Silas Marner began his life in a 'little hidden world known to itself as the church assembly in Lantern Yard. ' Silas was a valuable member of this 'narrow religious sect', who showed great devotion to God and compassion towards his neighbours. However, due to unfair accusations and the betrayal he felt from both God and humanity, the 'light of his faith' was put out, and his trust in mankind was cruelly bruised, thus putting a halt to the philanthropy which he had previously practised. Silas moved to a far off, 'snug', countryside town named Raveloe.
Here, Silas isolated himself from community, and lived a spider like existence; weaving in his loom and only conversing with people when it was necessary for the daily transaction of his business. The devotion Silas had felt towards men and God was replace...
d with a devotion to an inanimate object - his gold, which Silas would draw up each night to bathe in it's 'companionship' and run his fingers thorough what he described as his 'unborn children. ' When Silas' only love in Raveloe (his gold) was stolen, he experienced a great shock and was utterly distraught.
This event however, was linked to the arrival of Eppie, a young girl. Eppie was the reason for Silas' redemption and his chance to be reintegrated with society. Silas selfishness was replaced by selflessness and Silas channelled his dedication, which he had once felt towards his gold, into caring for and bringing up Eppie. This discovery of love and journey to redemption was the ultimate development and growth within him. A "highly thought of' and credulous man, Silas Marner lived an altruistic life of
'belief and love' in Lantern Yard.
Lantern Yard was a tightly knit 'narrow religious sect,' set within sight of the widespread hills. Religion and church was the backbone of their society, and a pious and judgemental view was cast upon those who did not follow the strict Methodist teachings. Within this 'narrow community' Silas Marner was known to be a man of 'exemplary life and ardent faith. ' Silas was an integral and important member of the community and possessed an unshakable faith in both God and mankind. The teachings in Lantern Yard were equally 'obscure' and absolute.
The minister would 'deliver unquestioned doctrine' to the church members, who would be expected to live a life of 'perfect love' and to conform to all the previous traditions as common with Methodism. Just as 'the little child knows nothing of parental love, but only knows one face and one lap, towards which it stretches its arms for refuge and nurture,' Silas' life in Lantern Yard was very sheltered and secluded, and as he had had no experience of life elsewhere, never questioned what he was told.
Due to Silas' occupation as a weaver, he did not earn immense sums of money, but we are told that what he did earn, he donated to objects of charity or piety, showing both Silas' benevolence towards humanity, but also his naivety and 'impressible' nature, as he had been told that money was the sign of 'earthly good and an immediate object of toil. ' This was the down side to Silas' good-willed and trusting nature.
He was inexperienced and possessed a 'defenceless self-doubting nature,' which made him reliant and dependent on others. He
found independent thought challenging, and preferred it when he was with his best friend and closest companion William Dane, who he could listen to for hours in 'longing wonder. ' Silas' defenceless deer like gaze' is contrasted to Dane's look of 'self complacent suppression of inner triumph,' which foreshadows events that may be the result of this friendship.
Silas regarded William Dane with utmost respect, and was proud of his friend, however William became jealous of Silas because he was engaged to Sarah (a servant whom William had feelings for) and also as Silas was highly respected by other members of their religious 'sect' because of his altruistic life and his fits, which to the simple minds of the community members was seen as a sign of 'divine intervention.
There are many hints throughout this chapter which foreshadow what William will eventually do to Silas for example when Dane indicated that the cataleptic fits that Silas experiences seem more like a 'visitation of Satan than a proof of divine favour. ' Silas 'felt no resentment only pain' at what his closest companion thought of him, but little did he know that this was the jealousy within William speaking and attempting to blacken the name of Silas Marner. The betrayal which was to be a turning point in Silas' life occurred during one of his trances, whilst Silas was taking care of the dying deacon.
Silas was watching over the deacon when he slipped into one of his trances, during which Dane stole the church money from the deacon's bedside and framed Silas for doing so by placing Silas' knife in the bureau from where he had removed the
money. This was a time where Silas' absolute faith in God is revealed. Instead of pleading for his innocence, Silas simply states 'God will clear me,' placing his fate completely in the hands of God, with complete assurance that God will deliver him. In Lantern Yard it was common practice to draw lots to determine the fate of the accused.
