The novel Mary Barton, explains a tale of Manchester lifer written by Elizabeth Gaskell. The book was published in 1848. Over the years, there was the disparity in Britain that leads to conflicts between the haves and the have-nots that saw the poor population suffered regarding food and other basic human needs. The author tries to bring a balance between the rich and the poor, by advocating for Utilitarian Christian values. It is widely known and read in books in Britain, and it gives insight into Victorian writers and their Victorian Society; a society that had the greatest disparity in social class.
Elizabeth Gaskell novel, Mary Barton, portrays the disparities that existed in British Society between the haves and have-nots during the mid-ninetieth century. Insights into the British society in the mid-nineteenth century. The author presents the story of John Barton to present the view of Social Question, that resulted in social classes and disparities in the mid-nineteenth century in Britain. In her novel, she tries to present the situation in Britain during the advent of the industrial revolution, and finally proposed what should be done to combat the challenges and restore sanity.
She tries to invoke Christian values such as guiding principles towards a good life, the rediscovery of Christian values, and not just merely devoting going to church on Sundays. The following are insights into Victorian Society. First, the author presents the issue of unemployment that existed between 1830-1840. John Barton who was the breadwinner in his family, lost his job where he was working in the factory, due to fire outbreak that saw many workers among the retrenched.
Since the company was his main source of income, his family suffered a lot of problems due to his retrenchment. His family living conditions deteriorated. He could no longer afford basic needs to feed his family. There was not enough food, so it resulted in facing hunger problems; this also is how one of his sons died. He had no money, and he was forced to vacate his living premises because he could not pay rent. John Barton among other workers, suffered this, and was forced to endure while the upper class enjoyed resources at their expense.
This clearly presents a Social Question in this Victorian Society. It is a known fact that the middle and the lower class people, depend on employment to meet basic human needs. Without employment, there will be serious disparities in the society, resulting in social problems. This is evident in this Victorian Society. Secondly, there was no access to basic education and quality education between members of different social classes. The poor were discriminated when it came to education matters.
The rich had money, and they could take their children to school to enjoy the benefits of education. The poor had no money, and they could not enjoy anything as far as education is concerned. Their child or children, stayed at home doing household chores and waiting to finally join the industry and work for the rich to continue their livelihood. This is a serious form of disparity because the repercussions are going to be evident in the coming generations; If it makes the poor to remain poor and the rich to become rich.
To increase the rate of production in factories, there is need of educated workforce that can do duties such as judge the efficiency, instead of just doing it due to respect and affection they have for their masters. Education is the primary tool to bridge the social classes. There are a number of criticisms made by the members of a higher social class over the problems faced by the poor people. There is a clearly defined social class. Each social class has their feelings, and they considered themselves different.
The rich don’t have any feelings towards the poor man. Their death and suffering doesn’t have any logical reasoning to the rich man. This is clearly demonstrated in this paragraph: “How little can the rich man know Of what the poor man feels, When Want, like some dark demon foe, Nearer and nearer steals!.. ” The fire that affected the factory was a sign of economic downsizing to the poor, while to the upper class, it was a way in which they could increase their earnings from insurance service providers.
In the factory, they did exaggerate it to claim more money. After the factory had been burned, Carson saw it as an opportunity to have their families enjoy all sorts of lifestyles. They could take a decent breakfast with their wives and children while having plenty of time to read the newspapers. This is an indication that the ancient British had clear social classes demarcated by boundaries. The poor had nothing to look forward to or to find joy in, in turn, all their resources were depleted, and they lacked basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.
If the rich minded about the poor, they could have compensation schemes that could allow the poor to earn money in times of economic difficulties and at least enjoy basic human needs if they couldn’t afford the luxuries. Such acts lead to more sufferings to the lower class population. Furthermore, the poor people in the society were faced by numerous social problems. These social problems are evident in what the poor people talk about themselves and their feelings towards the rich people. This scenario is seen in a conversation between John and Wilson.
John restated that the upper class has not done anything to better his situation, he explained this in bitterness. The upper class does not care whether you are sick or not, they will never nurse you when you are in poor health, in fact, it looks like it makes them happy. He further restates that if his sick child is about to die (he finally died), the upper class would not even offer their wine to support him and perhaps restore the health of his child. When winter comes, he and his family will be in their house, suffering cold with ragged clothes and beddings that cannot prevent them from cold.
There is nothing the clergy can do to rescue them in this situation. These utterances by John Barton clearly portray the social problems that the poor people are going through with little or no hope. These social problems as demonstrated above, apply to all of the poor population. John Barton states clearly that it is only the poor who can help the poor, and the rich will only help themselves. Conclusion The analysis of this novel gives insight into the situation in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century.
It clearly explains the social classes that existed between the poor and the rich, which clearly explains the disparities that existed during that time. There was a struggle between the haves and have-nots. Elizabeth Gaskell clearly demonstrated this gap in Mary Barton, by bringing on the characters like John Barton, Mary Barton, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, Job and Mr. Carson, beside other characters. It is no doubt that a society with social classes will continue to suffer over a long period of time, especially when the poor have no chance to move from one class to another.
The author proposes unitary as a way to solve the conflicts and restore sanity in this society. Some of the issues proposed in conclusion, asserts that there should be confidence, love, and trust between the masters who own the means of production, and the workers who provide labor in order to spur production process. The rich could not consider their interests to be much better, but should also examine the interests of the poor, because they’re also human beings and demand respect at all sorts.
There is no denying the fact that the education bridge the gap between poor and rich, and the rich should act to try and spread education to the poor, so that they can have educated workers capable of judging what is happening and not just showing respect and affection to their employers. As a summary of all the points discussed, the author was guided by the belief that it is only the Spirit of Christ that can solve the problems, because it acts as a regulating force between the rich and the poor.