When Silas Marner arrives in the traditional English village of Raveloe, he is an outsider. He is a religious outcast who has been expelled from his church and home — his only comfort is counting his money and keeping himself separate from the rest of the village. But then his gold is stolen, and replaced by the almost mystical arrival of a toddler, Eppie, who helps him learn to love, integrate with his community, and finally be happy. It is an almost sickly sweet plot, but the writer George Eliot imbues the novel with much larger themes around the importance of religion, tradition, industrialisation — and what it means to have a home.
The village is deeply suspicious of Silas when he arrives. Not only is he a religious outsider, but he seems to go out of his way to separate himself from the close-knit community. But by the end of the novel, it is Silas who truly brings them together. Do we still fear the people we don’t understand?
‘I hope my footage helps people understand’
The BBC’s Exodus puts Europe’s refugee crisis into extreme focus. Shot on cameraphones by the refugees themselves, it shows every stage of their dangerous journey. But will it change minds?
Cameron: immigration policy ‘hasn’t worked’
Top Conservatives suggest that ‘too much’ immigration makes a ‘cohesive society impossible’. But fans of the Great British Bake Off take a rather different view as the finale arrives.
‘Outsiders’ challenge traditional politicians
Jeremy Corbyn’s victory is the latest in an apparent trend in which voters from Europe to the USA are increasingly drawn to ‘straight talking’ fringe voices and non-politicians.
Silas obsessively counts his gold every night before bed — until one of the wealthy brothers from the Cass family steals it and disappears, leaving Silas with nothing. But in the end, it is not money which brings him — or the rich Casses — true happiness.
Capitalism under fire as major chain implodes
The clothing chain BHS has gone bankrupt, putting 11,000 people out of work. Meanwhile, Sports Direct employees face stress, low pay and fear. Are these signs of systemic failure?
Vicars top the list of happiest workers
A UK government study has revealed that those with the highest paid jobs are not necessarily the most contented or fulfilled. Is well-being less dependent on wealth than we often think?
Activists accuse richest US family of greed
This week a group of activists has revealed just how little America’s richest family, the Waltons, pay in to their own charitable foundation. Can they be justified in not donating more?
Silas is a dissenter — meaning he has broken away from the Anglican church in favour of a more radical branch of Christianity. He shared this history with George Eliot herself. But the village slowly brings him around to its communal, supportive style of Christianity. How important are religious traditions?
‘Moral’ young people put family first
Religion, broader society and even other relationships lose out in a new survey of teens and young adults – looking after family is seen as the best measure of morality.
Religion under threat as UK loses belief
A new study says there are more non-believers than Christians in England and Wales for the first time. The pattern is similar elsewhere in the West — so will established religions die out?
Philosopher’s book aims to end ‘God Wars’
In recent years, fierce debates have divided passionate atheists from firm believers. Now famous thinker Alain de Botton has provoked a storm of debate by suggesting a ‘middle way’.
The novel was published in 1861, as the industrial revolution was in full swing. But it is set a few decades earlier, in a traditional rural England on the cusp of great change. This is why, as a weaver, Silas’s loom is such a key symbol in the novel: it foreshadows the much larger machines that would soon change English life forever.
‘Manufacturing is dead’ steel workers warn
Yesterday 1,200 further jobs were lost in the British steel industry. Is manufacturing in developed countries now a thing of the past?
Miracle and disaster as China grows rich
Boomtime for industry in China has brought health risks for the population, with frequent poisonings and accidents. But there are benefits as well.
A bullet through the heart of England
Proposals for a high-speed rail link across England have run into trouble. Campaigners say the new tracks will ruin countryside and wreck lives. Are the benefits worth the price?
What does it mean to be home? Silas is devastated to leave his birthplace, Lantern Yard. But when he returns decades later, his former home has been replaced by a large, grim factory — only his memories remain. But has he, against the odds, found something better?
Boy, lost for 25 years, finds home on Google Earth
Saroo Brierley was five when he woke up alone on a train in Calcutta. He thought he would never see his family again. Two decades on, modern technology has helped him find his way home at last.
Jubilee street parties bring neighbours together
This weekend, Britain is set to come alive with street parties. The celebrations look back to a time of community spirit – and a sense of neighbourliness many think has been lost.
Young priced out of leaving the family home
A new report shows that 26% of young people are choosing to remain with their parents rather than striking out expensively on their own. Is this a crisis, or an opportunity?