Curriculum Vital

The Education Umbrella Guide to Silas Marner
Chapter thirteen summary and analysis

This page is part of the Education Umbrella Guide to Silas Marner. Free to download, our guide features a summary and analysis of every chapter, analysis of the novel's themes, and an introduction to George Eliot's life and work. 

Questions? Comments? Contact Ross: rgrainger@educationumbrella.com

Summary

At the Red House, as the New Year’s party proceeds happily, Godfrey stands alone, hoping to avoid his father’s attention any embarrassing words about Nancy. Suddenly, he sees Silas Marner enter with a little girl in his arms. Though he has not seen his daughter for several months, Godfrey instantly recognises the child as his own. The guests cease dancing in astonishment as Silas moves further into the room.

Silas asks for the doctor. There is, he says, a woman lying dead outside his cottage. Godfrey worries that the woman might not be dead and that his secret is about to be revealed.

One of the ladies suggests to Silas that he leave the girl at the Red House. Suddenly protective, Silas refuses, saying he cannot part with the child; that he has a right to her.

The doctor agrees to go to Silas’s cottage, and asks Dolly to come with him. Godfrey rushes out to join them, taking care not to appear desperate, but nevertheless having forgotten to change his shoes. He has one train of thought: if Molly is dead, he is free; if she is alive, he is ruined.

When Godfrey arrives at the cottage the doctor tells him the woman has been dead for a few hours. Godfrey looks at her, contemplating their unhappy marriage, before entering Silas’s cottage, where Silas sits with the child in his arms.

Godfrey asks Silas if he will take the child to the parish. When Silas replies that he intends to keep her, Godfrey is surprised. He gives Silas some money from his pocket to be used towards clothes for the girl.

Godfrey returns to the Red House, content that his secret has died with Molly and that he can make sure the child is cared for without having to declare himself the father.

Analysis

“No—no—I can’t part with it, I can’t let it go,” said Silas, abruptly. “It’s come to me—I’ve a right to keep it.”

The proposition to take the child from him had come to Silas quite unexpectedly, and his speech, uttered under a strong sudden impulse, was almost like a revelation to himself: a minute before, he had no distinct intention about the child.

To describe Silas’s ‘sudden impulse’ as being ‘almost like a revelation’ adds to the image of Silas as a reluctant prophet or messenger.

Revelation is the last book of the New Testament. The word ‘revelation’ comes from the Latin revelare, meaning ‘to lay bare’. The book is also know as The Apocalypse, from the Greek word meaning unveiling. The sense is that Silas, stripped of his most cherished possession, is reduced to his most basic human form. He then enjoys a second life, or second coming. Revelation concludes with Christ’s reassurance that his second coming is imminent.