Justin Bieber
Mr. Toner
10H English
17 March 2011
Silas Marner: The Glories of an Open Garden
In the ancient parable of the Monkey and the Jar, disgruntled yet ingenious townspeople connive to catch a marauding, malevolent monkey by placing a heavy, glass jar scattered with peanuts on the bottom, leaning the jar against a tree. The monkey screeches and swings towards the jar, its hairy paw slipping down the neck and clutching the peanuts. Seeing the townspeople rush from behind trees with spears and clubs, the monkey lumbers away, unable to mount speed because of the clanking, onerous jar. Why doesn’t the monkey slips its fist out and dash to safety? Because his paws clutch the peanuts, unable to release the momentary pleasure for the eventual drubbing by the people. With monkeys and with life, closed fists and closed hearts and closed doors often lead to catastrophic results while openness—yielding initial discomfort because of temporary vulnerability—eventually leads to happiness, in the monkey’s case his happiness being freedom. In George Eliot’s Silas Marner, when characters cling to the peanut jars of money and secrets, they suffer isolation and barrenness, while when they open their hands, they receive filial love and marital support. Eliot uses the literary devices of symbolism, characterization, and setting to illustrate the disastrous consequences of closure and the salvific effects of openness.

Silas Marner's symbolic door, closed for fifteen years, represents his unhappiness, that closure immuring him in loneliness and rapacity. Marner, during his first fifteen years at Raveloe, locks his door, behind which he avariciously whisks aside sand, hoists bricks, and lifts two sealed leather pouches, laden with thick piles of lusterless coins. With nocturnal regularity Marner exhumes this leather satchel and arrays his scintillating bounty, calculating every last guinea. Concometant with his financial obsession, Marner's thick wooden door seals and sequesters him from the Raveloe community: from the convivial spirits of the Rainbow, from the ingenuous invitations of Mrs. Winthrop, from the town’s religious ceremony. Comforted solely by his cold guineas, Marner “shrinks into a lonely, ‘insect-like- existence working incessantly at his loom. His eccentricities inspire fear and repulsion in the minds of the primitive country people, completing his isolation” (Dramin 12). Compounding his agony, one night Dunsey Cass knocks on the closed door and then enters, his hand soon sweeping away the sand and absconding with the money. When Marner returns and discovers the theft, “he put his trembling hands to his head, and gave a wild, ringing scream, the cry of desolation. For a few moments after he stood motionless”(Eliot 56). Like Dunsey who fatally falls into the Stone-pits, Marner too crashes in his own pit of despair. While Marner thinks a closed door will protect him—keeping him safe from another community’s betrayal—his door imprisons him.

Only when Marner’s door symbolically opens does he transform into a happier, more caring person. One night, after striding out the door, catalepsia seizes Marner, a neurological condition in which he is bodily frozen and mentally hypnotized; meanwhile, as he stands, statue-like in the snows, a golden-haired child gambols into his home. His door now open, he receives this singular gift that galvanizes his personal transformation. Snapping out of the catalepsia and returning home, he gasps at the sight of a two- year-old girl crumpled before his crackling hearth, sleeping on the floor. After carrying the child to the Red House and then, with others, discovering the girl's dead mother frozen in the snow, Marner defiantly proclaims paternal protection over the child: “’Till anybody shows they’ve a right to take her away from me,’ said Marner. ‘It’s a lone thing—and I’m a lone thing. My money’s gone, I don’t know where—and this is come from I don’t know where. I don’t know nothing—I’m partly mazed’” (Eliot 158) . Marner, hitherto an avaricious hermit, suddenly throws open the stony door of his heart and embraces this child; for the first time “Silas is able to unlock the door which separated him from his past, his emotions, his community, and hope. Silas believes that by her presence in his life, Eppie has automatically conferred these blessings on him” (Arthurs 121). Eliot then leapfrogs sixteen years into the future, with Eppie, a radiant eighteen-year-old, doting on her father, and so what Marner loses in gold he gains with a daughter. Marner throws open the door of his heart one final time: when Godfrey confesses his paternity to Eppie and implores her to become his adopted daughter, Marner--choking and fighting the tears--allows his daughter to make the final decision: Eppie then affirms her common-class nature and her unequivocal adulation for her father. Marner's open heart yields more benefits: the novel concludes with Eppie marrying Aaron, with the community congratulating the socially reformed Marner, and with Eppie shouting her happiness in her new garden. Marner has thus transformed from a money-clutching, lonely misanthrope--the door of his heart sealed--to a beaming father, his wealth returned, his daughter married, his community welcoming him—all because of his open door.

