by George Eliot
Silas Marner Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
And [he] had lost his money too, so as he had nothing but what he worked for week by week, and when the weaving was going down too—for there was less and less flax spun—and Master Marner was none so young. (2.16.26)
This sentence is an example of George Eliot's historical precision. That throw-away line, "there was less and less flax spun," keys into a big historical change: the Industrial Revolution, which is basically outsourcing Silas's job. In the cities, factories are churning out cheap fabric that makes his loom irrelevant.
For Silas would not consent to have a grate and oven added to his conveniences. (2.16.27)
Here's another example of how money, for Silas, is a symbol rather than a tool. Even though Godfrey would give him whatever he asked for, Silas is so attached to his things that he doesn't want any improvements. He cooks over a fire and rejects a stove top—this is like you stashing pennies in your piggy bank and hanging on to your old Nokia and refusing to get a smartphone, even if your parents offer it to you.
It's natural he should be disappointed at not having any children: every man likes to have somebody to work for and lay by for, and he always counted so on making a fuss with 'em when they were little. (2.17.14)
Nancy excuses Godfrey's disappointment in not having children because, she says, men like to have somebody to accumulate wealth for (to "lay by"). There are some similarities here between Nancy's conception of wealth and Silas's—neither sees it as useful for what it can buy in the present—but the difference is that Silas accumulates wealth simply to have it; Nancy thinks that men like to acquire wealth so they can take care of their children. No word on what women like to do with money.