Life in the Iron Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis

Decent Essays

Similar to other critics, “Life in the Iron Mills” by Rebecca Harding Davis, is a sentimental story with an ending that changes the tone of the story. As suggested by the majority of this text, there was not to be a favorable ending for the characters as the narrator portrays them so pessimistically; the very first passage begins “Is this the end? O Life, as futile, then, as frail! What hope of answer is redress?” (p.51). The text might have had a more completed ending with the protagonist, Hugh, in jail because at this point the reader acknowledges how hard he worked and how worn and exhausted he was, but before he stole the money, he at least still had his freedom, arguably this could be the moral of the story for the reader. It is difficult to understand why a Quaker came to the jail after Hugh’s death to bury him in a better place than he had been-- not exactly the appropriate fate for a thief. The Quaker character had no depth since she was not in the story until the very end, and it is not easily understood as to what the connection was when she helped Deborah. Perhaps this was the writer’s attempt to create an ending that makes a reader believe there is fortune after working in the iron mills or being part of the working-class; maybe you can be saved after all, but even that argument, is a stretch. If the story had ended with Hugh passing away in jail, it would have been more consistent with the beginning and middle of the story, and more believable. When Hugh

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