Similar to Marner’s closed door, both Godfrey Cass's and his wife Nancy’s closure—his of sealing his history and her by refusing to adopt—leads to their personal misery and generational loss. His refusal to disclose to his father his clandestine marriage to opium-addled Molly Ferren entangles him in his brother's machinations. Later, in his biggest blunder, he obdurately refuses to divulge that marriage to his wife, Nancy Lammeter, a cowardly feint that precludes their participating in parenthood. For reasons perhaps adventitious but perhaps karmic, Godfrey and Nancy never procreate, their one child dying in childbirth, and thus they lurch towards advanced age without the curly-haired comfort of children. Had Godfrey confessed his indiscretion to Nancy upon their marriage, she would have ebuliently accepted the newly orphaned Eppie into their lives: “’And—O Godfrey—if we’d had her from the first, if you’d taken to her as you ought—you’d have been happier with me…and our life might have been more like what we used to think ‘ud be’” (Eliot 216). Because he maintains the persona of landed gentry--with its purported higher morality--he closes his personal door to the joys of fatherhood. Nancy, too, despite her altruistic claims of mothering Eppie, slams her door on adoption, an avenue Godfrey suggests multiple times but which she spurns because “To adopt…means for Nancy a deliberate flouting of nature and God’s will, a futile defiance which is inevitably self-destructive (Arthurs 124). Because Godfrey closes himself from the truth of his connection to Eppie and Molly and because Nancy closes herself from the choice of adoption, both of them clatter away from Marner's cottage, cold and bereft and alone.

Like Marner, Godfrey and Nancy learn to open their hearts, and so they achieve a simulacrum of happiness. Sixteen years too late, Godfrey flings open the door of his sordid history and mumbles to his wife: “’Nancy…when I married you, I hid something from you—something I ought to have told you. Eppie is my child’” (Eliot 215). This single act of disclosure, this single intrepid confession yields unexpected blessings. While Godfrey hopes to someday adopt Eppie and transform her, Eliza Doolittle-style, into a charming young lady of the upper class, that door slams shut when Eppie chooses her father's rustic lifestyle and her undying devotion to him. Nancy's emotional door, however, flings open when he confesses his unseemly past: rather than rebuffing him, arrogantly and crassly, her own floodgates pour forth and her marital ties to Godfrey tighten: “The thought of leaving him does not enter her head; indeed the suggestion is that their union is strengthened by the confession” (Dawson 134). While he never obtains a father-daughter relationship with Eppie, Godfrey and Nancy, by opening up, secure a deeper relationship with each other.

