What are the themes in Silas Marner?

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One of the most important themes in Silas Marner is the power of faith. Although Silas initially loses his faith due to his appalling treatment by the people of Lantern Yard, he eventually regains it through the love of little Eppie.

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In the right hands, faith can be a very powerful force for good. It can inspire people to help their fellow men and women, to reach out to them in their hour of need. It can also have a transformative impact on the soul, making us realize that we are a small part of a big world to which we owe certain responsibilities.

The power of faith is much in evidence in Silas Marner. Silas loses his faith after being falsely accused of theft by the religious community of Lantern Yard. Silas's ill-treatment turns him into a miserly recluse who shuts himself off from the rest of the world.

In due course, however, Silas will rediscover not just his faith in God, but his faith in humanity. All this is because of the deep love he develops for Eppie, the little orphan girl who comes into his life and transforms it completely.

In caring for Eppie, Silas is able to reestablish the connection with humanity that was lost when he left Lantern Yard under a cloud. Loving and caring for Eppie prepares Silas to love and care for others. Of necessity, this involves reentering society and becoming an active member of the local community. Silas duly does this and starts attending church and making friends in Raveloe.

The love of Eppie has worked wonders. It has not only restored Silas's humanity, but his faith in God and other people.

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What is the theme of the novel Silas Marner?

The novel is long enough, and with characters dynamic enough, to see why it would have more than just one theme. However, a universal theme in the novel is Wants versus Needs. 

If you think about it, Silas Marner lived his life entirely based on things he thought that he wanted. In Lantern Yard, he wanted the lifestyle of his religious sect. He wanted a girlfriend, so he got one. He wanted friends, so he got those, too. He wanted to be a part of something, so he was a part of his congregation. He wanted to demonstrate his loyalty, so he became popular there. He wanted to marry his girlfriend and continue life as a happy man. Then all came crashing down after his best friend betrayed him and framed him for robbery. 

Still, Silas was too blinded to realize his friend was not a true friend. His girlfriend ended up with this man who betrayed him. After the robbery his religious sect did not even give him a chance to plead his case. Were these things those that he really what he wanted? Were they even what he needed?

Anger continually festered in Silas once in Raveloe, isolating himself ever further. Never did he give a thought to the idea that, regardless of what he had once wanted, he may actually be in need of something very different. Silas just reverted to his pattern of wanting and, this time, began to want gold, collecting and counting it. Collecting gold, living on his own, keeping to himself, and becoming an antisocial recluse became his new wants but were definitely not his needs.

Mercifully, baby Eppie appears right when the gold is stolen. The golden-haired child makes an instant impression on the isolated Silas. Immediately, he realizes that he has finally found what he needs: a center, an anchor, something to base his life on. He is more than willing to take Eppie in and raise her as his daughter and devote his life to her. 

This universal theme shows that what we want and what we need do not appear hand-in-hand. What we need often becomes known only as a result of a life-changing event, an event we may desperately need. 

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