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Cranford: Does it Have a Heroine?

This novel by Elizabeth Gaskell portrays Cranford as being in possession of women and it displays a feminine community, which is run according to principles of a feminine nature. There are also heroic actions of women, because it is said to be in possession of the Amazons; the women hold houses and are above certain rent.

A question arises whether Cranford has a heroine. Answer depends on the reader’s opinion. A heroine is defined as a woman of courage, brevity and of noble qualities. She perseveres to the end. Deborah, who is dominant, might seem to be that heroine we are looking for, but reading through, Margaret Hale in Cranford is depicted as brave, determined and not selfish. Living with her aunt and cousin, she is able to dress in the latest fashions, but decides to remain down-to-earth. Her priority is to help her cousin to attain a comfortable life. This shows her heroism in that she sacrifices all that she can have for the sake of the people around her. When Edith gets married, she even willingly leaves friends and the good life in the city behind to go back to upcountry to her parents’ home, which is the first point to her heroism (Gaskell 91).

Another important point, the second, which gets Margaret to be a heroine is her dealings with her father, Mr. Hale. Mr. Hale, being a clergyman in his small community, develops individual opinions on religious issues of the Church of England and begs to differ. He thereafter resigns from his clerical post and moves out of the area. Margaret does not understand why all that has happened, but chooses to be devotedly with her father. She leaves everything that she loves outside her family and follows her father, who proceeds with what his conscience directs him.

Another point, the third, of her heroism appears when the family arrives at Milton, a dirty town in north England. The streets of this town are dusty and clogged; noise comes from the surrounding factories - a very different place from their former home. Despite all these, she shows a brave face in front of her trembling family and immediately sets to finding a place to live.

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Margaret also befriends workers from the miller. Though others are cruel, she immerses herself to the life of the workers, which is neglected and different from her social standing. She however gets close to Bessy, who was a former mill worker. Bessy ails lung cancer, which predicts her death, but Margaret visits her often and reads to her the Bible, which happens to be Bessy’s favorite. Her heroism comes out with the fact that she denies herself the comfort zone and chooses to be with someone who is worse off than she is. This is the fourth point of her heroism. Point five is brought out when Margaret suffers in her own home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hale, her parents, get ill and her mother is even helpless. With all this, Margaret does not put her well-being first, but that of her parents. She supports her parents emotionally and even has shown brevity in taking up all household duties.

Point six is that she also stands up for Thornton to stop the violence of the workers at the miller. They had a strike because of the low wages that were paid to them. She is even struck by a stone in the event when exposing herself in protection of Thornton. And all this she did despite the misunderstanding she had with him ever since she arrived at Milton, which was furthered by her refusal to marry him. That was a heroic action by which Thornton was amazed and proposed a marriage, but she refused and they continued with their misunderstandings. Moreover, this brings point seven of her heroism, since she refuses to marry the man she does not love (Gaskell 78).

Bessy Higgins dies and Margaret brings in Nicholas Higgins to discuss his shared worries with him. This is point eight, because she bears not only her own sorrows but that of other people. This is because her mother’s health is getting worse and she even calls for Fredrick before she dies. Margaret looks for the way how to sneak Fredrick into England and her mother dies as soon as he arrives. Margaret forgets her sorrows to comfort her brother and father, and later she sneaks Fredric back out of the country. She even told a lie when she was seen together with her brother, just to protect him. She lost Mr. Thornston’s respect when he learned of her falsehood. The final blow for Margaret was when her father went to visit Mr. Bell and died there. She had lost everything: her family, her friends, and even the respect of others. She goes back to live with her aunt in London. She becomes the heroine of Cranford, because she perseveres to the end. Truly, Cranford has a heroine.

Code: Sample20

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