Life in the Iron Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis is a beautifully written novella that is full of imagery that allows the reader to better empathize with the characters. The use of imagery gives the piece a gloomy ambiance that mirrors the plight of the characters. The use of color, ash, and smoke makes the reader feel morose and thus able to comprehend the troubles that the characters face. The author uses the mood to engage in the controversy of the exploitation of workers during the Industrial Revolution. The mood is one of sadness and suffering.
The gray color of the town gives the story an air of wretchedness and neglect. The reader can sense the tone of despair through the author’s imagery and use of color. The color gray is dull and…show more content… Deb ached in her body and soul. She mourned over the lost love of Hugh. She loved him but she also knew that “in spite of all his kindnesses, that there was that in her face and form which made him loathe the sight of her…his soul sickened with disgust and her deformity, even when his words were kindest” (Page 47). Deb’s physical appearance is related to her work in the factory. She is hunchbacked and her fingers are twisted because she works all day in a bend over position. She also knew that she was physically ugly and she was deeply wounded by the fact. Her soul ached. Deb desired for someone to love her and that was the only thing keeping her alive. “Perhaps the weak, flaccid wretch had some stimulant in her pale life to keep her up, -- some love or hope, it might be, or urgent need” (Page 43). Her love of Hugh kept her going every day, but it was not enough to dull the ache of her body and soul. Hugh was no beauty queen either. He is described as a feminine man. “He had already lost the strength and instinct vigor of a man, his muscles were thin, his nerves weak, his face (a meek, woman’s face) haggard, yellow with consumption. In the mill he was known as one of the girl men…” (Page 47-48). He lost his masculinity and suffered through life knowing that he was never physically good enough to fit in with the crowd. His body ached from working at the iron mill and his soul ached…show more content… At the end of the story Deb found freedom by living life in the country with the Quaker community. She was happy living with the Quakers because they accepted her despite her physical condition. She was free because in them she found acceptance and love that Hugh never gave her. Throughout the story she remained optimistic and always saw the good in people even when they were vile towards her. Deb saw the good in Hugh even though he could not see the good in himself. “She felt by instinct, although she could not comprehend it, the finer nature of the man, which made him among his fellow workmen something unique, set apart. She knew, that, down under all the vileness and coarseness of his life, there was a groping passion for whatever was beautiful and pure…” (Page 47). This optimistic outlook allowed her to never give up hope, even in unfortunate circumstances, which allowed her to persevere and find freedom with the Quakers. At the end of the story Hugh committed suicide. He had a pessimistic outlook on life. He felt trapped in his unfortunate life and saw death as the only escape. He did not have any self worth. “At every sentence, Wolfe listened more and more like a dumb, hopeless animal… glancing now and then at Mitchell, marking acutely every smallest sign of refinement, then back to himself, seeing as in a mirror his filthy body, his more stained soul” (Page 52). He saw