How does George Eliot vividly portray Silas Marner's despair after losing his gold in Silas Marner?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Silas Marner first sees the empty hole where his gold has been, his "heart leap[s] violently," as he cannot believe the gold is gone. He tries to control his terror. But, when he despairs of hope, Marner's hands tremble, he screams, and he cries in desolation. He then totters to his loom in order to assure himself of some reality. 

As Marner's realization that his gold is missing sinks into him, he is absolutely devastated, as his life revolves around this gold alone. In Chapter V, when Silas Marner returns to his cottage which has never been disturbed during his twelve-year residency, he enters and places his candle "unsuspectingly" on the floor by his loom. But, when he sees the empty hole in his floor, Marner feels his heart "leap violently." Yet, there is a suspension of belief that this gold is really gone. He feels terror because it has been solely his gold that

...gathered his power of loving together into a hard isolation like its own.

Marner's gold has been the one joy in his life. In a ritual every night, he waits until he has his supper before he counts the gold, but he places the bags upon his table before him as he eats--

For joy is the best of wine, and Silas's guineas were a golden wine of that sort. 

In his temporary suspension of the truth, Marner looks around again, hoping that he may have missed seeing his bags of gold, but they are not visible anywhere. He again puts his hands to his head and brings forth from his heart "a wild ringing scream, the cry of desolation." After this, he sits at his loom, his "strongest assurance of reality."
Finally, the possibility that a thief has taken it comes to Marner and with it the hope that this thief can be caught. He does not desire that the thief be punished, either; he just wants his gold returned to him. For, the loss of his gold has "left his soul like a forlorn traveler on an unknown desert."

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Silas Marner

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