Life In The Iron Mills Sparknotes

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The plot of a worker in a mill or factory inspired writers during the 19th century. Elizabeth Gaskell in her North and South discussed the lives of workers in a mill and the need for a strike whether it was permissible or not. Milton, the city where the story takes place, contains mills and factories with workers struggling to eke out a living. Charles Dickens in Hard Times again discusses the working in factories. In the city of Coketown, a town dealing with coal and its distilling, the oppression of the city dwellers is a focus. For Rebecca Harding Davis to write a short story following a similar topic should come as no surprise. Originally published in 1861, Life in the Iron Mills follows the publication of the aforementioned pieces. Rebecca…show more content…
The meaning of Wolfe's life, of "Life in the Iron Mills,"comes into focus around the statue of a strong, naked woman he carves from korl, an industrial waste product, as is, in a sense, Wolfe himself. The statue remains, after Wolfe has been thoroughly wasted, after he has been driven to suicide, slashing his wrists with a "dull old bit of tin, not fit to cut korl with" (p. 57), to testify to Wolfe's hunger and despair, to his soul, the soul in every man. (Hesford) By creating the woman, Hugh spans the gulf between the classes and speaks to the owners in a language they would understand, listen to and respond. In her essay, The Search for the Artist in Man and Fulfillment in Life--Rebecca Harding Davis's 'Life in the Iron Mills.', Lucy Morrison points out, The comparison of the figure to the animal whose name Wolfe shares is pointed, and...the statue surely reflects Wolfe's own desires...The figure seems to depict a mundane worker searching for more; hungry to grasp something further from life...the "poignant longing" indicates that the figure is successful in conveying an indescribable and indefinite emotion that is nonetheless clearly recognizable to man... the search

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