their imagination is almost barren of the images that feed desire and hope,

Category: Daily Life | Type: Discussion | Title: Silas Marner (in Context) | Author: George Eliot | Vol: PART ONE | Ch: CHAPTER I

Centuries of artisanal labor and monotonously limited prospects, shadowed always by hardship have shrunk the inhabitants' imaginations and left them devoid of the imagery that is the basis of desire and hope. Their default position is "fear." Having abundant food on the table, not being anxious about the next harvest, and having the prospect of a secure old age would have freed their minds to consider other matter. Poverty and suffering adversely affect the imagination as much as lead paint does intelligence.  

In especially Adam Bede, Felix Holt, and Silas Marner, Eliot documents how the conditions of the time and place shaped the way people thought and felt then. Thomas Hardy will do something similar. 

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