Silas Marner - Language
...the flowers shone with answering gladness...

Silas Marner - Language

This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at language in Silas Marner by George Eliot. Silas Marner resembles a fairy tale in many ways. This resemblance is often most apparent in its language. Eliot’s language choices often emphasise semi-magical aspects to the story, especially in its opening and also around Eppie’s appearance on Silas's hearth. Language is also used here to create an air of timelessness in a way that implies that the lessons of this tale can be suspended from particular times and locations in order to be applied more universally. Dialogue, rather than description, seems to root the tale into its particular setting in Raveloe. Pay close attention, therefore, to distinctions between the language the narrator uses and that employed by the characters.

Analysing language in a text

While layout, font and any illustrations, as well as any other visual elements, certainly have an effect on our understanding and interpretation of a text, language is the primary medium through which its meaning is conveyed. Without language, written texts, by definition, could not exist.

Authors choose the language that they use with great care. Each word has its literal meaning; beyond that lies a weight of symbolic meanings and other associations. Literary effects are conveyed through the use of imagery, such as metaphor, simile and personification. All of these effects are accomplished through words alone. An author’s skilful use of language creates dialogue, setting and characterisation.

Paying close attention to language choices in a text is never a waste of time; your effort will be rewarded with deeper understanding. Linger over words in order to go beyond the surface meaning. Ask yourself what the language might be suggesting subliminally. Remember that the author has put great care into choosing the language and that you should also consider it with care. This practice will help you to decipher the text’s deeper meanings.

Answer the questions on George Eliot's Silas Marner below to develop your understanding of the way language choices affect our interpretation of a text.

"There might be seen in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race." What impression does this description create of the wandering weavers?
The weavers are otherworldly
The weavers are condescending to the farmers and other rural people
The weavers are happiest when they are travelling
Because they are exotic, the weavers attract much positive attention from rural people
The weavers are out of place in the rural environment, alien and distrusted by honest country people
"The second day he took refuge from benumbing unbelief, by getting into his loom and working away as usual." What does Silas's work represent to him?
All of the above
When his beliefs are smashed by the injustice of his treatment by the community of worshippers in Lantern Yard, Silas finds meaning in his craft
"So he stepped forward into darkness." What meaning is conveyed by the use of the word "darkness"?
Dunstan has chosen the dark path of causing harm to others
Dunstan is stepping forward into a literal darkness, since it is night
Dunstan is stepping forwards into the darkness represented by death
All of the above
Eliot leaves the reader wondering, along with the inhabitants of Raveloe, what happened to Dunstan the day he tried to sell Godfrey's horse
"In that moment the mother's love pleaded for painful consciousness rather than oblivion — pleaded to be left in aching weariness, rather than to have the encircling arms benumbed so that they could not feel the dear burden." Which pairs of words are set in opposition here?
"Mother's love" and "encircling arms"
"Aching weariness" and "benumbed"
"Painful consciousness" and "encircling arms"
"Painful consciousness" and "oblivion"
Molly's addiction leads her to choose oblivion against the urging of her love for her child. Consciousness is painful and means that she is aware of the burden she carries and of her deep weariness
"The fading grey light fell dimly on the walls decorated with guns, whips, and foxes' brushes, on coats and hats flung on the chairs, on tankards sending forth a scent of flat ale, and on a half-choked fire, with pipes propped up in the chimney-corners." What impression is given by the language in these lines?
The Red House parlour is a place of cosiness
The Red House parlour is uncared-for
The Red House parlour is a place of quiet contemplation and recreation
The Red House parlour is a child-friendly environment
Eliot associates this lack of care with the Red House's lack of feminine influence
Regarding the answer to the previous question, which language choices create this impression?
Coats, hats, ale
Foxes' brushes, hats, tankards
Dimly, decorated, propped
Flung, flat, half-choked
No one cares to pour away unfinished ale, ensure that coats and hats are hung up carefully, or tend to the fire
"That bright living thing must be caught; and in an instant the child had slipped on all fours, and held out one little hand to catch the gleam." What is the significance of the "gleam" Eppie tries to catch?
The gleam is simultaneously the warmth and light of Silas's fire and life itself
The gleam only refers literally to the light of Silas's fire
The gleam represents the snow from which Eppie escapes
The gleam only refers to Eppie's own desire to live
Eppie saves her own life by following the gleam out of the snow to the warmth of Silas's hearth
"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, as the four united people came within sight of them." What is the significance of the word "answering"?
The flowers, unlike the young married couple, are responsive to the outer world
It is as if the group of flowers are in conversation with one another, like the group of four people
The use of the word "answering" implies that Eppie speaks to her flowers when she is working in the garden
The flowers reflect back the joy of Silas, Dolly, Eppie and Aaron
Although the flowers clearly give pleasure, here their role is to reflect the much greater happiness of human relationship
"We eat o' the same bit, and drink o' the same cup, and think o' the same things from one day's end to another." Which of the following is NOT true of Silas's portrayal of his relationship with Eppie?
They are equals
They are incapable of considering the feelings of others
They are inseparable
They are equally contented in their humble life together
Silas objects that if Eppie were to go to live with Godfrey and Nancy, the pair would be cut in two
Nancy Lammeter's opinions and habits are compared to grass which has taken root and grown in her mind, without being noticed. While the comparison is meant to demonstrate how little thought has gone into nurturing the opinions and how tenacious these habits might be, what else is implied?
Nancy's habits and opinions are weak, like blades of grass
Nancy's habits and opinions are healthy and natural, like grass
Nancy's opinions might spread to other people, like weeds
Nancy's opinions and habits can be changed
Like grass, Nancy's opinions and habits can be uprooted. Godfrey does not recognise this possibility in his wife
Author:  Sheri Smith

© Copyright 2016-2023 - Education Quizzes
TJS - Web Design Lincolnshire

Valid HTML5

We use cookies to make your experience of our website better.

To comply with the new e-Privacy directive, we need to ask for your consent - I agree - No thanks - Find out more