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Themes

Money makes the world go round—or does it? Is wealth the gold you can bury under your bed (or stash in an offshore account), or is it a pile of warm curls under your hand? Silas Marner answer that question pretty decisively, but not without some complications along the way. There's no doubt in the novel that money is good to have, and the specific wartime setting means that the villagers aren't exactly poor. It doesn't seem like Eliot wants us to discount the importance of money—after all, Silas Marner is at least partly a realistic portrait of life. So how much of the book deals with money as a symbol, and how much deals with it as a necessary and vital part of life?

Questions About Wealth

  1. What are the various kinds of wealth in Silas Marner? Who has real wealth?
  2. What can wealth do for people in Silas Marner? Why doesn't Eppie accept Godfrey's offer of adoption?
  3. Why does Silas accumulate gold? What purpose does it serve in his life, and what kind of relationship with it does he develop?
  4. What is the relationship between work and wealth? What kinds of work do people do in the novel?

Chew on This

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

In Silas Marner, true wealth comes from relationships rather than from money. Too much money ends up making people poor.

Wealth should be appreciated communally. It holds society together rather than bolsters an individual's social standing.

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