Suddenly it was irrelevant to the villagers in Lantern Yard that Silas was a pure and holy man who they have 'never known to tell a lie. ' The lots were drawn in the church where Silas 'knelt with his brethren relying on his own innocence being certified by immediate divine intervention. ' However, when the lots were drawn they declared that Silas Marner was guilty. Silas was shocked and grief stricken - his god whom he had devotedly trusted in had forsaken him and the people he had grown up with had betrayed him.
The reader would think that Silas would question the validity of the accusation however this was an 'effort of independent thought such as he had never known' which shows that Silas was utterly dependant on this community and being cut off from them was devastating for him Amidst his despair, Silas realised that it was William who had framed him and this destroyed any remaining faith he held and he announced to the congregation, telling them that he believed there was 'no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies that bears witness against the innocent..
Ultimately William had succeeded in blackening the name of Silas Marner, as a result of which Silas' fianci?? e broke off their engagement
and later married Dane. Many of Silas' early experiences in Lantern Yard could be linked to events in George Eliot's life. Eliot left church when she was a young women because she believed that the church was 'intolerant and unforgiving. ' The church was very unforgiving towards Silas, and so like Eliot, he too left church.
Eliot family did not agree with her decision to leave the church and were hostile towards her because of that. Eliot had always got on well with her father, but he too disapproved that she had left the church. As Eliot fought for his affections, just like Silas did with Dane, her father pushed her further away. This relationship and the may be linked to Silas' relationship with William Dane in the novel, and the feelings of hurt Silas experiences could. Due to the misjudgement and treachery which Silas had experienced he left Lantern Yard.
In a time when people never left the town they were born in, this was a 'course as dark and dubious as a balloon journey' but shows that despite what has happened to him, Silas is still quite strong as he was brave enough to take this journey. Silas travelled to a 'far off country' called Raveloe with fresh ideas on life itself. He believed that 'nothing could be more unlike his native town' and began his new soulless, godless and isolated life in Raveloe. Raveloe lay in the 'rich central plain' and was an area where one could 'farm quite badly at their ease' and still live in a 'rollicking fashion and keep a jolly Christmas and Eastertide.
In fact the whole of the village was
very laid back and relaxed; a complete contrast to the stiff and strict lifestyle in Lantern Yard. We are told that there were 'orchards looking lazy with neglected plenty; the large church in the wide church yard which men gazed at loungeingly at their own doors during service time. ' This highlights the biggest difference between the two communities in which Silas has lived; the lazy and relaxed attitude to both life and religion in Raveloe contrasted to the religious and judgemental lifestyle upheld in Lantern Yard.
The main meeting place in the village was not the church like it had been in Lantern Yard, but the village pub - the Rainbow, which was frequented by nearly all the villagers - except Silas. Eliot herself had a yearning for the simple, honest village life which she did not experience herself when she wrote the book, but that she remembered from her childhood. The relaxed countryside village of Raveloe could have been a fantasy place for George Eliot. A great change took place within Silas' character because of his experiences in Lantern Yard.
He became a misanthropic and lonely person who made no attempt to integrate himself into the community. Because of this the people in Raveloe did not regard him as a respected and valued member of society like he had been in Lantern Yard, but looked upon him with fear and mistrust. This is partly due to an incident which occurred in the first few years of his life in Raveloe. A woman named Sally Oates was ill with a disease which Silas recalled how to treat. He bought Sally something to 'ease her,' an act
which reminded him of his past life.
The villagers were surprised at this and believed that Silas had special powers and pestered him to perform spells and charms. Silas however had 'never known an impulse towards falsity' told the villagers that he was not the powerful spell maker which they believed he was, and refused to perform any charms for them. The people in Raveloe however thought that Silas was simply doing this out of 'ill-will' and this' heightened the repulsion between him and his neighbours, and made his isolation more complete. '
We are also told that Silas was offered money to perform spells but that 'money ..... as no temptation to him. ' This is ironic when considering what happens later in the novel. Isolated and alone, Silas 'clung with all the forces of nature to his work,' often working for sixteen hours a day only breaking off for meals. His 'face and figure shrank and bent themselves into a constant mechanical relation to the objects of life' because he spent so many hours bowed over his loom. The loom dehumanises him; he is almost a part of the machine. As a result of Silas' constant weaving, he acquired quite a lot of money.
