Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton and the Industrial Novel Essay examples

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton and the Industrial Novel Essay examples

Length: 940 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton and the Industrial Novel

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton belongs to a small, short-lived form of Victorian literature called the industrial novel. The primary authors of this genre—Charles Kingsley, Frances Trollope, Charlotte Brontë, Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell—all were, what Herbert Sussman describes, as primarily middle-class authors writing for middle class readers in a rapidly changing world, where both author and reader struggled to comprehend their transforming society. The English people new not whether to accept this newly industrialized world as a necessary result of capitalism, or reject it for its inherent inhumanity. Writers like Gaskell portrayed the victims of this new world with sympathy, but expressed fear that the working-class would someday rise to overthrow the economic system that had treated them with such cruelty. As working conditions improved, and people became tempered to this new world, the industrial novel, with few exceptions, ceased to exist, but we can use this genre to look back on how the industrialized world—the world in which we now live comfortably—came into being.

It was just about 40 years before Elizabeth Gaskell published Mary Barton that Great Britain was primarily a rural, agricultural society. Many people grew their own food, and clothes and household materials were usually made within the home. Any specialized occupation almost always centered on the home and family, with children and parents both contributing to the family business. Three inventions, however, swiftly changed this system. The invention of the spinning mule and spinning jenny allowed mass production of woven cloth, which was ...

... middle of paper ...

...oughout Europe, forced the English government to create new restrictions that outlawed child-labor, decreased working hours, increased worker safety, and implemented a host of other policies that allowed an overall improvement in living conditions for the working-class. By the end of the 19th century, the condition of the working-class was better than it had ever been, and England had survived the most rapid century of change in its history. Literary works like Mary Barton were Gaskell’s attempt to understand this period of change, and they are our best hope of fully understanding them ourselves.

Victorian Britain. Ed. Sally Mitchell. New York: Garland, 1988. “Factories,” “Factory Acts,” “Textile Industry,” “Working Hours.”

A Companion to Victorian Literature. Ed. Herbert F. Tucker. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999. “Industrial” by Herbert Sussman.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskel Essay

- Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskel Elizabeth Gaskell's Nineteenth Century novel, Mary Barton, is an example of social realism in its depiction of the inhumanities suffered by the impoverished weavers of Manchester, England. The main story in Mary Barton is that of the honest, proud and intelligent workingman so embittered by circumstances and lack of sympathy that he finally murders a mill owner's son as an act of representative vengeance. In growing embittered, he becomes as a natural consequence, more isolated in his community; both humanity and faith lose their power to guide him....   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
1710 words (4.9 pages)

Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life Essay

- Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in London on Setpember 29th, 1810 to William and Elizabeth Stevenson. Her father William was a former Unitarian minister who, after retiring from the ministry, “combined farming, writing, and teaching before being appointed Keeper of the Records to the Treasury" (Allott 10). Her mother, Elizabeth died just over a year after giving birth and, consequently, while still an infant, Gaskell was sent off to live with her aunt, Hannah Lumb who resided in Heathside, Knutford....   [tags: Essays]

Free Essays
1190 words (3.4 pages)

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell Essay

- The nineteenth century had the most radical and revolutionary ideas in history. The status of women during this time being one of those ideas. This time period has been named the Victorian Era, and was influential on British society. Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, “Mary Barton,” was designed to portray the cultural customs and ideas of Britain. One of Gaskell’s motives was to bring awareness to the life and trials of a Victorian woman. A scholar writes that “for women the situation is complicated by the fact that not only their work, but their bodies have a cash value” (Stoneman 548)....   [tags: women in the Victorian era, novel analysis]

Better Essays
1525 words (4.4 pages)

Essay on Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

- Through attention to detail, repeated comparison, shifting tone, and dialogue that gives the characters an opportunity to voice their feelings, Elizabeth Gaskell creates a divide between the poor working class and the rich higher class in Mary Barton. Gaskell places emphasis on the differences that separate both classes by describing the lavish, comfortable, and extravagant life that the wealthy enjoy and compares it to the impoverished and miserable life that the poor have to survive through. Though Gaskell displays the inequality that is present between both social classes, she also shows that there are similarities between them....   [tags: social classes, rich, poor]

