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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.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Silas Marner!