To him, money was a strange and foreign object as in Lantern Yard it had been regarded as an 'object of toil' and villagers were expected to donate all their money to piety. In Raveloe, 'no man expected a share' of what he earned and Silas was fascinated by the gold. He stored it in bags under his floorboards, and at night after the work was done and his evening meal had
been eaten, Silas would draw up the gold and run the coins with their 'bright faces' through his hands, 'enjoying their companionship. '
As he weaved, Silas thought 'fondly of the guineas that were only half-earned by the work in his loom, as if they had been unborn children. Money became the greatest love in Silas' life and this tells the reader a lot of Silas' character. The fact that he was so devoted to the gold shows Silas' capacity to love, and that although Silas appears to be a mean and unloving person, he still is very affectionate. Silas did not love the money for what he could purchase with it, but instead because of the 'companionship' it gave him, and this tells the reader that although Silas had lost his trust in mankind and his best friend betrayed him, he still longs for friendship.
Another incident in Silas' life which shows his ability to love was when his brown earthenware pot broke on his journey back from the well. This pot was not expensive; however Silas viewed it as a 'precious utensil' which had been his 'companion for twelve years. ' When the pot shattered Silas picked up the now useless pieces of broken pottery and carried them home with 'grief in his heart. ' Eliot uses symbolism to represent how Silas feelings and the love and affections which he channelled into the brown pot show how much he could love a person, despite his exterior.
The second major turning point in Silas' life occurred after fifteen years in Raveloe. Silas made the crucial mistake of leaving his door open when he made a short trip
into the village. For the second time in Silas' life, his trusting nature had proved to be his downfall. Dunstan Cass, the son of the most influential man in Raveloe - Squire Cass was travelling past Silas Marner's house. Dunstan was a mean and nasty man who cared not for other people's feelings but only his own.
He was blackmailing his brother Godfrey by threatening to tell a sworn secret of his (that he was married to a drunken and drug addicted woman) should Godfrey not comply with his requests. Dunstan had forced Godfrey to give him his horse. However, he wasted the value of the horse and was looking for easy money. This is a contrast to the hard earned money of Silas Marner. Dunstan approached the house and to his surprise saw that the door was not locked. He entered the house and searched it, for it was common knowledge in Raveloe that Silas Marner hoarded a great deal of gold.
When Dunstan located the gold, he took it all and left, just before Silas re-entered. When Silas returned home, he was in good spirits because he could eat his supper, and then the 'time of revelry' came when Silas's 'heart warmed over his gold. ' However, when Silas reached his withered hand into the gap in his floor where he hid it, the bags containing the gold were not there. Silas' first reaction was shock and his heart 'leapt violently. ' This was followed by disbelief.
Eliot interrupts the text here as she does frequently in the novel to describe that Silas feels like 'a man falling into deep water who will seek a momentary
footing even on sliding stones. ' Silas searched his whole house, once and then again, not willing himself to accept that the gold was gone. When Silas realised his searching was 'in vain,' he let out a 'wide ringing scream, the cry of desolation. ' Silas next action was to go and sit by his loom, the most comforting thing Silas could thing off.
This shows how much Silas relied on his work, and the pleasure that he drew from weaving as it was his 'strongest assurance of reality. ' Silas knew no reason to continue living, for the gold had been his most precious companion however; the loss of his gold caused one of the most important changes to occur in Silas Marner's life. This incidence was a turning point in Silas's life; this was the first occasion that he was forced to interact with society (for the curing of Sally Oates had been out of choice).
When Silas had collected his thoughts, he realised that he must report his loss. Silas was pondering over the idea of a thief, and as he was suspicious and distrustful of Jem Rodney, Silas thought he was a possible candidate. Silas ran down to the Rainbow, the pub and central meeting place in the village. When the villagers saw him there, they were shocked and thought that they did not see Master Marner, but an 'apparition' of him. Silas gaspingly announced that he had been robbed, and that he suspected Jem Rodney was the one who had stolen him gold.
The way the community reacted to this accusation shows the differences between the towns of Raveloe and Lantern Yard. When
Silas was accused in Lantern Yard for stealing money, the villagers did not rely on their own judgements and knowledge about Silas' character, but instead drew lots to determine his fate. This shows their strict methods were even more important to the villagers than their own community. In contrast, the people of Raveloe stood by Jem when he was accused, showing that community is very important to the villagers in Raveloe.
