How has Godfrey's position changed in Silas Marner?

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Gracie O'Hara eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Godfrey Cass is the son of Squire Cass, the wealthiest person in the village of Raveloe and a major landowner. As the eldest son, he is born to a position of wealth and power. He is generally liked in the village, being good-looking and amiable. Unlike his father, who is a selfish bully, and his nasty drunk, corrupt younger brother Dunsey, Godfrey is not a bad person; but he is somewhat weak, lacking any firm purpose or moral sense. Although he means well and is not lacking in compassion, he is basically ineffectual. He lacks the strength to repair his family fortune, resist his brother's blackmail, and be open about his first marriage. His secrecy and guilt lead him to become bitter and despondent.

His marriage to Nancy has a positive effect on his character. Even though the revelation of his being Eppie's father initially harms his reputation, he eventually becomes aware of how he has drifted into being a person he does not admire, and he resolves to transform himself into a better and more honest person. Thus his character arc and reputation progress from mildly positive to negative and back to positive.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Godfrey's position in society used to be that of the promising heir to a vast property. People viewed her as an extension of his own father. He was tall, handsome, amiable, and seemed truly interested in the well-being of his father's estate. This is, of course, because people could compare him to his youngest brother, Dunsey, who was the epitome of irresponsible behavior, was rude, double-dealing, a drunk, a gambler, and an unreliable idle man.

The problem is that money was dwindling, and Godfrey did little to make any changes. Instead he showed his true weaknesses by following his brother's bad steps, by marrying an opium addict secretly, by having a child with her, and by allowing Dunsey's double dealing to ruin him and leave him without money.

Therefore, people were seeing these things taking place and slowly began to change their opinion of the righteousness of the heir to Cass. This is how his position began to change.

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