Eliot also uses the meteorological element of setting to illustrate the deleterious effects of closure and the fecund consequences of openness. Dunsey--stumbling over the misty countryside after breaking Wildfire's neck--peculates Marner's guineas, and when he steps out of the cottage, instead of the beaming light of day, the "rain and darkness had got thicker and...it was awkward walking with both hands filled, so that it was as much as he could do to grasp his whip along with one of the bags" (Eliot 51). Encumbered by the bags, his vision obscured by the fog and mist and darkness, Dunsey gropes around the wooded perimeter, oblivious to his impending peril: the Stone-pit abutting Marner's property. Dunsey shuffles through the woods, blinded by fog and personal rapacity, and catapults headlong over the granite edge of the Stone-pit, his neck snapping on the jutting boulders, the guineas floating away. This destructive dark mist mirrors Dunsey’s own dark moral turpitude as he “makes his way through life heedless and alone; catastrophe…will certainly find someone who careens though darkness blindly and alone” (Sonstrown 7). This meteorological setting—the obscurity of mist and night--contributes to the theme of closure leading to misery. Eliot, in the book’s final pages, then celebrates human fertility by the openly resplendent setting of Marner’s garden. Eppie—contrasting with the emotionally crippled Godfrey and the procreatively forlorn Nancy-- exclaims at the book's conclusion: "'O father,' said Eppie, 'what a pretty home ours is! I think nobody could be happier than we are'" (Eliot 241). Fittingly, Eppie shouts this while standing next to her garden, the embodiment and celebration of openness. All things good have lead to this garden. At the beginning of Book 2, Eppie requests a garden from her father, a request that he accedes to and which immediately involves the heavy lifting of Eppie's boyfriend, Aaron Winthrop. And so this garden--by its essence open to the natural elements--unites these three characters, who only aspire to cherish each other. The book ebuliently ends with Eppie and Aaron's marriage, the townsfolk huddled around Marner, congratulating him. Fittingly, Eliot penultimate sentence celebrates this theme of openness: "The garden was fenced with stones on two sides, but in front there was an open fence, through which the flowers shone with answering gladness" (Eliot 241). Penurious yet ingenuous, Marner and Eppie transcend the book, he by opening his door to her, she by opening her heart to him instead of following the gilded carriage-trail of her biological father. In the end “[t]he novel ends not just with their wedding but with an archetypal quaternity (Silas, Dolly, Eppie, Aaron): an age-old symbol, according to Jung, of psychic wholeness” (Dawson 125). They all stand in the garden, beneath a shimmering sun, his wealth restored by the draining—and thus opening—of the Stone-pit, her future assured as Mrs. Aaron Walthrop.

Through the usage of symbolism, characterization, and setting, George Eliot weaves a tale of transformation in which closure leads to misery and openness leads to happiness. When Marner immures himself in his stone cottage, interacting little with the community, he calcifies into a curmudgeon; however when his open door lures a beautiful child, his own heart, he gains a daughter, a son-in-law, and communal support. Similar to Marner, Godfrey and Nancy also close themselves in secrets, emotional walls that preclude them from reveling in parenthood although their ultimate confessions do strengthen their marriage. Even nature follows this theme, with fog and mist enshrouding Dunsey, leading to his demise, while an open garden celebrates the nuptial fertility of Eppie Marner. As with monkeys whose closed fists trap them in glass jars, human closure—while initially providing a small comfort—stunts growth and poisons happiness while openness—initially exposing people and making them vulnerable—allows humans to sprout and flourish like a garden.








1/15
Read/listened to Silas Marner while travelling to Mohican. Nice book. Lovely writing. Lots of big words that only over-educated people know, words which, if I used in real life, would give me a broken nose and black eye from people thinking I was uppitty. I can't shake the idea of the open and closed door. Will probably use that for my paper.

1/24
possible thesis: George Eliot emplys imagery and communal characterization to convey the theme that closure leads to misery and death while openness leads to happiness and marriage.

