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Silas Marner

Silas Marner

by George Eliot

Greed Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Do we not wile away moments of inanity or fatigued waiting by repeating some trivial movement or sound, until the repetition has bred a want, which is incipient habit? That will help us to understand how the love of accumulating money grows an absorbing passion in men whose imaginations, even in the very beginning of their hoard, showed them no purpose beyond it. (1.2.7)

Here, it's not desire for money (or anything else) that leads us to pursue wealth—it's the other way around. Greed develops when we pursue money, and pretty soon we're hoarding it all over our house and TLC is making a reality show about us.

Quote #2

In his truthful simple soul, not even the growing greed and worship of gold could beget any vice directly injurious to others. (1.5.3)

Greed doesn't ruin Silas. He's so good that even growing to love gold doesn't make him a bad person, although it does get in the way of forming normal relationships. Is Eliot suggesting that people's characters are fixed, and that greed in some people is bad but in others is merely a harmless vice? Does it matter whether you're greedy for something harmless (like Beanie Babies) or harmful (like heroin)?

Quote #3

The money had come to mark off his weaving into periods, and the money not only grew, but it remained with him. He began to think it was conscious of him, as his loom was, and he would on no account have exchanged those coins, which had become his familiars, for other coins with unknown faces. (1.2.7)

Silas is greedy for company rather than money, only he doesn't seem to know it. The fact that he's so particularly attached to these specific coins suggests that the money doesn't mean anything to him for its purchasing power. What he loves about money is that it doesn't change (like his friends at Lantern-Yard changed on him).

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