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George Eliot's Silas Marner

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In George Eliot's Silas Marner, the reader is introduced to a number of characters that possess the elements of selfishness. Silas Marner, Godfrey Cass, and Dunstan Cass exhibit this trait numerous times during novel. Even though these characters all exhibit selfishness during this story, by the end their characteristics are not similar at all. This schism of development is one of the themes of the story that will be analyzed. Regardless of the similar characteristics characters may possess in the beginning of the story, they can become very different people by the end. These characteristics are not limiting and do not hinder the development of a character.

Dunstan Cass is a character that the reader finds extraordinarily selfish. The degree to which he manipulates people to gain more money and have a good time is ridiculous. In one instance, the speaker takes the reader into the mind of "Dunsey" as he is contemplating his plan to further scam his brother, Godfrey. In more than one instance, Dunstan reassures himself that he is more cunning than his brother and that manipulating him has become more like a game than anything else. Dunstan gathers loans from his brother and other townspeople and never pays them off. The precious gold of Silas Marner also falls prey to the tireless machine of greed that lies within

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Dunstan's desensitized mind. The fact that he is taking something of much value away from a simple man like Silas Marner never crosses his mind as he makes his way into Marner's house and steals the gold pieces. The purpose of the theft is not for the sake of being mean, but rather it is an opportunity to bail himself out of another hole he has dug by manipulating Godfrey. Of the three characters that are first introduced to the reader as being selfish, Dunstan remains cold and selfish even at the end of the novel. He does not learn anything and he does not go through a dramatic change in his life that will force him to re-evaluate his actions.

Godfrey Cass, brother to Dunstan Cass, is perhaps a little less selfish than his brother. He does not make manipulation a daily chore like his brother. Nevertheless, he still exhibits certain aspects of selfishness. From the outside, the reader is let in on a dark secret of Godfrey's. He has had relations with another woman and has a child, but refuses to recognize them. Molly, this woman, is poor and is barely able to survive. Repelled by her poverty, Godfrey rejects Molly and focuses on attracting another, more extravagant woman named Nancy. Nancy allows more respect to come to him from the townspeople and he is comfortable in that he will be with someone close to his own social status. He disregards his former relationship with the woman who bore his child in order to be more socially correct. When Silas takes Eppie, Godfrey's child, under his wing, Godfrey secretly sends Eppie money and supplies. He feels regret and guilt as he reflects on his past decisions. He does not let his true feelings of regret toward leaving his child show because his reputation would be radically diminished. Godfrey, a character who is very selfish in the beginning of the

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novel goes through a rebirth. He realizes his faults and confesses to Silas and the rest of the town, attempting to compensate for his neglect and rejection of Eppie and Molly. Godfrey, along with Silas, is one of the three characters of similar characteristics that do change by the end of the novel.

Silas Marner first exhibits signs of selfishness when he starts hording all of the gold he accumulates. He keeps this fortune hidden under his floor and only takes it out to count it late at



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