Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Paper #1 ... check.

My first paper for my 19th Century class on George Eliot is complete.  I'm actually rather proud of it!  It's not only my first big paper for this class, it is my first graduate paper and my first paper that I have written in over six years.  Here is a taste of it: my introduction:
Vision, Blindness, and Moving towards Consciousness
in George Eliot’s Silas Marner
Throughout Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, George Eliot repeatedly describes Marner’s eyes in great detail, focusing on his vision, his ability to see, and most especially on periods of unconsciousness, such as when Marner is suffering from cataleptic fits.  The novel is thus concerned not only with sight, but also with intervals of unconsciousness and blindness.  I propose that Eliot outlines Silas Marner’s journey to consciousness throughout the novel with these references to his vision.  His vision moves from hyperopic/unconscious in Lantern Yard, to myopic/unconscious in Raveloe before the arrival of Eppie, and finally to collective/conscious in Raveloe after the arrival of Eppie.  By mapping this progression of Silas’s vision, Eliot uses Silas Marner as a site on which to make an argument for a collective and sympathetic human consciousness.  Eliot also exercises a blindness in the narrative, using periods of unconsciousness for the reader, much as she uses Silas Marner’s catalepsy.  By bringing the reader to consciousness and vision along with the character of Silas, she is making a case for a sympathetic and collective awareness or consciousness for her audience.  While we are never brought to complete consciousness, perhaps the novel is suggesting an acceptance of limited sight and vision as long as we are still moving toward a collective and sympathetic consciousness.


  1. Hey! If I knew this blog was here before, I would have commented sooner. What an awesome topic! I wish we got to talk more about it in class. Maybe, it will reappear in some of Eliot's other novels. I find your link between sight and the reader's awakening consciousness really interesting.

  2. I tried to look for it in Mill on the Floss. There were so many references to Maggie's dark eyes, and Tom's light blue/grey eyes. I suspect there's something there, but I don't think it's working in the same way as it did in SM.

    Thanks for commenting! I was reading your blog last night, and really love the Fraggle Rock post.


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