Silas's decision to inform the Raveloe villagers of his loss let them know that he was not the callous man they pictured him to be. The community were reassured when they realised that 'folks who had the devil in 'em were not likely to be so mushed. ' The fact that Silas was so distraught over the loss of his gold, and the thought that he may never be reunited with it caused the villagers to sympathise with him and believe that the 'avoidance of his neighbours, which had before been referred to as his ill - ill to a probable addiction to worse company, was now considered mere craziness.
Unconsciously there was a growth within Silas; due to the loss of his gold, he made contact with people to whom he had never conversed with before, and this made their thoughts concerning Silas 'change to a kindlier feeling. ' Silas' misfortune 'bought him uppermost in the memory of housekeepers. ' Dolly Winthrop was one of these compassionate housewives, and visited Silas at the stone pits one day with her son Aaron. Dolly is a very maternal and 'comfortable' woman who is a pillar of society and the opposite of isolated Silas.
She spoke to Silas about
the loss of his gold and was the first person Silas discussed his previous life with. She brought a cake, which was the first gift from a person in Raveloe; a sign of the changing relationship however Silas, who was unaccustomed to receiving gifts, did not know how to react. Dolly also encouraged Silas to go to church, not so that he would acquire a 'simple Raveloe theology' like her, but so that he could become a part of the community.
The fact that Dolly visited Silas shows a lot about how the people of Raveloe have changed their opinions about him since he lost his gold, and are not afraid of him anymore. We can also learn a lot about Silas' state of mind from her visit. We know that his outlook on life has changed since the stealing of his gold because his 'heart had been a locked casket with treasure inside, but now the casket was empty and the lock was broken,' showing that Silas feels he is nothing without his gold.
Silas feels reliant on other people for the first time since his departure from Lantern Yard ('a faint consciousness of dependence on their good will. ') but he is still finding it difficult to communicate with people and he was 'so unaccustomed to talk beyond the brief questions and answers necessary for the transaction of his simple business. ' Although most people would find the presence of others comforting at a time like this, Silas was 'relieved when Dolly had gone so that he might weave and moan at his ease,' which shows that Silas is still most comfortable when he is
However, there is a small sign that the loss of his gold has had a positive impact on him, as when the doorbell went he 'showed no impatience like he once would have done. ' On New Year's Eve, following the instructions of Dolly, Silas left his door open to welcome in the new year, in the hope that his would bring him good fortune and return his gold. However, as Silas was standing at the open door, he fell into one of his cataleptic fits. Throughout the novel, Eliot uses the fits that Silas has to signify that something important is going to happen, and to encourage the reader to take note.
This incident is no exception. During this outward stupor a child entered his home. As Silas returned to consciousness, he set eyes upon the golden ringlets of the young girl who had settled herself in front of the fire. To Silas squinted and narrow eyes, the ringlets resembled his gold, thus showing the reader that Silas still has affectionate longings for his money. However, the loss of his gold is linked to the arrival of the child, as Silas had opened his door in the hope that the good luck of the New Year would return his gold, but in his place, as if by Providence, a child had been sent.
Silas' first assumption was that the girl was his 'little sister whom he had carried about in his arms for a year before she died. ' This was the first of many times to come that this young girl would reawaken lost memories in Silas and cause him to think happily about his
past. The little girl (whom Silas gradually named Eppie after his mother) was the reason for the utmost development in Silas Marner's character and from the moment in which she entered Silas' life, she bought out the affection and love that Silas had tried to conceal and hold back.
Silas showed great fondness for Eppie from the start. When she awoke, he fed her porridge and brown sugar which he had 'refrained from using for himself. ' This shows that Silas almost automatically ceased to be the selfish, gluttonous man that betrayal had caused him to become. Silas was very protective of the child (perhaps because he had been betrayed and did not want to betray the infant which he held) and when he travelled to the Red House to announce that he had found the mother of the child dead in the snow, he would not allow any of the other women to hold Eppie.
He simply declared "it's a lone thing -and I'm a lone thing," hence letting everyone know that he intended to keep the child 'till anyone shows they've a right to take her away. ' The reader knows that the only person who has a claim on the child is Godfrey Cass. Godfrey however is desperately trying to cover up his secret marriage and will not acknowledge his daughter. At first, Silas adopting Eppie was a great surprise to the people of Raveloe, especially the women, who thought that Silas would find it hard to bring up a young girl.
