Contradictions in the "Iron Mills" Analytical Essay by Kristin H

Contradictions in the "Iron Mills"
A look at Rebecca Harding Davis's "Life in the Iron Mills" and its mixed messages about slavery and social change.
# 58388 | 1,922 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2005 | US
Published on May 09, 2005 in Literature (American) , English (Argument) , English (Analysis)

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The paper argues that even though author, Rebecca Harding Davis, prided herself on being an advocate for social change, her book, "Life in the Iron Mills," does little to point out a need for change for the working class. The paper looks at the novella as a contradictory work with an ambiguous message.

From the Paper:

"The story's similarities to pro-slavery novels appear again when Kirby and the other men "tour" the iron mill. Kirby acts like a plantation owner while he casually shows his friends around the mill - the workers stop shouting and singing when they notice Kirby's presence, as if they fear punishment from their master. Upon learning that "twelve hundred hands" work at the mills, Mitchell asks if Kirby controls the workers' votes. Kirby replies that he does not, but he adds, "[M]y father brought seven hundred votes to the polls for his candidate last November" (12). Kirby and Mitchell's conversation about controlling the workers' votes shows another man's ownership of human beings and his power to manipulate their rights. This symbolizes Kirby as a master, the iron mill as a plantation, and the workers as slaves."

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