The discussion will take place first in Silas Marner novel. It is taken to be first since it needs full concentration of the reader.
Two characters are going to be in “redemption” and “re-generation”, in their concepts and beliefs in life. The main character of the novel, which the plot builds on, is “Silas Marner”. His penance is him living lonely and cut off from the world for 15 years, till he finds Eppie. Eppie, is like the fairy genie, which will be the cause of his “re-generation”.
Silas’s redemption is evoked, when he takes Eppie the little child and raises her. By doing that, he was attaching him self to his passion, and re-gaining trust in kinship and emotions. The following quotation support the point mentioned:
For Silas, ignorant and confused as he is, moves, even in his passion for gold, on a more intense and heroic emotional plane than the villagers Austen, Henry.226
The quotation mentioned earlier will be explained with more details. Silas love of money was replaced by Eppie’s love. It is only a symbol to the replacement of materialism and loss of faith to human kinship and trust in a new religion based on love, not religious myths and supernatural elements. Eppie is the message for Silas and the reader:
The message’ the child brings is the all-importance of natural human affections, and Silas is receptive because his affection has survived the fifteen years of isolation. Carroll, David.197
It cannot be said that Silas is a villain character, or else he would not have changed. He was in loss, when the lot that should have announced him not guilty, gave an opposite answer. This incident happened in Lantern Yard; he was then a part of a religious group. He was accused of stealing the dead man, who he was looking after that night. Their custom is to draw lot, so that God show them the right answer. It came negative; he lost faith in man and God as a result to this incident. When he moves to live in Raveloe, he worships money. He stay lonely for fifteen years; it can be said that it is his penance for losing faith in human kind, and disbelieving in a righteous “mysterious Power”. The penance ends, and the “re-generation” start with Eppie’s appearance in his life. She makes him trust again humans, and trust a new believe in a new God he never knew.
Another main character, which is in the sub-pot of the novel, is Godfrey. His fall is his believe in the “god of chance”. Godfrey is weak and always hesitates. It is obvious because he leaves every thing for chance. He does not tell his father about his marriage to Molly, Eppie’s mother, nor he acknowledges his daughter when he recognizes her after Silas founding her. His selfish self and his weakness stop him from admitting the truth. Even in earlier incidents, when he decides to tell his father about his secret marriage, he does not, because:
,he could now feel the presence of nothing but its evil consequences: the old dread of disgrace came back – the old shrinking from the thought of raising a hopeless barrier between him and Nancy – the old disposition to rely on chances which might be favourable to him, and save him from betrayal. Why, after all, should he cut off the hope of them by his own act? Silas Marner. Ch.8
His carelessness and his weakness to take the consequences of his actions, his goal to marry Nancy, and his depend on chance, are all his faults. He will pay his penance, as Silas did, when he marries Nancy and have no children. His penance starts, when Silas’s one ends. Godfrey’s refusal to acknowledge Eppie, is only a refuse of a second chance given by the “mysterious Powers”, to correct his mistakes. The result of his actions will be severe. His punishment is divided into three parts: his childless marriage, his wife’s love, who could not accept the idea of adoption, while he wanted to adopt his child, and then his daughter refusing to live with him when he acknowledged her the truth.
As a result, it can be said that “Both stories reveal a world ruled by the law of consequences; Silas’s fifteen years of very real bitterness and isolation rule out the suggestion that his is a different kind of world from Godfrey’s, a world in which the logic of the everyday is suspended. Both men suffer for their mistakes; Silas recovers completely from his transgression and is suitably rewarded because his affection has preserved him, whereas Godfrey’s lapse is more criminal and his punishment more severe” Carroll, David. 198 & 199.
Now, it is to be approached the redemption aspect in Hard Times. The main character, which will be in redemption, is Grandgrind. He is introduced at the beginning of the novel as:
The speaker’s square finger emphasized his observations by underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. Hard Times. Ch.1
From the description above, it is expected to find a hard person with a calculating mind. He emphasizes on reason, not emotions. His character probably points at Utilitarianism in nineteen-century system, especially in the educational field. The system stresses on educating the mind, without the heart; it teaches to “Stick to Facts”Hard Times. Ch.1, as Mr. Grandgrind lectures his student.
On the basis of his philosophy, his daughter Louisa marries an elder man, who is Mr. Bounderby, for the sake of her brother. She married him because her brother asks her to. As a result of this decision she made, she lives with Mr. Bounderby unhappy till they separate. Tom, Louisa’s brother, acts careless and steals Mr. Bounderby. Tom wanted to live different of how he was raised, and that lead him to be cruel to his sister and at the end a thief. Mr. Grandgrind system, produce another catastrophe, who is Bitzer, a student in his school. He becomes a spy to Mr. Bounderby, and he then hunt Tom down, when he tried to flee not to be put to jail for his crime.
Grandgrind redemption does not begin when Louisa converse with him. She inquires from him if he is asking her to love Mr. Bounderby. He falls in perplexity, till he finds a way to get back to his facts and numbers. Her discussion with him went to vein.
Mr. Grandgrind awakes when he finds out that Tom stole the money. His point of view to life changes then, especially when he knows that the circus people, who he always thought of as un-realistic people, helped his son. The change of his concepts are shown on his physical appearance:
..Aged and bend he looked, and quite bowed down; and yet he looked a wiser man, and a better man, than in the days when in this life he wanted nothing but Facts. Hard Times. Ch.7
The climax reaches when Bitzer hunt Tom and want to take him back to Mr. Bounder. Bitzer explains for Grandgrind that it is a mere calculating reasonable Fact. He is greed that Bounderby put him in place of Tom in the bank, and maybe get some money too. Grandgrind is in grief for the result of the system he believed in, since it only repaid him with pain:
“Bitzer” said Mr. Grandgrind, broken down, and miserably submissive to him, “have you a heart?”
“The circulation, Sir,” returned Bitzer, smiling at the oddity of the question, “couldn’t be carried on without one. No man, Sir, acquainted with the facts established by Harvey relating to the circulation of the blood, can doubt that I have a heart.”
“Is it accessible,” cried Mr. Grandgrind, “to any compassionate influence?”
“It is accessible to Reason, Sir,” returned the excellent young man. “And to nothing else.”‘ Hard Times. Ch.8
Mr.Grandgrind character, however, is not villain. He takes Sissy to love with him, to educate her, when he knows her father flee. He is deep inside a gentle person, and a loving father. Maybe his love, in a way blinded him to see the truth of his teaching to his children. That is why his redemption evokes bitterly, and he decides then to make “his facts and figures subservient to Faith, Hope and Charity.”Hard Times. Ch.9
In one way or another, this novel, as Silas Marner, calls for a universal theme of love and kinship. Life cannot be based on reason, and materialism. It can be based on kindness and friendship. To have the mind and heart in peace.
Austen, Henry. A Qualified Redemption of Ordinary and Fallible Humanity. 1970. 225,229,230.
Carroll, David. Reversing the Oracles of Religion. 1967. 197,198,199.
Dickens, Charles. Hard Times: An Authority Text, Background, Sources, And Contemporary Reactions Criticism. NewYork: W.W. Norton ; Company. 2,1990. Ch.1: 1, ch.7: 203, ch.8: 210 ; 211, ch.9: 218.
Eliot, George. Silas Marner. London: Penguin Books. 1996. Ch.8: 66, ch.14: 130