Silas Marner

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The Hearth Symbol Analysis

The Hearth Symbol Icon
Silas Marner’s cottage and his hearth are the setting for several key events in the novel. Marner discovers Eppie on the hearth, sleeping, and at first mistakes her for his lost gold. The cottage and the hearth become the center of Eppie and Marner’s relationship. Eppie refuses Godfrey’s offer to adopt her because she wishes to stay with the father she has grown up with. When Eppie and Aaron marry, they move into Marner’s cottage. The cottage and hearth represent the center of love and family for Eppie and Marner. It is the place where Eppie appears in Marner’s life, a place of warmth and familiarity, and it remains the center of their home throughout the novel.

The Hearth Quotes in Silas Marner

The Silas Marner quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Hearth. 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 12 Quotes

[Silas Marner] was stooping to push his logs together, when, to his blurred vision, it seemed as if there were gold on the floor in front of the hearth. Gold!—his own gold—brought back to him as mysteriously as it had been taken away!

Related Characters: Silas Marner
Related Symbols: Gold, The Hearth
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Silas Marner finds the baby Eppie sleeping on his hearth. The proximity of the sleeping child to the place he used to hide his gold, and the similar color between the gold and the hair of the child leads to his confusion. This reaction shows Marner’s focus on his gold, which he immediately thinks of when confronted with the same color on his hearth. Marner’s mistake strongly links Eppie and the gold in more ways than one, however. In addition to their similarities, and the precious role they play in Marner’s life, both the gold and Eppie disappear and appear without an easily understandable explanation. The child appears “as mysteriously” as the gold was “taken away.” As with the disappearance of the gold, the appearance of Eppie is explained to the reader, but not to Marner. Although it seems unlikely that the child would have been left near Marner’s cottage and would have wandered inside, it is possible. To Marner, however, it seems impossible that this child could have appeared without some influence from a divine power. Therefore, the mysterious nature of the gold's departure and the child's arrival further contributes to Marner’s sense that Eppie has replaced the gold in a spiritual sense. 

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The Hearth Symbol Timeline in Silas Marner

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Hearth appears in Silas Marner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...door, but it swings open before him to reveal a blazing fire in Marner’s inviting hearth. Marner’s dinner is cooking on the fire, and Dunstan wonders if he left for some... (full context)
Chapter 12
Morality Theme Icon
...Marner’s cottage. She wanders inside and falls asleep on an old sack near the warm hearth. (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
...recovering from his trance, Marner felt that no time had passed and, turning to his hearth, he saw, with his poor vision, his gold on the hearth. (full context)
Chapter 16
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
Sixteen years have passed since Silas Marner discovered Eppie asleep on his hearth. The villagers of Raveloe are leaving their Sunday morning church service. Godfrey Cass and his... (full context)
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
Marner watches Eppie as she prepares their Sunday meal at the hearth. He has kept the hearth and never added a grate or oven because it is... (full context)
Chapter 19
Faith Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
...that Eppie might again be changed into the gold after she had appeared on his hearth. The gold holds no power over Marner now, but he worries aloud that if Eppie... (full context)