However, gradually this felling of shock changed to a feeling of admiration towards Silas for his dedication. In order for Eppie to live
a normal and happy life, Silas was required to interact with the community. The once isolated and unsociable miser's opinion on this was that he would do 'everything as can be done for the child. ' People like Dolly Winthrop gave Silas help with the child, and helped bring him into the community. This brought the love and trust that had previously been shattered in Silas' soul, and he began to realise what was important in life, and the 'worship of his gold' soon became a distant memory.
The child 'created fresh and fresh links between his life and the lives from which he had hitherto shrunk continually into narrower isolation. ' Religion also returned to his life, although Raveloe religion was bright, relaxed and full of love. Silas was 'quite unable, by any means of what he heard of saw, to identify Raveloe religion with his old faith,' and attended church for 'the good of the child. ' Silas even had Eppie baptised to complete both Eppie's and his own incorporation with society. Silas cherishes and loves Eppie with all the force of his affections.
He would often interrupt his work to spend time with her and care for her. An example which shows how much Silas was devoted to Eppie was when she ran away from the stone pits when she was only very young. Silas was distraught by the 'worst fear that could have befallen him' Silas searched with dread in his heart, until he found his treasured daughter. When he reached her, he knew that she deserved 'severe treatment' but Silas was overcome with 'convulsive joy at finding his treasure again, that he
could do nothing but snatch her up and smother her in half-sobbing kisses.
As Eppie grew older, the love which Silas had for her became mutual and they did everything together. Silas became less myopic, both in vision and opinion, and as Eppie's 'mind was growing in knowledge; his mind was growing into memory. ' His life along with Eppie's was 'unfolding too,' and the two of them lived a 'happy animal life 'at the stone pits. When Eppie first came to Silas, he was immediately touched by her, but he would have considered giving her up to a person who could care for her better than himself.
He loved, trusted, respected and admired her and when Godfrey Cass came to their home and declared that he was Eppie's biological father and would like to adopt her, Silas was devastated. However, Silas loved Eppie so strongly that he was prepared to give her up for her happiness and well-being, thus proving that Silas was no longer the greedy and self-centred man which he had previously been as he was ready to give up what he held dear without thinking how it would affect his life.
Eppie's love for Silas was unwavering and she replied to the invitation to live with the Casses with conviction and said "I can't leave my father, nor own anybody nearer him. " Eppie' feelings towards Silas were strengthened and she had even more respect for him for his willingness to let her go to Godfrey should she have wished to. The love which Eppie feels for Silas is like that which Eliot had for her own father, and like Eppie, she never left
her father even though he attempted to disown her. It is clear at the end of the novel that Godfrey Cass' story is linked to that of Silas Marner.
Where Marner's life was initially blighted by the lies told against him, Godfrey's life is pleasant and prosperous because he succeeds in keeping his secret marriage hidden. However, when 'everything comes to light,' Godfrey realises that he would have been better off if he had been honest, in comparison to Silas, whose life has thrived because of the lies told against him. Eliot wants readers to understand that 'when a man turns a blessing away from his door, it falls to them who take it in' and that, as saying has it 'honesty is the best policy. The growing love between Silas and Eppie caused Silas to change from a lonely mistrusting miser to a gentle and loving father. Just as Eppie realises how much she owes Silas, Silas knows that he owes Eppie (or the Providence that provided her) a lot as she has provided him with friendship and love and opportunities to befriend others also.
Due to Eppie, Silas feels a 'unity between his past and present life' and he begins to 'ponder over the elements of his old faith and blend them in with his new impressions. The sense of 'presiding goodness and human trust with which came pure peace and joy had given him a dim impression that there had been some error, some mistake which had thrown that dark shadow over his best years. ' Silas began to 'open his mind' to Dolly Winthrop about what happened to him in Lantern Yard and
his previous faith. This proves that Silas had at last given up attempting to be an acquaintance of inanimate objects, and has finally regained his trust in mankind.
