Godfrey is the eldest son of Squire Cass and the heir to the Cass estate. He is a good-natured young man, but weak-willed and usually unable to think of much beyond his immediate material comfort. As a young man he married an opium addict, Molly Farren, with whom he had a daughter. This secret marriage and Godfrey’s handling of it demonstrate the mixture of guilt and moral cowardice that keep him paralyzed for much of the novel. Godfrey consented to the marriage largely out of guilt and keeps the marriage secret because he knows his father will disown him if it ever comes to light.
Despite his physically powerful and graceful presence, Godfrey is generally passive. In this respect he is similar to Silas. However, Godfrey’s passivity is different from Silas’s, as his endless waffling and indecisiveness stem entirely from selfishness. Godfrey is subject to constant blackmail from Dunsey, who knows of Godfrey’s secret marriage, and Godfrey is finally freed of his malicious brother simply by an accident. He is delivered from Molly in a similarly fortuitous way, when Molly freezes to death while en route to Raveloe to expose their marriage to Godfrey’s family. Even Godfrey’s eventual confession to Nancy is motivated simply by his fright after the discovery of Dunsey’s remains. This confession comes years too late—by the time Godfrey is finally ready to take responsibility for Eppie, she has already accepted Silas as her father and does not want to replace him in her life.