Better Essays
1362 words (3.9 pages)

Essay on Clara Barton's Biography by Elizabeth Brown Pryor

- Clara Barton's Biography by Elizabeth Brown Pryor The author, Elizabeth Brown Pryor, wrote her biography of Clara Barton with the intent to not only tell her life, but to use personal items (diary and letters) of Clara’s found to help fill information of how Clara felt herself about incidents in her life. Her writing style is one that is easy to understand and also one that enables you to actually get pulled into the story of the person. While other biographical books are simply dry facts, this book, with the help of new found documents, allows Pryor to give a modern look on Barton’s life....   [tags: Clara Barton Biography]

Free Essays
1887 words (5.4 pages)

The Low By Mary Barton Essay

- The Chartist movement began in 1838, this movement inspired many writers and poets to publish work about the social inequality and political side to the working and upper class life. The poetry was mainly published in journals, and newspapers that were read by the same social class as the writer. One of these poems is “The Song Of The Low” which was a rallying poem published in Notes to the People in 1852 to excite and create solidarity within the Chartists. To compare to this is a passage from Mary Barton a novel published in 1848 showing the Chartist movement but also showing how a story framework can be presented around the political nature of this text....   [tags: Social class, Working class, Middle class]

Better Essays
1292 words (3.7 pages)

Essay about Queen Elizabeth : The Queen Of England

- Queen Elizabeth was born on September 7, 1533 in Greenwich, United Kingdom. (Bio.com) The queen was recognized most by her nickname “The Virgin Queen.” Elizabeth I was the long filling queen of England, the Elizabethan era is actually named after her. Elizabeth governed with relative stability and prosperity for 44 years. (Bio.com) In Elizabeth 's early life she was a princess, but declared illegitimate through political machinations. She was perhaps England 's most famous monarch, but grew up in complex and sometimes difficult circumstances....   [tags: Elizabeth I of England, Mary I of England]

Better Essays
1086 words (3.1 pages)

Queen Elizabeth I Of England Essay

- Queen Elizabeth I of England, was an iconic ruler during the Golden Age of England, and arguably one of the most well known and successful rulers of her time. Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, reigned over England from 1558 until her death in 1603. When Elizabeth took the throne after the death of her half sister, Mary I, England was in a poor economic state. Throughout her time as Queen, Elizabeth was able to repair the economic debt held by England, as well as mend relations within society, caused by many things including religious wars....   [tags: Mary I of England, Elizabeth I of England]

Better Essays
1964 words (5.6 pages)

Elizabeth Portrayed A Ruler For England Essay

- Elizabeth portrayed a marvelous ruler for England in times of need. She controlled religious chaos, kept England in an internal and external state of peace for a long time and served a symbol of national unity (Levin 8). Her sex had a great influence on the portrayal of her image of courage, religion, sexuality (Levin 66) and the limitations imposed by her female status continued to be present throughout her reign (Levin 145). Since her birth, her gender provoked disappointments (Levin 5) once many believed only a boy would secure the succession and avoid civil war (Levin 5)....   [tags: Elizabeth I of England, Mary I of England]

Better Essays
1809 words (5.2 pages)

Queen Elizabeth I Of England Essay

- Queen Elizabeth I of England is perhaps the greatest example of a woman ruling in her own right that history has to offer as she successfully ruled over all of England for almost half a century, without marrying and surrendering her power to any man or foreign nation. Elizabeth’s two predecessors Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor were both terrible rulers –although Lady Jane only “ruled” for nine days- they left England with the impression that a woman could not rule the country effectively. As a result when Elizabeth came into power she was counseled to marry as quickly as possible and to simply rely to do the actual ruling....   [tags: Mary I of England, Elizabeth I of England, Gender]

Better Essays
1054 words (3 pages)