Scientific sympathy and understanding in Mary Barton : and, Antifraternalism and biblical allusions in The Summoner’s tale

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sarah Noel Cox (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Anne Wallace

Abstract: In Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, readers are introduced to a society that operates on strict gender expectations that any given person needs to play within their social status. It is through the characters of Job Legh and Alice Wilson that a naturalist mindset is examined to be key in breaking social bias and building a bridge to overcome the social divide. Furthermore, Job Legh is hypothesized to be the key factor in accessing places of power that neither rich nor poor can get to because of their limited worldview. Through Job’s evolving role as a naturalist, as caretaker to his granddaughter, as mediator, and as an activist for the dissolution of the class divide, Gaskell highlights the importance of scientific sympathy as an alternative worldview. AND Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales presents readers with an assortment of stories that deal with moral issues. Within The Summoner’s Tale, Chaucer subvertly examines what would lead someone in the fourteenth century to have antifraternalist thoughts. Thomas’s loss of his child, his poverty, and his multiple visits to various friars all cause him to become a site of antifraternalism. Friar John’s hypocrisy, his greed, and his own refusal to acknowledge Thomas’s and his wife’s grief shows how he has become negligent in his duties as a leader of his religious community. Through the use of subversive themes, biblical allusions, and scatological gifts, I conclude that the corrupt friars created their own ruin by neglecting their congregation and being blinded by greed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Antifraternalism, Chaucer, Elizabeth Gaskell, Naturalism, Scientific Sympathy
Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, $d 1810-1865. $t Mary Barton
Natural history literature
Chaucer, Geoffrey, $d -1400. $t Canterbury tales
Friars in literature

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