Silas Marner's symbolic door represents the path from misery to happiness: its closure immuring him in loneliness and rapacity, its openness liberating him to parental jubilation. For fifteen years Marner locked his door, behind which he avariciously flicked aside sand, hoisted bricks, and lifted two sealed leather pouches, into which he stashed thick piles of lusterless coins. Marner, with nocturnal regularity, exhumed the leather satchel and arrayed his scintillating bounty, calculating every last guinea. Concometant with his financial obsession, Marner's thick wooden door closed and sealed and sequestered him from the Raveloe community: from the convivial spirits of the Rainbow, from the ingenuous invitations of Mrs. Winthrop, from any religious connection. Marner's psychological door slammed fifteen years earlier, when the religious elders of Lantern Yard accused Marner from peculating the savings of a dying minister, an act of duplicity by his friend Morrison which not only prompted his fiance to abrogate the engagement but for the community to exile him. Such religious, communal, and romantic betrayal goaded Marner to seek and achieve asylum behind his own closed door, a simple stone cottage abutting, tragically, the Stone Pits, a simple cottage that provided a weaving living but which abated his human warmth. While Marner always locked his door, on one chilly, fog-bound night he walked from his cottage to find twine in the forest, an interstice of time enabling Dunstey to knock on the door and then stride right in, his hand soon sweeping away the sand and absconding with the money. When Marner returns, he ululates in agony, the betrayal of another community shredding his soul, and he crashes in loneliness. Quote: . Like Dunsey who fatally falls into the Stone Pits, Marner too crashes in his own pit of despair. 1/28
Silas's entire life changes--and he first tastes the morning drops of salvation--when after striding out the door, catalepia seizes him in the snows, and a golden-haired child gambols into his home: a singular gift in his personal transformation. After he snaps out of his catalepia and returns home, he gasps at the sight of a two year old girl crumpled before his crackling hearth, sleeping on the floor. After carrying the child to the Red House and then, with others, discovering the girl's dead mother frozen in the snow, Marner defiantly proclaims paternal protection over the child: Quote . Marner, hitherto a hermit and a curmudgeon, tolerating society only for pecuniary demands, suddenly throws open the stony door of his heart and embraces this child. Even resisting the paternal suggestions of Dolly Winthrop, Marner joyfully embarks on fatherhood, stumbling during episodes of neglected vigilance and awkward, coal-bin discipline. Eliot then leapfrogs sixteen years into the future, into a beatific phase of the daughter--named Eppie--doting on her father. What Marner has lost in gold he has infinitely compensated for with a daughter. Marner then throws open the door of his heart one final time: when Godfrey confesses his paternity to Eppie and implores her to become his adopted daughter-- thus assuring her a gilded life of perpetual luxury--Marner, choking and fighting the tears, allows his daughter to make the final decision: Quote . Eppie triumphantly affirms her common-class nature and her unequivocal adulation for her father, sending Godfrey home childless. Marner's open heart yields more benefits: the novel concludes with Eppie marrying Aaron, with the community congratulating the socially reformed Marner, and with Eppie shouting her happiness in her new garden: Quote .
Marner has thus transformed from a money-clutching, lonely misanthrope--the door of his heart sealed--to a beaming father, his wealth returned, his daughter married, his community welcoming him. 1/29

Godfrey Cass's lies--the closure from the truth--also leads to personal misery and generational death as does Nancy's obdurate refusal to be open to adoption. His refusal to disclose to his father his clandestine marriage to opium-addled Molly Ferren entangles him in his brother's machinations. Later, in his biggest blunder, for sixteen years he never divulges that previous marriage to his wife, Nancy Lambero that closure from the truth sealing him from any future chance at a children. For reasons perhaps adventitious but perhaps karmic, Godfrey and Nancy never procreate, their one child dying in childbirth, and thus they lurch towards advanced age without the curly-haired comfort of children. Had Godfrey confessed his indiscretion to Nancy upon their marriage--or at least Nancy later avers--she would have ebuliently accepted the newly orphaned Eppie into their lives. Because he craved to maintain the persona of the landed gentry--with its purported higher morality--he closed his personal door to the joys of fatherhood. Nancy, too, despite her altruistic claims of mothering Eppie, slammed her door on adoption, a venue Godfrey had suggested multiple times but which she spurned, claiming God's will dictated her barren status. Because Godfrey closed himself from the truth of his connection to Eppie and Molly and because Nancy closed herself from the choice of adoption, both of them clatter away from Marner's cottage, cold and bereft and alone.

