‘Silas Marner’ and Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’
‘Silas Marner’ and Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’

‘Silas Marner’ and Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’

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  • Published: October 27, 2017
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Although George Eliot and Harper Lee lived a century apart, growing up in different communities, with their minds informed by different experiences and intellectual training, their works, ‘Silas Marner’ and ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ are strikingly similar in their thematic concerns. Both novels address topics of fundamental importance even in our own society. It is interesting to compare these authors’ views of alienation and prejudice, in what soil they flourish and how they can be overcome.In considering the treatment of alienation and prejudice within the context of these two books, one must first explore what is meant by each of these terms.

Alienation is a modern day term, (it is actually 200 years old and even used by Karl Marx); it is used to explain how a person can become hostile or feel estranged from society or friends. However, in exploring an abstract concept you have to find ways of perceiving them in reality.To do this you must learn to recognise signs and symptoms, which illustrate this phenomenon. Typical examples are being isolated from the community, by not feeling part of it, as well as not being seen as part of it, not being included in society’ or living alone. These examples can be simply interpreted as not relating with people is any way or form. Related to alienation, but definitely different from it is the phenomenon of prejudice.

This concept is preconceived opinion, resulting in a bias to or against, a person or group. Examples of prejudice are: racism, seeing people as different because of their skin colour; sexism, treating people differ

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ently because of their gender; religious bias, regarding certain religions as “strange” and possibly persecuting the believers of the religion; and disability, which is treating people with suspicion because they have a disability.These two issues (alienation and prejudice) appear throughout both books to very different people, and is brought upon them in different ways. “Silas Marner” by George Eliot Silas Marner is “The Weaver of Raveloe” as George Eliot first described him. Silas is introduced in the book as a young man, exemplary of ardent faith. He is a simple, trusting, self-doubting ordinary workingman with a fervent belief in God and his fellow man.

Due to his immense physical work, as a weaver, he has a crooked structure.He has a pale face, which creates the look of illness, and is referred to as having a “deer like gaze”, this may indicate possible vulnerability. Despite this, the most unusual feature about Silas is his catalepsy. Different people interpreted this in different ways.

It was either seen as further strangeness, that it may indicate the influence of Satan or as a special sign of grace from god. It was only Dane who saw this as a bad omen. It claimed “Marner’s” fit was a vision, which is untrue, and he possibly wants to try and make money out of it.His catalepsy is a mysterious rigidity of consciousness. However this pallid young man, with prominent, short sighted protuberant brown eyes, whose appearance once would have no affect on people of average culture and experience, but for the narrow minded ignorance of the

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people of Raveloe it had mysterious peculiarities which corresponded with the exceptional nature of his occupation, and from this they were unable to accept it as benign.Silas’ alienation is quite individual; he was firstly alienated in Lantern yard, where he belonged to a” narrow religious sect,” probably Congregation, but this pious man soon lost his faith in God and human beings, turning his back on society, due to being falsely accused.

This is rather ambiguous as Silas had been falsely accused, and because his trust in God was so great, he believed that God would prove him innocent. However he was found guilty, and because of this, God is falsely accused as Silas declared, “There is no God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies, that bears witness against the innocent? These cruel twists of evil and fate at lantern yard have meddled with the life of an innocent man. George Eliot explains about Silas’s rather sad past life, in LanternYard, and how he became alienated there.Eliot explains about Lantern Yard being an urban mysterious place, which is like a little hidden world.

He had to leave his home after being cruelly betrayed by his closest friend William Dane. Dane is a malign, twisted man, but is regarded by the community as “a shining instance of youthful piety”. Despite this he is very arrogant, “to be so dazzled by his own light as to hold himself wiser than his teachers. Dane seeks to destroy the qualities in Silas which shine out.

Dane was extremely jealous of Silas and saw as bete-noire. Silas leaves Lantern Yard “with that despair in his soul” and begins a new life in Raveloe. Raveloe was a representation of rural England, and is untouched by industrialisation, “the old echoes lingered undrowned by new voices. ” It is situated in a rich central plain of England, whose beauty is there for all to enjoy. The villagers are described as simple, homely, narrow-minded people, and the community is bound together such that everyone knows everyone else.Silas lived in a cottage on the outskirts of the village.

The villagers of Raveloe regarded him with great suspicion and believed him to be a strange, mystical character, who is a pariah from society. They went by the saying, “How was a man to be explained if you didn’t know his mother or father. ” The look upon Silas with suspicion for of number of reasons, his trade, the fact that Silas is a weaver, they did not believe in this profession. A reason they could not interoperate was why Silas had rejected their company, “He invited no comer to step across his doorstep, and he never strode into the village to drink a pint at the Rainbow.

This act was regarded as a strange act, as the Rainbow was the spirit of the village, and to reject it was to reject life in rural England. The men of the village were quite anxious of him, as they find out about when Jem Rodney meets Silas whilst he is having a fit. Jem says he saw that, “Marner’s eyes were

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