In George Eliot’s novel, Silas Marner, the eponymous hero is a man who felt deceived by both god and man. His close friend deceived him by implicating him in a theft committed by the former. Since Marner was known for his honesty and goodness, the matter was taken to God. The lot drawn before God after the ritual of a prayer incriminated Marner again. The worst stab in the innocent heart of Marner was when his fianceé abandoned him to marry the man who had done the terrible injustice to him.
Marner leaves the place heartbroken and settles down in Raveloe as a solitary weaver who does not socialise at all. He cannot bring himself to join any human company. He has lost faith in mankind. He has lost faith in God too. However, when he sees Sally Oates suffering from the same disease which his mother had suffered from, the natural goodness in Marner well up. He prepares a concoction for Sally and it heals her. Marner becomes famous in Raveloe as a man with occult powers to heal incurable diseases. People flock to him for medicines. He drives them away telling them the truth that he has no such powers as they imagine. But people are people. They accuse him of being wicked. They blame him for all the ills that befall them.
The novel is set in the beginning of 19th century. Two centuries later, today, has the human nature altered anyway in this regard?
Marner was good and honest. He did not lose those qualities in spite of his bitter experiences. That’s why he helped Sally Oates. That is also why he refused to help the others. He did not want to be a charlatan who cheated them by giving false medication. But people did not care to understand.
That is why Robert Zend said, “There are too many people, and too few human beings.” Diogenes, the Greek philosopher (412-323 BCE), would have walked the streets in broad daylight with a lit lamp looking for human beings even in our times.
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