chapter  23
1 Pages

Cranford, ch. 14

It is more stressed in them than elsewhere, naturally, but even in her comic stories she does not falsify her assessment of life as a hard and troublesome affair. They are comedies with a basis of solid reality, not idealized romances. Life is still to be faced honestly; disappointments and frustration have to be borne, evil encountered, the temptation to despair resisted. Cranford, that seeming haven of retirement, is shaken by the storms of the outside world, and in Miss Matty's ruin the insecurity of all lives, no matter how sheltered, is imaged. The comic vein of the story does not obliterate the message, for, though Miss Matty's tragedy is but a shadow of the calamities of John Barton or Sylvia Robson, to her it is real and large and her suffering is genuine. Here is Mrs. Gaskell's description of Miss Matty's predicament on the loss of her money:

I found Miss Matty very quiet, and not a little sad; but by-and-by she tried to smile for my sake. It was settled that I was to write to my father, and ask him to come over and hold a consultation, and as soon as this letter was despatched we began to talk over future plans.