George Silverman’s Explanation by Charles Dickens
In George Silverman’s Explanation by Charles Dickens we have the theme of poverty, change, class, selflessness, love, sacrifice, control and acceptance. Narrated in the first person by a man called George Silverman the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Dickens may be exploring the theme of poverty. George as a child had a horrific upbringing. Often beaten by his parents his father appears to have struggled to get work in order to pay for food. In many ways Dickens is also using the setting of the cellar and its darkness to symbolise the darkness that was felt by George when he was a child and lived with his parents. He had no education and no real knowledge of the world so in reality George appears to have just accepted the world as it was. He knew no better or any different. Mr Hawkyard does begin the process of change in George’s life though his non-conforming religious beliefs do not appeal to George. However if it was not for Mr Hawkyard George would never have taken the first steps away from poverty and towards a good education that has served him well.
George also appears to lack confidence when he is at the farm house and studying in college. He mixes with very few people though is a tutor to some students. This may be important as George’s social inadequacies might be directly linked to the fact that he was isolated as a child by his parents in the cellar. He falls in love with Sylvia yet he does not venture towards telling her how he feels. It is as though George lacks the ability to truly connect with people in his earlier years. In many ways it might be possible that George does not trust people. Fearing that should he allow anyone close they will treat him as his parents treated him, cruelly. There is also no doubting that Dickens is exploring the theme of sacrifice. George though he falls in love with Adelina makes a sacrifice that is not only honourable but the sign of a gentleman too. Rather than pursue a relationship himself with Adelina George pushes both Adelina and Granville closer together. Though he is fully aware of the fact that Lady Fareway will disapprove of the relationship because Granville is poor. If anything George may see a younger version of himself in Granville and as such tries his best to make sure that Granville succeeds in life.
Lady Fareway shows her true colours when she suggests that George has made some money from marrying Adeline and Granville. This may be important as throughout the story Lady Fareway has been in control of the world she lives in. She has direct access to money and appears to view people or judge them by their wealth. Those who are poorer than Lady Fareway. She believes she can control. People like George for instance are obligated to Lady Fareway. In fact throughout the story George is obligated to others. He is obligated and thankful to Mr Hawkyard for his intervention and similarly he is obligated and thankful to Lady Fareway. So thankful in fact that George acts rather timid when he is forced to resign his position. It is as though George knows that he has a place and role in society and that place is not greater than Lady Fareway’s.
The end of the story is also interesting as the reader feels as though George as he nears the end of his life is seeking acceptance. Just as he did with his mother when he crawled up her body. In life George has just wanted to fit in and be accepted for who he was. As the title of the story suggests George has written an explanation of his life leaving it for others to judge as to whether he has been a good man or not. Though on the information provided by George most readers will likely suggest that George was a kind, honest and good man. He faced personal difficulties and he overcame them (with the help of others). Though unfortunately he does not appear to have made a connection with many people. Something which may not be a bad thing. George still has the trust of Adelina and Granville and some of his peers in college. In reality George hasn’t done too badly. He sacrificed the woman he loved in order that a younger man could be happy. He thanked Mr Hawkyard for all his efforts yet the reader senses that George may be apologizing for his actions due to the fact that he has craved to be accepted all of his life.