Warning: major spoilers follow for the plot of Silas Marner.
In George Eliot (Marian Evans)'s novel Silas Marner, the eponymous weaver's life goes through several significant stages:
- his years-long period of living alone and hoarding gold;
- the miserable period immediately after his gold is stolen;
- his time of happiness after Eppie comes into his life.
The two most major life-changing events which happen to him during his time in Raveloe are of course the theft of his gold and the arrival of Eppie. Each of these has a huge effect not only on his way of living but even on his personality.
Towards the end of the novel, he gets some closure on the first of these events, when his gold is returned to him and the thief identified. But wouldn't his life would have gone on in pretty much the same way if this had never happened? Or is the recovery of the money and Dunstan's body somehow more momentous than just to make Silas realise how little the gold matters to him now?
How does the revelation in chapter 18 make the story different from what it would have been if the theft had remained a mystery?