In George Eliot’s British classic, Silas Marner, students follow the protagonist, Silas, through his life’s journey of despair and enlightenment. Forsaken and feeling the deepest despair of his life, Silas is forced to suppress his past when he finds a mysterious gift on his hearth. Silas, an old miser full of hate and mistrust, is given the most precious gift, a new life.
Despite being his means of income, the loom symbolizes Silas’ solitude and his industrious nature. It also aids in portraying Silas’ desolate life and adds to the metaphor of Silas as a spider: hunched over his loom, with his rather large, protruding eyes, weaving constantly.
As a universal symbol, hearths typically represent the warmth and happiness of a home. For Silas, it symbolizes much more. It represents the gift that came to him, his child Eppie, and the love that he found after he had been forsaken and stolen from.
Silas’ money becomes a symbol of his own demise. He begins to worship his gold coins and believes that the faces on each are his friends. His attachment to inanimate object shows his lack of trust in others. Unlike people, they cannot betray him, leave him, or forsake him.