Consider how imagination is used in this chapter which is the reader's first introduction to both of the Cass brothers and the situation that Godfrey faces. After explaining how Godfrey's rather impetuous first marriage has left him in a very vulnerable state that is being exploited by his brother, Dunstan, the narrator goes on to use the metaphor of being tied to describe Godfrey' plight:
Instead of keeping fast hold of the strong silken rope by which Nancy would have drawn him safe to the green banks where it was easy to step firmly, he had let himself be dragged back into mud and slime, in which it was useless to struggle. He had made ties for himself which robbed him of all wholesome motive and were a constant exasperation.
Note the usage of the metaphor in this quote, which clearly compares the two different ways his life could have gone through reference to the "strong silken rope" that marriage with Nancy would have allowed him to grasp, and then the "mud and slime" and the "ties" that have landed him in his present predicament. This is of course a predicament to which there is no easy solution, which contributes to Godfrey's feelings of despair at this point in the text.