John Barton Middle Class

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In Gaskell’s Mary Barton there is a very clear division between the rich and the poor in the country at the time the novel takes place. Throughout the novel there are multiple examples that demonstrate that there is a very clear rift between the rich and the poor, in the case of the novel this is tension is expressed and embodied multiple times through John Barton during his encounters and interactions with the middle class families as he attempts to aid his fellow working man. There are also a series of warnings spread out throughout the novel which seems to suggest that not every working class member should strive to become a middle class member and that there are certain perils that can occur such as the failure to remember where one came…show more content…
This is shown through the downfall of one of the main protagonists John Barton. In the beginning of the novel the Bartons initially weren’t incredibly wealthy but they were able to claim some aspects of the middle class, they strived to be one of them but were unable to do so. John Barton immediately expresses his distaste for the upper classes to his good friend George Wilson. “The rich know nothing of the trials of the poor…and yet we are to live as separate as if we were in two worlds; ay as Dives and Lazarus (pg.40, Ch.1).” John clearly expresses that he’ll never be able to care for the middle class if they are unwilling or “ignorant” of the issues afflicting the working class and even goes on to say that they live in two separate worlds, which considering the evidence of living conditions and issues that plague the working class that have no importance to the middle class is a fair…show more content…
Initially John is hesitant but he cannot deny aid to the people who face the same struggles he does. When John pawns his handkerchief and his coat for five shillings he buys the Davenports candles, food and bread and although he has some extra money after purchasing the essential provisions he plans to spend the rest of it on the Davenports, although he is unsure what he should buy. He then attempts to purchase medicine with the remainder of his money but when he arrives at the shop he sees the family cheerful and carefree which infuriates John. George Wilson then goes to see his former employer to try and get an out-patient order for Ben Davenport. When George arrives at John Carson’s home, the home of the owner of the mill that burned to the ground and a former working class member himself, just as they are enjoying a luxurious breakfast which as a further insult to injury and an example of the division between the poor and the rich. But this moment also demonstrates a small glimpse of the solution that Gaskell is calling for in the novel. As George Wilson leaves Carson’s son gives him his pocket change, which is a bit of an insult in itself is still aid that is desperately needed, and Carson’s cook prepares Wilson a hot meal. These gestures however, are too little too late and as George Wilson returns to the Davenport’s

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