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Preservation and Progress in Cranford


  • Katherine Leigh Anderson

Summary, in English

The threat of change and the loss it can incur creates the need to preserve a detailed version of the past. Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford can be interpreted as a piece looking backwards as a means of looking forward; acknowledging and commemorating the existence of a rich and detailed past allows for the closing of its chapters, and thus eventual movement into a new future. In this paper I will be investigating Cranford as a piece that addresses the consequences of widescale cultural change. Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford offers insight to the author's pervading ideology regarding different kinds of change and the role that literature takes in its wake. I have divided my work into three main sections; the first centers on the rejection of radical change in Cranford on the level of plot, the second focuses on Gaskell's skepticism of traditional progress in Cranford and Wives and Daughters, and lastly, the third section addresses how Gaskell uses literature as a kind of historical transmission that helps to cope with change. I intend to prove that Cranford is a representative element of the past, and as such, Cranford does not change, but it is a response to change that cements a memory of old-fashioned English countrylife in the minds of readers as an act of historical preservation. Gaskell's creation of this static tableau of the past can be seen as a direct response to encroaching social change. In the creation of such a tableau, Gaskell actively offers a new opportunity of transmitting the essence of the past through literature.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • preservation
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • progress
  • change
  • historical transmission
  • role of literature
  • Cranford


  • Christina Lupton