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On Society, Using Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

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Every Society has some sort of order, whether it can be classified by occupation or income range, there is a system. In the excerpt from Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell, a tiered social order is depicted. The lords and ladies at the top, to the workers, and servants; the distinct classes are distinguished through dialogue and detail.

The top tier, lords and ladies, have a few distinctive characteristics that set them apart from the other two classes. Wealth, the first and most important of these traits, allows the other traits of this group to be tolerated. The wealth can be identified through the description of the noble man’s, Mr. Carson, home. “It was a good house, and furnished with disregard to expense.”(10/11) Mr. Carson in addition to beautiful trinkets owned a carriage with horses. Such items were costly. Only those who were wealthy could afford the lifestyle. Along with the lifestyle Mr. Carson led came servants who were obligated to be polite and obey in any circumstances. “I was right weary of waiting; they told me to be at the rooms by twelve; and there I was. But it was two o’ clock before they called me.”(41/43) This servant waited with the carriage for two hours on a cold night for Mrs. Carson simply because it was what he was told to do. The lack of manners seen here is not only displayed to her servants, other nobles endure her self-centered attitude as well. Mrs. Jenkins, a visitor, quarreled with Mrs. Carson, because Mrs. Carson “could not abide anyone to have ‘em [bad headaches], but herself.”(77/78) The wealth, obedience, and disrespectful/self-centered traits, briefly characterize the top class described in the excerpt.

The middle and lower levels are portrayed as working classes. They are not wealthy as the upper class, but they do have a bit (the middle class more than the lower servant class). Neither of these classes could afford carriages and had to walk; Wilson, the exemplar character for the middle tier, “had about two miles to walk”(1) then had to enter through the kitchen door. It was only proper that Wilson and the servants of that house use the servant’s entrance,

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