A look at the Intertextual Elements of the Motif of Nature, and the Symbol of Light as seen in George Elliot’s novel Silas Marner, and William Wordsworth poem Michael, a Pastoral Poem.
It is apparent in reading Silas Marner that the writing of William Wordsworth had a strong impact on George Elliot. This novel shares many similarities with the poem Michael by Wordsworth. Both works share an ordinary simple working man as a protagonist, both works take place in an idyllic countryside setting, and both works feature and stress the importance of having children, and the hope and joy they can bring to a home; though, these two works share much more than just a similar protagonist, setting, and plot. The epigraph that opens George Elliot’s Silas Marner is from the poem Michael by William Wordsworth; this indicates a very high degree of intertextuality between the two works, in the elements of the recurring motif of nature, and the strong symbolic representations of light. Nature in Silas Marner represents everything good and pure and wholesome. Elliot idealizes a simple natural life. We can see this in the way she describes the village of Raveloe, “it lay in the rich central plain of what we are pleased to call Merry England,” she goes on to say, “it was nestled in a snug well wooded hollow,” (Elliot 5). This admiration of nature can also be seen in the contrast between Raveloe – the village that is instrumental in Silas’ growth and healing, and Lantern Yard – his original home of which he was cast out, this event is the reason that he becomes the solitary miser we see in the beginning of the novel. When Silas returns to Lantern Yard with Eppie, Silas is described as being “... ill at ease, besides, amidst the noise, the movement, and the multitude of indifferent faces.” Eppie is also uncomfortable and remarks, “O, what a dark ugly place!” (Elliot 172). The novel ends with the wedding of Eppie on a beautiful sunny day, surrounded by “lilacs and laburnums...
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