Silas Marner

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Molly Farren Character Analysis

Godfrey’s first, secret wife and the mother of Eppie, Molly is from a lower class family background than Godfrey. Molly is addicted to opium, and while she tries to blame her problems on her husband’s neglect, she recognizes her responsibility for the control opium has over her life. She dies of an overdose during a snowstorm while traveling through the snowstorm to the Red House, where a New Years party is occurring, in order to spitefully reveal herself as Godfrey’s wife in front of his family and many villagers.

Molly Farren Quotes in Silas Marner

The Silas Marner quotes below are all either spoken by Molly Farren or refer to Molly Farren. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Faith Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Silas Marner published in 1996.
Chapter 12 Quotes

Molly knew that the cause of her dingy rags was not her husband's neglect, but the demon Opium to whom she was enslaved, body and soul, except in the lingering mother's tenderness that refused to give him her hungry child. She knew this well; and yet, in the moments of wretched unbenumbed consciousness, the sense of her want and degradation transformed itself continually into bitterness towards Godfrey. He was well off; and if she had her rights she would be well off too.

Related Characters: Godfrey Cass, Molly Farren
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:

Molly Farren sets out one winter night to find Godfrey and reveal the truth of their connection. She is motivated by bitterness, because Godfrey is enjoying an extravagant lifestyle at his father’s house and she is living in poverty. This passage captures both Molly’s rational understanding of her situation and her emotional understanding of her situation. From a rational point of view, Molly knows that she is poor because of her opium addiction. Her money goes toward acquiring the drug. But when she is sober, when she feels wretched “unbenumbed consciousness,” she feels bitter toward Godfrey because she sees her poverty in contrast to his wealth.

Her bitterness is not without some foundation, however, as she points out that “if she had her rights” she would be wealthy like Godfrey. By this she means that if Godfrey were to acknowledge her as his wife, she would be entitled to his wealth. Although Godfrey provides for wife and daughter, Molly sees that this is different than how he would treat a different woman. Her bitterness is a rebellion against social classism. She wants to be treated the same way as any other woman married to Godfrey would be treated. Molly’s situation is partly in her control and partly beyond her control, but her choice to link herself to Godfrey leads to her perpetual unhappiness.


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Chapter 13 Quotes

Godfrey felt a great throb: there was one terror in his mind at that moment: it was, that the woman might not be dead. That was an evil terror—an ugly inmate to have found a nestling-place in Godfrey's kindly disposition; but no disposition is a security from evil wishes to a man whose happiness hangs on duplicity.

Related Characters: Silas Marner, Molly Farren
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

Silas Marner finds Molly's body outside his hut and rushes to Squire Cass’s party in search of the doctor. Godfrey overhears the news and hurries with the doctor, Mrs. Winthrop, and Silas Marner to inspect the woman. Godfrey waits outside Marner’s hut in great agitation as the doctor cares for Molly. He wonders as he waits if she is really dead, and he feels terror at the thought that she might not be. This passage explains Godfrey’s terror as the natural consequence of his circumstance, which has twisted his heart and mind enough that he wishes for another person's death. His wish arises from a desire to protect himself and his happiness. If Molly is dead, Godfrey's secret dies with her. 

This passage describes how such a cruel thought could arise from the mind of a man like Godfrey, who is weak of character, but kind. Eliot universalizes Godfrey’s experience, pointing out that any man who is living a duplicitous life will succumb to evil when it is necessary to maintain the duplicity his happiness is based on. For Godfrey to be happy, he must wish for Molly’s death. If he had never gotten himself into this situation, Godfrey would never have been the type of person who wished any ill on another being.

Chapter 20 Quotes

“She thinks I did wrong by her mother as well as by her. She thinks me worse than I am. But she must think it: she can never know all. It's part of my punishment, Nancy, for my daughter to dislike me.”

Related Characters: Godfrey Cass (speaker), Godfrey Cass, Eppie, Nancy Lammeter, Molly Farren
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

After Godfrey and Nancy fail to convince Eppie to live with them, Godfrey reflects on Eppie’s dislike of him. He is troubled by Eppie’s refusal, which is the reason the couple agrees to leave the girl with her adoptive father. Godfrey says that he knows Eppie blames him for what he did to her, as well as to her mother. He thinks that Eppie’s opinion of him is too harsh, but resigns himself to this fact because it is part of his “punishment.” Godfrey’s odd opinion shows both his inherently selfish nature, as well as the ways he has begun to repent for his past actions. He is reluctant to think ill of himself, and, as usual, pushes the blame off onto another person. He thinks Eppie is too harsh because she “can never know all” of what he’s been through. But, at the same time, he is more willing to accept Eppie’s opinion than he once would have been. He sees her opinion as fate, or the will of God. It is inevitable that she dislike him because of his past actions.

At one point, Godfrey would have been happy to escape scot-free from any blame for his misdeeds. Now, he is more willing to bear the burden of living childless after having chosen to reject a biological child. Despite this new understanding of God’s will, Godfrey is as ready as ever to play the victim, rather than to take responsibility. His imperfect character ends the book in imperfect happiness, a prime example of the book’s "moral" lesson.

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Molly Farren Character Timeline in Silas Marner

The timeline below shows where the character Molly Farren appears in Silas Marner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...himself or, he threatens, he’ll reveal Godfrey’s secret marriage to a drunken, low-class woman named Molly Farren. (full context)
Chapter 12
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
...wife, unknown to him, is making her way through the village to the Red House. Molly, his wife, has decided to appear at the Squire’s party with her child in her... (full context)
Chapter 14
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
Molly’s burial occurs without great notice, and without any tears, but her death has redirected the... (full context)