Saturday, May 25, 2019
Elizabeth Gaskell and Industrialization Essay
Two of Elizabeth Gaskells novelsNorth and southeast and Mary Bartonprovide a critical perceptiveness into the authors attempt at probing the issues surrounding industrialization in Victorian England. Apart from the fact that both novels feature female characters as protagonists, they also highlight the classic struggle amid abundant and poor classes in the face of an emerging industrial society. Without losing track of the flow of the stories plots, Gaskell is subject to control the vital aspects of industrialization.In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell writes about the struggles of the urban working class in industrial England, specifically in its northern regions, during the 19th century in contrast to the lifestyles of those who live in the wealthier south. Because the story is shown from the perspective of the heroine, Margaret Hale, Gaskell is able to display the other side of the stereotypes attributed to women during the 19th century. For the most part, women at that tim e were barely able to face their personal circumstances and address them on their own.Margaret Hale, however, defies the notion that women largely depend on men just to live. She initially resists that belief by rejecting wild-eyed proposalsa move that shows how she is in control of her lifeand displays it at its highest when she throws her arms around John Thornton in an effort to protect him from the angry mob. The latter indicates that it is not always women who seek the protection of men because women can also protect men even at the expense of such women.As Patsy Stoneman indicates in her book Elizabeth Gaskell, Margaret Hale confronts the fact that men of all classes are governed, in the public sphere, by a masculine code, a code that efficaciously prevents the characteristic of estimation attributed to females (Stoneman, p. 86). Margarets willingness to protect Thornton does not only imbibe the thought that women are tender and should not be harmed. It also presents the id ea that womenespecially those who are considered outsiders to industrial areas such as Miltoncan also learn to sympathize with the lot who are working under poverty.The incident in the story where the workers were in a strike against Thornton, the local mill owner, also underlines the idea that an outsider can relate to the woes and conditions of the workers more than those who are directly involved in the industrial system. another(prenominal) interesting aspect of Gaskells thematic exploration of industrialization in North and South is how she was able to reunite, in a manner of speaking, the classes considered as opposite opposites. As Dorice Williams Elliott observes in her article the novel bases its case for womens mediation between classes on an analogy between marriage and class cooperation (Elliott, p.25). The presence of the outsider, Margaret, in the industrial town makes it possible for the marriage between the classes to commence. Margaret became no less than a person who paved the way for the better understanding between the well-off and poor divide although her presence alone did not entirely dissolve the prevalent disparity. Elliotts observation that Margarets mediation led to class cooperation barely reaffirms the idea that class cooperation in itself still presumes differences between social classes.In Mary Barton, the disparities between the rich and the poor classes take the shape of the story of a father who seeks to protect his daughter from becoming a fallen woman. Like Margaret Hale in North and South, the story revolves around the life and struggles of Mary Barton in Victorian England. John Barton, Marys father, is a millworker who lost most of the members of his family except Mary. One interesting part of the story is when John shot heat content Carson, the son of a rich mill owner.Being someone who deeply questions the wealth disparities between rich and poorlargely because he was chairman at many a Trades Union meeting a friend of delegates, someone who was ambitious of being a delegate himself and a chartist who was ready to do anything for his order (Gaskell, p. 25)Johns murder of Henry symbolizes how the members of the poor class sometimes grow desperate. The story is ingenious in the mother wit that it perfectly subsumes the issues surrounding industrialization in Victorian England into the tale of a womans quest for love.Mary Barton is a classic example of how Gaskell effectively writes about the problems caused by industrialization in Victorian England without losing sight of the storys plot. Despite the debates as to whether Gaskells novels genuinely reflect the true genius of the Victorian English society during the onset of the industrial period, it should be reminded that what her novels do is to give a fictional account of the problems people face when dealing with people from another social class.Susan Morgan writes that the criterion of likelihood is an inappropriate approach to Gaskells w ork (Morgan, p. 44). For example, it may have well been unlikely in Manchester for relations between worker and employer to find solutions through individual friendships (Morgan, p. 44). Whatever reasons there may be as to why Gaskell wrote as she did, it is enough to note that North and South and Mary Barton capture the struggles of fictional characters in the face of industrialization.The novels may be fiction at best, yet the circumstance they suggeststhe epic divide between rich and poorremains as real today as it once was. Works Cited Elliott, Dorice Williams. The Female Visitor and the Marriage of Classes in Gaskells North and South. Nineteenth-Century writings 49. 1 (1994) 21-49. Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn. Mary Barton. Ed. Shirley Foster. Oxford Oxford University Press, 2006. Morgan, Susan. Gaskells Heroines and the Power of Time. Pacific Coast Philology 18. 1/2 (1983) 43-51. Stoneman, Patsy. Elizabeth Gaskell. Bloomington Indiana University Press, 1987.