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In the novel Silas Marner, by George Eliot, the characters are in a search for happiness. One character named Godfrey Cass is disappointed in his search when relying on wealth and luck, instead of love, does not lead him to happiness. Another character, Silas Marner, looks first to a pile of gold that only consumes his life until he starts loving and caring for a child, who finally brings him happiness. The lives of these characters show that wealth or material objects do not bring as much happiness as love.
Godfrey Cass believes that he can use his wealth to buy happiness in place of love that he has neglected to give. In the novel, he has a daughter named Eppie whom he disowns for eighteen years. After eighteen years, Godfrey wants her back to fill a hole in his life and make him happy. He believes that his wealth can replace his missing love. He admits this when speaking to Eppie, “though I haven’t been what a father should ha’ been to you all these years, I wish to do the utmost in my power for you for the rest of my life and provide for you as my only child” (714). However, Eppie “can’t feel as [she’s] got any father but one,” (715) meaning Silas Marner, who cared for and loved her for sixteen years. The lack of love that Godfrey has given Eppie can not be replaced with wealth, and Godfrey’s life must remain incomplete.
Silas Marner was once incomplete and unhappy also when he was “cut off from faith and love,” (602) and lived only to collect a hoard of gold. He shut out the rest of the world and any love he had for anything with it. “His life had reduced itself to the functions of weaving and hoarding” (602). In this life with only gold, and without love, Silas was an unhappy and lonely man. Later in his life when he is happy, he recalls counting his gold every night and “how his soul was utterly desolate”(710). He remains in this bleak position for fifteen years until his gold is lost and replaced with something to love.
When Silas loses his gold, he begins to experience happiness again after opening up to a child. The child, Eppie, replaces Silas’s gold, but unlike the gold, she requires the love and care of a person.
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The lives of Silas Marner and Godfrey Cass illustrate how wealth or objects will not lead you to happiness, but that love will. Both men were on a search, but one of them got lost.
Eliot, George. Silas Marner. London: Penguin Books. 1996.