The Characterism Of Human Nature In George Eliot's Silas Marner

Decent Essays

In George Eliot’s Silas Marner there is one character who exemplifies the realism of human nature more than any other, and that is Godfrey Cass. He is painted such a way that the very fabric of his characterization begs for analysis. Eliot analyzes human nature through Godfrey’s actions, or lack of them, and the resulting consequences of his decisions subsequently make Silas Marner a novel that draws a discussion of what “good-naturedness” means in regards to action versus passivity. Godfrey’s passivity is the driving force of the novel and in true Eliot fashion, it is his passivity that makes him both a victim and a villain. Godfrey is put forth as a “fine, open-faced, good-natured young man” (Eliot, 23). Immediately contrasted against his brother Dunstan, “a spiteful jeering fellow, who seemed to enjoy his drink the more when other people went dry,” Godfrey is painted a victim of circumstance and bad familial relations. The “condition of Godfrey Cass” is one among men who “had felt the keen point of sorrow or remorse” and whom “thanks to their native human-kindness” was never driven into “brutality” (Eliot, 29). Godfrey’s own circumstances are not his fault, rather he is better for them because he has not allowed them to change his nature. This framework is faulty, and nearly immediately after it is put forth, it is revoked. He is praised for being unlike his brother, who mocks him for his good-naturedness when he says “I’m so easy and good-natured. You’ll take any

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