|Graziano, Anne. “The Death of the Working-Class
Hero in Mary Barton and Alton Locke,” JNT: Journal of
Narrative Theory Vol. 29, No. 2 (Spring 1999): 135-57.
Graziano discusses the status and especially the death of John Barton and Alton Locke in the novels of Gaskell and Kingsley. On the one hand, it may appear that the authors’ aversion to extreme working class radicalism have led them to kill off their heroes out of sympathy to higher class loyalties. However, Graziano argues that a close examination of the structure of the novel reveals a more complicated reason for the demise of Barton and Locke than the authors’ political conservatism. “. . . it is not a turn away from a positive representational status so much as a development of early implications and contradictions that accounts for the heroes’ ‘fall’” (136-7). The heroes’ failure and deaths “are enacted through the constraining opportunities and conventions of the genre. And thus the politics of the moment cannot adequately explain why Gaskell and Kingsley begin with potentially viable heroes and end with corpses” (151).