Silas Marner, a weaver of Raveloe. As a resident of Lantern Yard, he had been simple, trusting, and religious until falsely accused of theft. He then lost his faith in religion and people. Turning away from humanity, he directs his stunted affections toward his steadily increasing pile of coins. When Eppie enters his life, he regains his belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity. In his bewildered fashion, he accepts help from his Raveloe neighbors and decides to rear the motherless child who has captured his heart; under her influence, he no longer despairs because of the stolen money.
Eppie (Hephzibah), Marner’s adopted daughter. Fair-haired and blue-eyed, she captivates everyone who meets her, including young Aaron Winthrop, her future husband. After years of loneliness, Silas is sustained and his spirit nurtured by having her constantly near him. Even after she marries Aaron, she is determined to care for Marner, now frail and bent from years of unremitting toil at the loom.
Godfrey Cass, Eppie’s real father and the weak son of Squire Cass, a prominent Raveloe landowner. Blackmailed by his brother Dunstan, he lacks the moral courage to acknowledge to the public that Eppie is his daughter. Instead, fearing disinheritance, he keeps silent for many years, with his guilt gnawing at his soul. Later, however, when Dunstan’s skeleton is found in the Stone Pits, he finally confesses to Nancy his previous marriage to Molly, dead for sixteen years. Belatedly, he wants, with Nancy’s consent, to accept Eppie as his daughter. Thinking she will be overcome by his generosity, he is shocked by her determination to remain with Silas.
Dunstan (Dunsey) Cass
Dunstan (Dunsey) Cass, Godfrey’s dull-minded, spendthrift brother. Drunken and dissolute, he forces Godfrey to give him money by threatening to reveal the secret of Godfrey’s marriage to Molly, a low-bred, common woman. After stealing Silas’ gold, he falls into the Stone Pit. Years later, his skeleton, the gold still beside it, is found wedged between two huge stones.
Nancy Lammeter, Godfrey’s second wife, a lovely, decorous, and prim young woman. Although she lives by a narrow moral code, she surprises her husband, who has underestimated her, by courageously accepting the knowledge of his marriage to Molly.
Squire Cass, a prominent Raveloe landowner. Often lax in his discipline, he can be unyielding when aroused. At times, this inflexibility of character makes both his sons and tenants fear his anger.
William Dane, Silas Marner’s treacherous friend in Lantern Yard. While mouthing religious platitudes, he steals money from the church and implicates Marner, thus forcing the latter’s exile from the village. By planting Silas’ pocketknife at the scene of the crime, Dane can steal the money with impunity, knowing that his friend will receive the blame.
Aaron Winthrop, a sturdy young Raveloe citizen. For many years, he has worshiped Eppie; when she promises to marry him, he is overjoyed. He promises Silas security and love in the old man’s increasing feebleness.
Molly Cass, Godfrey’s first wife, a drug addict who marries him when he is drunk. She is walking to Raveloe to expose him as her husband. Fortunately for Godfrey, she takes an overdose of laudanum and freezes to death in the snow, leaving her baby to toddle into the warmth and security of Silas’ cottage.
Dolly Winthrop, Aaron’s mother, the wife of Raveloe’s wheelwright. She and her little son often visit Silas, and it is she who defends his right to keep Eppie when the villagers question Silas’ suitability as a parent.
Dunstan Cass is Godfrey’s younger brother. He is a disreputable, dishonest, spiteful young man who uses his knowledge of Godfrey’s secret marriage to blackmail him. Godfrey agrees to let Dunsey sell Godfrey’s horse, Wildfire, to raise money, but Dunsey rides the horse...
(The entire section is 2,049 words.)