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Although set in the heart of rural England, in a place still untouched by industrial development or social upheaval, Silas Marner is no idyllic country tale. Eliot depicts village life good and bad: Silas's suspicious neighbours are far from perfect and both the squire's sons are deeply flawed characters. The hero himself is a naive individual and - in his unhappiness - becomes a miser. But the long suffering Silas finds new meaning to life through the love for an orphaned child, and finally this gentle moral fable has a happy ending. 1. THE SOLITARY WEAVER. Silas Marner, a linen-weaver, lives alone in a cottage outside the Midland village of Raveloe. His neighbours regard him with suspicion: not only is he a newcomer, he is decidedly strange looking. But Silas is a victim, not a threat. Before settling in Raveloe, he lived in a northern town where he was a member of a religious sect. His seemingly devout 'friend', William Dane, accused him of theft and produced false evidence. Silas lost his fiancee and had to leave his home. In Raveloe, Silas slowly amasses the gold he earns from weaving. 2. THE SQUIRE'S SON. Squire Cass, a hard-drinking boor, has neglected the upbringing of his sons. The younger, Dunsey, is interested only in betting and drinking and is despised by all. The elder, Godfrey, is a popular young man and is in love with Nancy Lammeter, his beautiful neighbour. Despite this, he is in trouble: he has secretly married Molly Farren, an opium addict, and dare not confess to his father. In vain, Godfrey demands back money he has given his brother. Then Dunsey has an idea: he will extort money from the weaver Silas. He goes to Silas's cottage. Finding it empty, he searches for and steals the hidden gold, before disappearing into the night. 3. A SHOCKING LOSS. Returning to his cottage, Silas looks for his gold and finds it gone. He searches in vain and then runs to the local inn. The Rainbow, to look for the thief. His dramatic entrance, to a place he has scarcely visited, causes a sensation. He accepts the villagers' help and goes to report his loss to the constable. Meanwhile, Godfrey, returning from a party where he has seen Nancy, considers telling his father the truth. 4. CONFRONTATION. Godfrey confesses to his father that he has taken AGBP100 of rent due to him and passed it on to Dunsey. Enraged, Cass demands to see Dunsey but, as he is not to be found, berates Godfrey also asking why he will not propose to Nancy. Embarrassed, Godfrey does not revel the real reason but promises to reform. Meanwhile, no trace is found of the thief and Silas sinks into despair. On New Year's Eve, Molly, on her way to the Casses' house to expose Godfrey, collapses in the snow under the effects of opium. Her baby toddles of towards a light - that coming from Silas's cottage. Entering, she sits by the fire. 5. AMAZING DISCOVERY. Thinking that the New Year chimes may bring good luck, Silas opens his door but then goes into one of his trances. When he comes to, his short-sighted eyes see a small, golden object by the fire. He thinks his money has been returned, then realises it is a little girl. Going out to see where she has come from, he finds Molly in the snow. With the child in his arms, he rushes to the Casses' house, where a party is in progress. Godfrey, recognising the baby, is privately relieved at the news of Molly's death. Now he is free to marry Nancy. 6. AN UNLIKELY FATHER. Surprisingly everyone by his determination to bring the child up himself, Silas is helped by Dolly Winthrop, who brings bundles of baby clothes and teaches Silas how to change the child. Dolly suggests that the baby should be christened. This is something Silas has never heard of - his sect practised adult baptism - he agrees, and names the child Eppie after his dead baby sister. A new life starts for him as Eppie wins everyone's heart and he finds acceptance in the village society. Godfrey too makes a new start, for he marries Nancy. 7. THE STONE-PITS' SECRET. Sixteen years have passed. Silas, now a regular church-goer, is happy with Eppie. She is in love with Dolly Winthrop's son, Aaron. Eppie remarks on the low level of water in the stone-pits and Silas recalls that drainage work is going on. Meanwhile, Nancy wonders how Godfrey feels about her childlessness and her refusal to adopt Eppie, which he has suggested on several occasions. When Godfrey comes home, he tells her that Dunsey's skeleton, with Silas's gold, has been found in the drained stone-pit. He goes on to confess his first marriage. Nancy forgives him but points out that it is Eppie whom he has really wronged. They decided to offer to adopt Eppie. 8. SILAS VINDICATED. Godfrey and Nancy call on Silas and Eppie, and Godfrey invites Eppie to live with them. She refuses, maintaining her refusal even when he shamefacedly confesses that she is his daughter and implores her to come with him. Unable to deny his fault, Godfrey accepts defeat and returns home Nancy. Silas decides to revisit his home town, hoping his innocence may be proved at last, but when he and Eppie arrive, they discover Lantern Yard is no longer there. The following spring Eppie and Aaron are married and happily set up home with SilasVis mere
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