What part does gold play in the lives of Godfrey Cass and Silas Marner?

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What part does gold play in the lives of Godfrey Cass and Silas Marner?

The novel Silas Marner by George Eliot is mainly centred on gold and its effect during the 1800’s around the time of the industrial revolution.  Two characters in the story are affected by gold in particular; they are Silas Marner, the weaver in Raveloe, and Godfrey Cass, the eldest son of the Squire, the richest man in Raveloe.  At the beginning of the story Silas Marner has a lot of gold and he loves it but he does not use it for his own wellbeing and lives a very frugal life.  Gold in this novel is represented in two ways; first there is the literal meaning that is gold in the form of money and then there is the meaning of the “soft warm curls” of Eppie’s golden hair.  Both are important to Silas Marner, in their own separate ways.

Marner’s life is a hard one; he lives on very little food, so as to preserve his vast stockpile of gold, and he is constantly looked upon with suspicion because of his profession, the common thought of the time was of distrust to “emigrants from the town to the country” or anyone whose background was unknown.  Marner previously lived in lantern yard, an area within a large town, and led a life of charity and he gave “a large proportion” of his money “to objects of piety and charity”.  However, Silas Marner has no faith when in Raveloe due to the events in Lantern Yard and gives no money to money to charity, therefore, his money builds up to a heap.

The events in Lantern Yard which forced Silas Marner into isolation, involved the death of the Deacon, by illness.  Unfortunately Marner had been watching over his deathbed and had been arrested by an attack of his catalepsy, which is seen as a spiritual vision of some sort in Lantern Yard but is viewed with suspicion in Raveloe.  While this was happening, Marner’s best friend William Dane steals the Deacon’s money with Marner’s knife to frame him it works and the whole thing is blamed on Marner.  When he arrives in Raveloe he avoids all the folk of the town because he thought that the reason he was blamed for the theft of the Deacon’s money was due to his own fault and not the greed of William Dane.  While in Lantern Yard Silas Marner has a fiancée who did not seem to like him much, she always had “fluctuation between” efforts “of regard and involuntary signs of shrinking and dislike.”

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During his time in Raveloe, Silas Marner builds up his money in an iron pot but when this becomes too small, he makes two leather bags to put the money into.  Marner always “thought fondly of the guineas” and he liked them the most of all his coins.  This shows that after the Lantern Yard scandal he replaces the need for human contact with that of his gold.  His dependence on seeing his gold is so great that he finds himself running “his hands in the bright coins” every night and even looking forward to doing so.  Unlike Godfrey ...

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