1. Why do you think the author chose "Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe" as her title? (As opposed, say, to The Fate of Godfrey Cass, Silas and the Gold Coins, etc.) Why do you think Eliot selected a weaver as the protagonist of her tale? (respectable and familiar form of labor, in this case pre-industrial)
2. What characterizes the narrator's account of the past? (little access to wider world, slowness) What seems the narrator's point in her remarks at the opening of the first chapter on the mindset of early nineteenth-century uneducated people? (23)
3. How would you describe her tone in general? Are her efforts to create empathy and understanding entirely successful?
4. What happens in this chapter? What do you think are the narrator's views of Silas's religion? Which of their practices does she find objectionable?
5. Which religious groups of the period may she have in mind? Would Silas have fared better in a civil police court?6
6. How would you characterize the narrator's tone?
7. What traumatic events have occurred in Silas' past, and how have they affected him? (betrayed by his closest friend and his religious group, hard for him to trust)
8. What are some differences between Silas's life in the city and life in the region to which he moves? Can you think of other 19th century novels which emphasize regional contrasts?
9. How is Silas's life at work described? (he is a spinning insect, 17) Does the reader expect a change?
10. Why is Marner drawn to collecting and dispensing herbal remedies? Why does he cease doing so? What does his refusal to sell remedies show about his character? (too honest to pretend to a wider knowledge than he has; in Felix Holt, the protagonist refuses to sell quack medicines even though this is a lucrative practice)
11. Why does he take to hoarding money? How are his responses to the gold described? (purely sensuous, fetishistic response) Is he a capitalist in modern terms? How does the narrator intervene to make his reactions seem understandable? (20)
12. In what time period is the novel set? (23) What are we to think of the Old Squire's views on war? (hopes they will keep up grain prices; this would be at the expense of England's poor and of course many more deaths)
13. From their conversation, what do we learn about the character and past of Godfrey and Dunstan? What is their relationship to one another? (one of competitive hatred) Are there any symbolic meanings in the choice of names?
14. What is their relationship to their father?
15. What might have made the situation of the brothers less precarious, or their home life more orderly? (31, 32, mother had died; father fails to educate them) What would happen to them if their father carried out his threat to disinherit them?
16. Why does Godfrey permit Dunstan to sell his horse? Why has he not been willing to do this himself? (wishes to attend ball with Nancy Lammeter)
16. What details add interest to the narration of the theft of Silas's gold? Does the narrator intend to make any points about how major life changes occur? (when we feel safe, we aren't)
17. What trivial act prompts Silas to leave the door of his cottage unlatched?
18. What do we learn about Silas's neighbors from the conversation at the Inn? Does the narrator seem to enjoy recounting the scene? Why? What possibility do they end up debating? (appearance of a ghost) Does this seem forshadowing?
19. Would you want to live in c. 1800 Raveloe?
20. Whom does Marner accuse of the theft (Jem), and why does he withdraw his accusation? How is the reader expected to respond to this choice? (Silas is honest and fair rather than vengeful)
21. How do Silas's neighbors respond to his tale? (at first incredulous, accusing him of the dark arts, but are willing to examine the evidence) Why would someone not use a bank in 1800?
22. Why would the narrator devote a chapter to portraying Godfrey's learning what the reader already knows? What new elements to the analysis are introduced? (61) Why doesn't Godfrey suspect his brother of the crime? (since he had already received the money for the horse, he most likely has simply disappeared with it)
23. What reasons prompt Godfrey to consider telling his father about his imprudent marriage, unacknowledged child, and debts? Why does he decide not to do so?
24. Does the narrative of Godfrey's conversation with his father imply any views about how family members should behave to one another? What are some ironic and determining events in the scene? What does the father threaten to do that alarms his son? What does the narrator think Godfrey should have done?
25. How is Marner's relation to his neighbors changed in the aftermath of the theft? Why? Who is the chief agent of this change? (Dolly Winthrop)
26. What does Dolly convince Silas to do, and how does this improve his life? According to the narrator, what seems to be the chief consideration in selecting a place of worship?
27. Why is Dolly's intervention necessary for Silas to properly raise his adopted daughter? Can you think of other Victorian novels which emphasize the role of the guardian as opposed to a biological parent? Why might this have been a frequent theme?
28. What are some features of George Eliot's writing style? What seem to be recurrent preoccupations of the book?
29. If you have read to the end, in retrospect what do you believe are the most important elements of the story up to this point?
30. Why does the author spend half of the plot before introducing Effie?
31. What are some important secrets still left unrevealed midway in the book?