Winthrop. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Faith Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Silas Marner published in 1996.
Chapter 21 Quotes

“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, and they're mostly what comes i' the day's work. 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, Master Marner, for all it's dark to you and me.”

Related Characters: Dolly Winthrop (speaker), Silas Marner
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

Marner discusses the changes he saw in Lantern Yard with Dolly Winthrop after he returns to Raveloe. He worries that he will never know whether the truth of his false accusation was uncovered. Mrs. Winthrop comforts Marner by pointing out that there are some things that will never be known to humans, but this shouldn’t impact the things that are certainties in our lives. Mrs. Winthrop speaks of the will of “them above” that keeps humans in the dark. This attributes omniscience to God (or gods), while pointing out that some things will always be mysterious to humans. This view encourages Marner to accept those things he cannot know about or change. On the other hand, Mrs. Winthrop says that she never feels confusion about what “comes in the day’s work.” She knows the things in her daily life and she feels contented with what she knows. This furthers her argument that there is value in accepting the limitations of human knowledge. It is enough to know small-scale things.

Mrs. Winthrop also points out that just because Marner doesn’t know something doesn’t mean that the right thing hasn’t happened in the world. Only “them above” can see and understand the big picture, and “the right thing” may be happening in the big picture even if Marner cannot see and understand how it is happening. Perhaps God has a reason for Marner never discovering the truth about his past in Raveloe, even if this reason isn’t clear to Marner.

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Dolly Winthrop Character Timeline in Silas Marner

The timeline below shows where the character Dolly Winthrop appears in Silas Marner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...Mr. Macey encourages Marner to get a Sunday suit and to start attending church. Mrs. Dolly Winthrop also visits Marner with the purpose of asking him to come to church. While... (full context)
Faith Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
One Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Winthrop brings cakes and her little son Aaron along with her as she goes to visit... (full context)
Faith Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Mrs. Winthrop gives Silas Marner the cakes, which she has inscribed with letters she’s seen in church:... (full context)
Faith Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Mrs. Winthrop tells him that it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf by coming... (full context)
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...respond to her kindness in the only way he knows, by offering Aaron more cake. Dolly Winthrop urges him again to stop working on Sundays and then the pair takes their... (full context)
Chapter 13
Morality Theme Icon
...get Mrs. Winthrop for assistance, as Dr. Kimble heads toward the Stone Pits with Marner. Dolly tells Godfrey he need not come all the way to the cottage with her, but... (full context)
Chapter 14
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...throughout the village advise him on what he must do to care for the girl. Dolly Winthrop is the one whom Marner prefers to take advice from. She talks with Marner... (full context)
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
While Silas Marner appreciates Dolly’s advice, he prefers to do everything he can himself to care for the little girl.... (full context)
Faith Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...to have her christened he names her Hephzibah after his mother and deceased little sister. Dolly says she ought to have a nickname, and Marner decides to call her Eppie. Marner... (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
...a troublesome toddler, but Marner finds he never has the heart to punish her despite Dolly Winthrop’s insistence that some discipline is for her own good. Because Marner will not hit... (full context)
Chapter 16
Morality Theme Icon
...church. Eppie expresses to her father how much she wishes they had a garden like Mrs. Winthrop ’s. Aaron quickly volunteers to dig the garden and to bring some soil and plants... (full context)
Faith Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
...that he has even been able to share the story of his early life with Dolly Winthrop. She is confused and grieved by his account of the drawing of lots that... (full context)
Faith Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
One day, Dolly arrives at Marner’s with the pronouncement that she has had a sudden realization about his... (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
...Eppie wonders and asks about her mother as she grows up because her interactions with Mrs. Winthrop make her believe having a mother must be very wonderful. With Marner as her father,... (full context)
Chapter 21
Faith Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...came to light concerning his innocence and to ask about the ritual of drawing lots. Dolly Winthrop approves of the plan, telling Marner that she hopes he’ll be at ease once... (full context)
Faith Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Upon their return to Raveloe, Marner reports to Dolly Winthrop that the old Lantern Yard has completely vanished. He realizes that he’ll never know... (full context)