Silas Marner describes nearly thirty years of Silas Marner’s life, in which the protagonist loses his faith in God and in human society, and then slowly regains his faith years later when he adopts a loving orphan girl named Eppie. Silas Marner’s early faith is distinctly different from the faith he regains in later years. As a young man, Marner lives in Lantern Yard and his faith depends on the community and worship there. Marner believes in an unseen, benevolent God and in following only those practices that reflect faith in this God. Marner has acquired some knowledge of herbal remedies from his mother, but he refrains from using these, believing that prayer, without medicine, is a sufficient remedy. Marner loses his faith in a benevolent God when his friend William Dane falsely accuses him of stealing church funds. Upon being accused, Marner believes God will reveal his innocence, but when the church draws lots to make a decision, the lots declare his guilt. Marner lashes out at William Dane, accusing him of framing him, and accusing God of being a God of lies.
After this blasphemy, Marner moves to the simple village of Raveloe where he withdraws from his neighbors, hoarding and coveting his money, disenchanted with all human relationships. When Marner discovers Eppie, an orphan who wanders into his home, he cares for her and raises her. Through his love for her, Marner rediscovers an interest in human connection. As he seeks what is the best for Eppie, he again attends church and he makes friends in Raveloe. Marner again gathers medicinal herbs as he once enjoyed doing, and he feels light return to his life through the love Eppie has for him.
Faith Quotes in Silas Marner
“…there is no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies, that bears witness against the innocent.”
His life had reduced itself to the functions of weaving and hoarding, without any contemplation of an end towards which the functions tended. The same sort of process has perhaps been undergone by wiser men, when they have been cut off from faith and love—only, instead of a loom and a heap of guineas, they have had some erudite research, some ingenious project, or some well-knit theory.
Was it a thief who had taken the bags? Or was it a cruel power that no hands could reach, which had delighted in making him [Silas Marner] a second time desolate?
Favourable Chance, I fancy, is the god of all men who follow their own devices instead of obeying a law they believe in. Let even a polished man of these days get into a position he is ashamed to avow, and his mind will be bent on all the possible issues that may deliver him from the calculable results of that position.
Formerly, his [Silas Marner’s] heart had been as a locked casket with its treasure inside; but now the casket was empty, and the lock was broken. Left groping in darkness, with his prop utterly gone, Silas had inevitably a sense, though a dull and half-despairing one, that if any help came to him it must come from without; and there was a slight stirring of expectation at the sight of his fellow-men, a faint consciousness of dependence on their goodwill.
“…the little child had come to link him [Silas Marner] once more with the whole world.”
By seeking what was needful for Eppie, by sharing the effect that everything produced on her, he [Silas Marner] had himself come to appropriate the forms of custom and belief which were the mould of Raveloe life; and as, with reawakening sensibilities, memory also reawakened, he had begun to ponder over the elements of his old faith, and blend them with his new impressions, till he recovered a consciousness of unity between his past and present.
“Everything comes to light, Nancy, sooner or later. When God Almighty wills it, our secrets are found out.”
“…then, sir, why didn't you say so sixteen year ago, and claim her before I'd come to love her, i'stead o' coming to take her from me now, when you might as well take the heart out o' my body? God gave her to me because you turned your back upon her, and He looks upon her as mine: you've no right to her! When a man turns a blessing from his door, it falls to them as take it in.”
“It's gone, child," he [Silas Marner] said, at last, in strong agitation—“Lantern Yard's gone. It must ha' been here, because here's the house with the o'erhanging window—I know that—it's just the same; but they've made this new opening; and see that big factory! It's all gone—chapel and all.”
“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.”
“Since the time the child was sent to me and I've come to love her as myself, I've had light enough to trusten by; and now she says she'll never leave me, I think I shall trusten till I die.”
“…he [Silas Marner had brought a blessing on himself by acting like a father to a lone motherless child.”