We Fear The Unknown Essay, Research Paper
A theme that is very much present in the first chapters of Silas Marner is that of the fact that we fear when we don t understand. What we can t comprehend is automatically labeled as evil that is the source of what first happens to Silas.
Whenever Silas goes into trance or a fix, he can t respond to anything that s around him, in it s essence, he becomes totally catatonic for some moments. When the Church found out about this, they became afraid, they became scared because they didn t know why Silas was going into fixes or trances.
They automatically labeled Silas as being visited by the devil when there were as many reasons to believe that he was being visited by the Virgin Mary as there were to believe he was visited by the devil. They were scared by Sila s illness because they didn t know it was an illness, very much like epilepsy. That s the reason why the labeled him as being visited by the devil and made him an outcast.
That wouldn t be the first time Silas would become an outcast. He also becomes an outcast from society. He is rejected and badly spoken of. Men at the taverns say that he is a dead man walking. They think that he is dead when he goes into the fixes and comes back to life when he gets out of the fixes. They hypothesize about his soul leaving his body and coming back later, but no one asks Silas about what is really happening when he is in his catatonic state.
A great example of how people fear what they can t comprehend is the common tradition of saying God bless you when someone sneezes. This come from the belief of that a sneeze meant that your soul was trying to get out of your body, when in fact, it s just the natural response to a thing that your body might think of as a disease, illness, etc. This is another example on how we label facts that we can t comprehend as evil or just plain superstition out of fear.
Another one is the custom of covering your mouth when you yawn comes from a more less similar belief. In the medieval times when religion was more predominant than science, it was though that when people yawned, it meant that an evil spirit was trying to get into them when in fact it s just your body response to keep you from falling asleep by sending more oxygen to your brain. Yet another example on how we make up explanations that cause fear when we don t understand a process, illness or act.
He is an outcast because of an illness not because of his acts. He is an outcast because people fear what they can t understand. This is still pretty common in our times. Prejudice is based on not understanding a trait that someone possesses and it s up to us to make a change.