Silas and Dolly pondered over why this happened, and Dolly tells Silas that "Them above has got a good deal tenderer heart nor what I've got - for I can't be anyways better nor Them as made me, and if anything looks hard to me it's because there's many thing's I don't know on" and that the just and fair thing was not done by Silas in Lantern Yard because "Them above was at the making on us, and knows better and has a better will. " In explanation, Dolly believes that Silas' departure from Lantern Yard was necessary for him to live the full and happy life that he lives now.
When Silas' gold was returned to him (it was found in the stone pits with the skeleton of Dunstan alongside it) Silas feels the money has 'no hold of him now' and only wants it so that it can benefit Eppie. This is a complete contrast to the miserly man at the beginning of his time in Raveloe. The discovery of the gold helps Silas to understand what happened to him and he tells Eppie "If you hadn't been sent to save me, I should ha' gone to my grave in my misery. The money was taken from me in time; and you see it's been kept - kept till it was wanted for you. It's wonderful - our life is wonderful.
The money has no place in Silas' heart anymore, and he counts it all as loss.
Towards the end of the novel, Silas decides it is time to face his past and return to Lantern Yard to clear his name. He opts to take Eppie with him and the two of them set off to find Silas' 'old country. ' When they arrive it is very different to how Silas has remembered it. It was a 'dark ugly place' which was home to people with 'sallow begrimed faces. ' Silas couldn't have thought that 'any folks lived in this way' but that is because he is unaccustomed to what is happening to the world outside of Raveloe.
To Silas' shock, Lantern Yard has been replaced by a large factory in this 'great manufacturing town as the result of the Industrial Revolution. As Raveloe was 'aloof from the Industrial Revolution' Silas was stunned and disappointed that he could not clear his name, but not saddened for he finally realised that there were reasons, reasons that are 'dark to him,' for his departure from Lantern Yard that have caused his life to span out the way it has and that in the end, he has found true happiness, happiness which he could never have found in Lantern Yard.
This return to Lantern Yard is the final breaking of the link between his old and new life. Eliot wrote this novel in a circular structure, and like may of her other novels; the chapter where Silas returns to Lantern Yard reflects the great changes of Victorian society moved from the countryside to towns. Silas' experiences in life were similar to those of George Eliot. She too was an outcast in society - because she left church,
as she felt it was 'intolerant and unforgiving. She lived in isolation with various men, condemned by society and too afraid to leave her house for fear of what might happen to her.
However, through the love of another human being, just like Silas experienced, Eliot was prompted to write. Her novels and writing caused her to become a member of the community again, and she was accepted - in a way similar to Silas. At the end of the novel, Eppie marries Aaron Winthrop as a final sign of their integration into the community of Raveloe. 'Happily the sun shone more brightly than usual,' - a stark contrast to the 'dark ugly place' that Lantern Yard had become.
As Silas and the other villagers reflect on the way Silas' 'strange history' and peculiar journey through life, the birds sing and the 'flowers shine with answering gladness' as a perfect fairytale ending to the story of Silas Marner. The moral of this story is that all loss can be redeemed through love and this message is embodied in the experiences of Silas Marner. The community of Lantern Yard caused Silas to become a man with a 'withered and shrunken life' due to the betrayal Silas experiences from both God and mankind.
When he arrived in Raveloe, the community was suspicious to start with, but due to the loss of his gold, he gradually became an integral. When Eppie arrived in his life the love which Silas had for her and the joy which she brought rekindled feelings in Silas, and when Eppie married into the community, this sealed their inclusion into society. The three major turning points in
his life (being betrayed by God and mankind, the loss of his gold and the arrival of Eppie) caused Silas to experience the good and bad in life.
These experiences ultimately made Marner a stronger person than the 'self-doubting' man we are first introduced to in Lantern Yard, both physically and mentally. This allowed Silas to finally open his heart to Dolly and discuss his previous traumatic life, and after Silas had returned to Lantern Yard to confront his past and seen what hit had become, they collectively reached the decision that there were reasons for what happened - reason which were 'dark' to the both of them, but which they knew were necessary for Silas to psychologically grow and to experience life in all its fullness like he did with the help of Eppie.
At long last, Silas could change his outlook on life and see that there was 'good in this world. ' The love which Silas had for people - especially Eppie, was far greater than his infatuation with gold, and the redemptive power of love which was revealed to him through and by Eppie, saved him from becoming an embittered miserly man until his dying day.
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