In Silas Marner describe how George Eliot brings out Silas Marner's despair over the lost money?    

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To fully understand the choice of language used to express Silas's despair over the stolen gold, let's go back and explore the language used to explain his love for it.

Because of the sad incident at Lantern Yard, Silas felt "cut off" from the life that he loved. Over at Lantern Yard, money was one of the many enjoyable aspects of life. He even shared his money with his church and in "acts of piety." Money was never fully his, but he did not care. By then, money served the purpose of serving others, as well as himself. 

Now, however, he is alone and all the money that he earns is his. For the first time he gets to learn how much money can buy and how powerful he could be by just possessing this money. No longer does he have to feel sorry for himself over the loss of life at Lantern Yard.

that habit of looking towards the money and grasping it with a sense of fulfilled effort made a loam that was deep enough for the seeds of desire[...] it was brighter in the gathering gloom.

Therefore, Silas obviously used the money as a way to soothe his soul, more than anything. He depended on it to remind himself that he was “OK” after all, and that he didn’t need his former life anyway. He was entirely enveloped in the material to solve the immaterial.

And then….it was all gone.

Choice of words

Now that it is clear what the money mean to Silas, let’s look at what happens when this token of subsistence and spiritual healing is unfairly taken away by Dunstan Cass.  Silas has already gone through the suffering of being falsely accused and having his lifestyle and reputation stolen by his “best friend.”  Now, he finds himself in the same situation, only that this time he has absolutely nothing to live on. His earnings, his “strength,” is gone twice over.

It is no wonder why Eliot uses the exact opposite choice of words used from the time Silas got the money to express his anguish of it being gone. The language used is a strong combination of words that elicit in the reader vicarious feelings of:

  • Outrage, or the initial shock that sets in when something unexpected takes place

The sight of the empty hole made his heart leap violently

  • Denial, or the thinking that such thing could not be possible

but the belief that his gold was gone could not come at once

  • Shock, or the freeze-factor thinking that stops us cold

only terror, and the eager effort to put an end to the terror

  • Negotiation, or the idea that there may be a way out if it

the idea of a thief began to present itself[…]a thief might be caught and made to restore the gold

  • Anger, or the onset of reluctance and wrath

"Robbed!" said Silas, gaspingly. "I've been robbed! I want the constable—and the Justice—and Squire Cass—and Mr. Crackenthorp."

  • Grief, when sadness begins to take the place of other emotions

Silas […] was feeling the withering desolation of that bereavement.

  • Loss,  or when it is finally clear that it is all over

the fence was broken down—the support was snatched away. Marner's thoughts could no longer move in their old round

  • Mourning, missing and trying to take over life again, carrying on the pain of a loss

As he sat weaving, he every now and then moaned low, like one in pain: it was the sign that his thoughts had come round again to the sudden chasm—to the empty evening-time.

Arguably, Silas does go through what we could call in the modern world the “steps to grieving.” They start with shock, disbelief, negotiation and denial, and peak at despair, depression and loss of self.

However, the cycle completes with acceptance, and resignation. At most, redemption may even mercifully show up somewhere in the form of a surprise, charity, or a miracle. Such was the case with Silas with the entrance of Eppie (Hephizibah) in his life shortly after the loss of the gold.