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Cranford - A micro analysis of pages 1-4

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Introduction

'Cranford' Micro Analysis Pages 1 - 4 from "In the first place" to "she did practise such 'elegant economy' " Word Count 1,220 (excluding quotes) 'Cranford' by Elizabeth Gaskell is a traditional Victorian regional novel, focussing on a small community and specifically the 'Cranford' ladies. It has simple morals and the language used is typical of the era; highly descriptive, with the use of long, detailed sentences. I have chosen to analyse the opening passage as it contains examples of many of the themes and motifs of the novel and prepares the reader for the tone of the novel. Written in the first person, the narrator, Mary Smith, is writing an account from her point of view about the happenings that occur over the years in this small town. 'Cranford' is based on the author's own experiences of growing up in Knutsford and the narrator is probably Gaskell herself. 'Cranford 'appears to be an attractive, humorous and nostalgic piece that depicts the life of a small community in the north of England but it could be argued that it has a sarcastic, satirical and highly critical sub-text. Gaskell wrote her novel to cater for a very specific niche of reader. ...read more.

Middle

In addition to this Gaskell also makes a point of drawing attention to the rules by emphasising the condescending tone used by the ladies. A 'Cranford' lady might say "I dare say your mama has told you, my dear," (p6) which is not only comical but also reflects the age of the narrator as she appears to be much younger than the residents she is writing about. This can be seen later in the novel for example when the ladies visit Mr Holbrook "When Mr Holbrook returned he proposed a walk in the fields; but the two elder ladies were afraid of the damp, and dirt."(p44) Gaskell also mocks the concept of paying a call to someone by making it clear that the only thought in the visitors mind is the timing. The entire exercise becomes pointless "As everybody had this rule in their minds, whether they received or paid a call, of course no absorbing subject was ever spoken about. We kept ourselves to short sentences of small talk, and were punctual to out time." (p7) Gaskell could be making a critical as well as a satirical point here. Women were generally uneducated and it was thought that their minds were unable to cope with sophisticated topics of conversation. ...read more.

Conclusion

The inhabitants of 'Cranford' all follow the same pattern of behaviour, with everyone conforms to the strict routine and Gaskell appears to be criticising the lack of individuality of the ladies as they all act like sheep. In conclusion although 'Cranford' is a charming, nostalgic piece I do believe that Gaskell's intention was to challenge the role of women at home and in society. By subtly mocking the daily 'toils' of the 'Cranford' ladies she showing how pointless and mundane their lives could be. No real or important issues are reflected in this novel, the impact of the industrial revolution, the distress of the poor or the ongoing campaigns for equal rights for women. The 'Cranford' ladies exist in a bubble that is only affected by the influence of the outside by death and bankruptcy. She shows Miss Matty left helpless without the privilege of an education and left alone to due her self-sacrifice. By showing this she makes a subtle point to her readers showing that this could happen to anyone of them and maybe hoping that this would be a more powerful message rather than a novel concerning extreme feminist views. ?? ?? ?? ?? Hilary Brocks 12MM ...read more.

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