A common student activity while reading is to create a plot diagram of the events from a novel. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but also to reinforce major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard that captures the concept of the narrative arc in a novel by creating a six-cell storyboard that contains the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene from the novel in the sequence: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
The novel starts in the present and flashes back to when Silas was a young man in Lantern Yard. In this religious community, Silas was revered, had friends, and a fiance. However, he was soon framed by his best friend and expelled from the town. He moved to Raveloe to begin a new life.
Silas has been hurt badly, so he has become a reclusive miser, full of anger and despair. This makes him the subject of rumors and lies.
Readers are introduced to the Cass family: The Squire and his three sons, Godfrey, Dustan, and Bob. Godfrey, the eldest son, is hiding a scandalous secret, which his brother, Dustan, is aware of and uses as blackmail against Godfrey. Godfrey is secretly married to an opium-addicted woman from a neighboring town. After squandering all his money and unable to get more from Godfrey, Dunstan robs Silas Marner, leaving him with nothing for the second time in his life. But one night, Molly decides to get revenge on Godfrey by showing up with their child at the Squire's party. She never makes it. Instead, she dies in the snow, and her baby wanders to Silas’ house.
Relieved that Molly is dead, Godfrey marries his true love, Nancy, a woman he was courting during his marriage. Silas ends up raising the child as his own, and it changes his life for the better; he gains friends, respect, and a replacement for his robbed gold: true love. Godfrey, however, vows that he will never forget the child, Eppie, and promises to keep an eye on her. After 16 years, Godfrey and Nancy, who were unable to have children of their own, try to take Eppie from Silas. For the third time, Silas is faced with despair.
Unable to leave Silas, her true father, and the life she has known, Eppiem, now 18, passes on the Cass’ offer to be their child. This makes Silas the happiest he’s ever been, and he knows now that he will trust her for the rest of his life. Silas also has his gold returned to him after the Cass family finds Dunstan’s dead body at the bottom of a dried-up quarry near Silas’ cottage, with Silas' gold next to him.
With all things having been restored to him, Silas decides to go back to Lantern Yard to see if any light was shed on his innocence. However, when he and Eppie get there, the town is gone. After they return to Raveloe, Eppie marries Aaron Winthrop. Silas, Eppie, and Aaron live happily in Silas’ cottage for years to come.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create a visual plot diagram of Silas Marner.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
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| Emerging |
| Beginning |
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Descriptive and Visual Elements
Cells have many descriptive elements, and provide the reader with a vivid representation.
Cells have many descriptive elements, but flow of cells may have been hard to understand.
Cells have few descriptive elements, or have visuals that make the work confusing.
Cells have few or no descriptive elements.
Textables have three or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have four or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have five or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have six or more spelling/grammar errors.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has done both peer and teacher editing.
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has either teacher or peer editing, but not both.
Student has done neither peer, nor teacher editing.
Work shows no evidence of any effort.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram, but one or more is confusing.
Parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot difficult to follow.
Almost all of the parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot very difficult to follow.
Both Silas Marner and A Christmas Carol have similar settings based in English in the same time period. Hence the cultural elements and the background would have similarities based on the time period. Students can find further similarities and differences and note them down using a Venn diagram.
Students can also make comparisons based on the character traits of the main characters and the side characters. Teachers can help students by asking questions like are there any side characters who acted as mentors for the main characters? What are the villains or the antagonists like in both stories?
Ask the students to make plot diagrams of both stories using the six stages from exposition to resolution. Guide the students in making these plot diagrams so they can get a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the plot.
After students are done making and understanding the plot diagrams ask them to put both the diagrams side by side and compare each stage of both stories separately. For instance, a comparison of the main conflict in both stories or the resolution where both Silas and Scrooge are lonely misers but they find happiness and family in the end.
In order to understand the differences and similarities between the stories, students can compare the writing styles of both the authors and their backgrounds. For instance, other stories written by these authors, and their personal backgrounds and upbringing. These small details will help students big time.
The intensifying plot of "Silas Marner" includes Silas's growing indifference to his personal life in favor of his career, the amassing of riches, and his growing estrangement from the Raveloe community. It also covers the story of Godfrey and his brother and the death of Eppie’s mother who is also Godfrey’s previous wife. This part acts as the bridge between the conflict and the climax leading to more interesting events in the story.
The story's finale has the most suspense. The turning point in "Silas Marner" comes when Godfrey Cass admits he is Eppie's biological father and tries to claim her, forcing Eppie to make a significant choice. Eppie however only considers Silas as her father and guardian and Silas has also claimed her as his daughter.
After his horrific encounter in Lantern Yard, Silas became isolated and work-obsessed, and this is represented by the loom. It stands for his isolation from interpersonal relationships.