What is the start of Silas's preoccupation with gold in Silas Marner?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In the novel Silas Marner, by George Elliot, we can describe the character of Silas as a immigrant that resides in the town of Raveloe and who used to be a very well-liked man in his former hometown. As a result of a mean and nasty set-up by one of his so-called friends, Silas not only loses his friends, but his reputation and, what is worse, the woman whom he loves.For this reason, he leaves his hometown and heads for Raveloe.

Turned into a hermit, Silas enters the village of Raveloe an eccentric and isolated man. He wishes to befriend nobody and it is his behavior, combined with his huge, odd, brown eyes, what set him aside from everyone else.

As a talented weaver, Silas demonstrates a creativity that earns him not only a mythical reputation, but a lot of money in his new town. Silas simply sees for the first time that he is able to make a living for himself. This gives him a bigger sense of self-sufficiency that distances him further from the population.Yet, this success provides him with some closure and consolation for all that he had lost before.

Therefore, the need of hoarding gold is not proportional to a need to save money. His gold is a symbol of his success. He was not successful in his former town, hence, being a successful man in Raveloe is like starting over. He enjoys looking at the gold, feeling it, and even analyzing the shape of the coins. It has nothing to do with economy: It is simply another eccentricity developed as a way to prove himself a worthy person, after all.

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