Silas Marner Part 1, Chapter 1
"It came to pass that those scattered linen-weavers - emigrants from the town into the country - were to the last regarded as aliens by their rustic neighbours, and usually contracted the eccentric habits which belong to a state of loneliness." Chapter 1, pg. 10.
Silas Marner, a linen-weaver, is distrusted and disliked by the people of Raveloe, the village where Silas now resides. Silas's home is located on the edge of the village and next to a body of water referred to as the Stone-pits. Drawn to the unusual sound of Silas's weaving, the young village boys would sneak to his house and peep into the windows to see the machinery and Silas would turn around and gaze at them fiercely for interrupting his work. The young Raveloe boys are not the only ones whose minds are piqued with curiosity and mystery of Silas's abilities; the adults themselves believe that Silas has magical powers.
Raveloe is a country village where its inhabitants stay true to traditional customs and ideas. The villagers take pride in their farms, fields, and grounds. Isolated from nearby towns, Raveloe townspeople are content to stay within the village. The social center is the church and the churchyard in the middle of town.
Silas Marner has been living in Raveloe for the past fifteen years, and he still is considered an outsider to Raveloe. His home region and his way of living are uncharacteristic to Raveloe standards, for the town where he lived is different from the countryside village where he now resides. He has never invited anyone to his home; he never socializes with anyone. All the young ladies of Raveloe are convinced that he is not in the least interested in marrying one of them, and he never attends church.
Jem Rodney, the town poacher (mole-catcher), convinces the townspeople that Silas has strange powers from the time that he sees Silas blacking out into unconsciousness one time. The townspeople wonder at his extensive knowledge of herbs and charms; they were intrigued by Silas's ability to cure Sally Oates's heart trouble with herbs.
The town's attitude toward Silas does not change as the years pass by; the only thing that is worth noting to the townspeople is that Silas has somehow acquired a pile of money.
Before he had come to Raveloe, Silas Marner was a respected young man in his town of Lantern Yard, well liked and respected for his devotion to his religion and his church.
His fainting fits were seen as messages from the Holy One: once he had fallen into an unconscious trance of some sort, it was made it clear that he was a "brother selected for a peculiar discipline" Chapter 1, pg. 15. Silas had inherited from his mother knowledge of medicinal herbs, but he was sure the herbs would not work without prayer. He often took delight in searching fields for these exotic herbs.
What he loved about Lantern Yard was that he had a very close companion and trusted friend in the older William Dane. The two of them were so close that the Lantern Yard people referred to them as "David and Jonathan." They shared a love for religion and its sentiments: sin, salvation, and redemption. Silas liked his good friend William Dane so much that he failed to see any faults in him; Silas's inexperienced, naive and trusting nature led him to believe that William could do no wrong.
Silas was engaged to a woman named Sarah; the delay to their marriage was caused by low funds. It was during the time of their engagement when William declared that Silas' fit was a visitation by Satan. Silas, deeply hurt by his friend's accusation, was interrogated and ostracized when William later accused him of stealing money from the senior deacon of the church and killing the ill deacon by not being by his side on his deathbed. William plotted so that Silas's own knife was found in place of the missing money, and would not support Silas's pleas that he was innocent of all charges. Knowing that William purposely planted the knife in the spot of the missing money, Silas was convinced that his name would be cleared by God's will. When the church drawing lots declared Silas Marner guilty, Silas told the church that William had set him up and declared that "there is no God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies, that bears witness against the innocent." Chapter 1, pg. 20. Shattered in his belief of his church and his friends, Silas knew that he could not stay in Lantern Yard any longer - especially after the marriage of Sarah and William Dane.