Then again, not totally alone. They have each other, a unity achieved, in large part, by Godfriey's confession to Nancy about Eppie's paternity. This single act of disclosure, this single intrepid throwing open of Godfrey's emotional closed door yields unexpected blessings. While Godfrey hoped to someday adopt Eppie and transform her, Eliza Doolittle style, into a charming young lady of the upper class, that door gets slammed when Eppie proclaims her preference for her father's rustic lifestyle and her undying devotion to him. However, Nancy's emotional door flings open when he does confess his unseemly past: rather than rebuffing him, arrogantly and crassly, her own floodgates pour forth as she maintains had he confessed sixteen years ago, she wouldn't have abandoned him but instead would have embraced him and his waif daughter even more. While Godfrey's confession never secures a father-daughter relationship, with a wisp of a relationship implied by Godfrey's funding of Eppie's wedding, Godfrey does secure a deeper relationship with her wife by opening the closed door of his past to her. 1/30

Eliot also uses setting to illustrate the deleterious effects of closure and salutary consequences of openness. Dunsey--stumbling over the countryside after breaking Wildfire's neck--then peculates Marner's guineas, hidden below the sand-covered bricks. Then, because of setting, his troubles really begin. Instead of the beaming light of day, in which vistas of open roads might have beckoned him, leading him to frivolous emancipation, when he stepped out of Marner's cottage, the "rain and darkness had got thicker and...it was awkward walking with both hands filled, so that it was as much as he could do to grasp his whip along with one of the bags" (Eliot 51). Encumbered by the bags, his vision obscured by the fog and mist and darkness, Dunsey gropes around the wooded perimeter, blind to his impending peril: the Stone-pit abutting Marner's property. In a scene never described by Eliot by inferred by the discovery of Dunsey's skeletal remains sixteen years later, Dunsey shuffles through the woods, perhaps blinded more than anything by his rapacity, and catapaults to his demise: falling headlong over the granite edge of the stone-pit, partially filled with water, his neck snapping on the jutting boulders, the guineas floating away. This meteorological setting--the vision-blurring obscurity of mist and night--contributes to the theme of closure leading to misery.
Contrasting to meteorological closure, Eliot concludes the book on a celebratory note as the characters stand in the most open of man-made constructions: the garden. Far from Godfrey, so emotionally crippled that he cannot attend his biological daughter's wedding and far from Nancy, bereft of ever having a daughter, Eppie exclaims at the book's conclusion--oddly genuine and without irony: "'O father,' said Eppie, 'what a pretty home ours is! I think nobody could be happier than we are'" (Eliot 241). Fittingly, Eppie shouts this while standing next to her garden, the embodiment and celebration of openness. All things good have lead to this garden. At the beginning of Book 2, Eppie requests a garden from her father, a request that he accedes to and which immediately involves the heavy lifting of Eppie's boyfriend, Aaron Winthrop


Thomas Becket, in Waiting for Godot, uses irony to show the absurdity of life. In this play, Vladimir and Estragon wait for an unseen character named Godot. He never comes. This is a blatant example of situational irony, as the reader naturally expects Godot to come based on the title. But no, the entire play focuses on the unhappy pair waiting and wasting their lives away. As far as the viewer of the play knows, their entire lives were spent waiting on something that never came. Their lives were pointless. This irony of unmet expectations shows the absurdity of life; we spend it waiting for something to come. What Godot represents, we don’t entirely know. Perhaps it is death, as Vladimir and Estragon decide to wait to hear what Godot says in regards to their suicide. Maybe, through this ironic twist, Becket shows that we spend our lives doing nothing except killing time before we die.
The play ends quite anticlimactically, just as it started; Vladimir and Estragon, alone, waiting for Godot. Nothing has changed through the entire play, another piece of irony. Why did Becket pick this little snapshot of Vladimir and Estragon’s life to show us? Maybe because all the snapshots were the same. There were no more exciting parts of their lives, no less exciting. All these two ever do is wait, just as we all do.