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Themes

Where there's wealth, there's greed. But in Silas Marner, the greed, like the wealth, isn't quite where you expect it to be. Silas may have all the money, but, if greed means a selfish desire to acquire, he's the least greedy character we meet. Although he wants to acquire money, he doesn't want it out of any desire or greed. In contrast, Godfrey, who wants Eppie without having to work for her, and who wants Nancy without deserving her, seems to harbor a lot of greed. What does greed mean when money doesn't seem to mean much?

Questions About Greed

  1. What different types of greed does Eliot explore? What is desirable in the world of the novel?
  2. What's the relationship between greed and wealth? Greed and poverty?
  3. Are there any instances in which greed becomes a positive emotion? Can greed be channeled for good?
  4. What happens to the greedy characters? How is greed punished (if it is)?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Silas Marner, greed is an antisocial force. In other words, Greed is the main emotion that keeps people apart.

Eliot suggests that greed is acceptable when it is applied to personal relationships. To be greedy for someone's company is positive force in a community.

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