Mary Barton: a tale of Manchester life

Essay by mouldy1C+, March 2005

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This essay will look at the first chapter of Mary Barton: a tale of Manchester life and to show how the ideas raised here are relevant to the rest of the novel.

Chapter one of Mary Barton is the exposition of the novel, in which Gaskell sets the scene and introduces the reader to the characters.

The chapter begins on a happy Sunday afternoon walk between two families, the Bartons and the Wilson's. The setting is that of local beauty spot Green Heys Fields. Gaskell goes on to describes the surroundings of Green Heys Field and the people that were choosing to take a walk there:

'Groups of merry and somewhat loud-talking girls, whose ages might range from twelve to twenty, came by with buoyant step.' Also ' there were also numbers of boys, or rather young men, rambling among the fields, ready to bandy jokes with anyone, and particularly ready to enter into conversation with the girls'.

This gives the idea that these fields became a local gathering place for working class people and a place where they could enjoy the open space away from the town.

This opening chapter in comparison to the rest of the novel is quite light-hearted; it could be said that it is the only chapter in the novel that is quite jovial and light-hearted. Gaskells opening chapter contrasts with the rest of the novel this with the beauty of the field's contrasts with the industrial dirty town. The use of contrast carries on throughout the novel as Gaskell contrasts the lives of the rich and the poor this can been seen as she describes the house of the rich Carson's, ' In the luxurious library, at the well spread breakfast table, sat the two Mr Carson's father and son.' In contrast to...