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Elizabeth Gaskell and Victorian England

             The living conditions of the lower class in Victorian England, under the effects of industrialization, is one of the most frequently depicted issues in nineteenth century British literature. Elizabeth Gaskell, a prominent novelist from that era wrote about these conditions and was a master at drawing the reader's attention to the social injustices of her time.
             The increased level of literacy in Victorian England contributed to a mass-market for book publishing and its mass audience was mainly made up of middle-class readers (O'Gorman 1). Their attitude towards the poor, the "Other Nation", was fundamentally that of horror and fear of rebellion, the contagion of diseases, disgust and sometimes even pity (Smith 203). They were able to read about the lower classes from a secure distance and either be admonished of the 'danger' that they represented or share the writer's sympathy (ibid). .
             Elizabeth Gaskell was deeply concerned with the social situation of her time and expressed her attitude towards the social system and the neglected by means of her novels. She used her writing as an instrument of social criticism and to express her overt attitude toward the widespread distress. In order to change the indifference of her target audience mentioned above, she employed the figure of a social explorer. To evoke the reader's sympathy through pity, she utilized individuals to represent society. This paper concerns with one of her social explorers: the middle class heroine Margaret Hale who was brought up in the South but is forced to leave her home and move to an industrial town in the North.
             2. Social Conditions of the Lower Classes in Nineteenth Century England.
             The Industrial Revolution made Britain the first industrialized country in the world. However, despite the undeniably positive outcomes the industrial revolution en-tailed, a plethora of negative side effects accompanied this unprecedented progress.

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