Gaskell and Darwin: A Non Sequitur?

I will be honest and say it was a bit of a stretch for me to find much that was similar in these two works other than the obvious topic of gender roles. In Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, the fact that women, or “Amazons” if you like, dominate the populace show much of what Charles Darwin proposed about sexual selection. Because their husbands are away most of the time or are they are simply single, women do everything in Cranford, and are apparently damn good at it. Cranford lives in harmony for the most part until a man, Captain Brown, arrives and throws a wrench in the works and muddles up what Darwin would call the harmony of natural selection within the town, albeit making it better once the women learn to evolve their perceptions.

Both Gaskell and Darwin appreciate tradition and a sense of community within their respective spheres (Cranford and evolutionary mammals). Whilst Drumble is becoming more materialistic and hectic, and religion still holds the most sway in popular opinion on scientific discoveries, these two writers lobby for a mutual understanding between all parties and diplomatic respect for the inevitable changes that come with being a part of this world.


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