In the third paragraph on page 168 of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Mary Barton, negative words are used five times, one of which was the word “never” (Gaskell, 168). These negatives are all spoken by Mr. Harry Carson and shows that he has an air of authority. He is speaking down on Jem, literally and figuratively. At the same time, he is telling a police officer, a person who is supposed to have more power than Carson, what to do. This authority leads Mr. Carson to believe that he has the ability to do as he wants.
This interaction occurs when Jem decides that he wants to speak with Mr. Carson. The interaction goes poorly and ends with Carson hitting Jem with his cane and Jem laying in the mud with Carson physically standing over him. Carson has now forced Jem to be under him in multiple ways. Jem is a poor worker who comes from nothing. Harry Carson on the other hand comes from wealth and power. His father is the employer of George Wilson, Jem’s father, and has given Harry Carson a comfortable life. Jem is looked down upon by the rich, and Carson forces Jem to have to look up to him rather than seeing each other equally. Carson then tells Jem that he “will never forgive or forget insult” (Gaskell, 168). The insult that he is referring to was Jem speaking to Mr. Carson as if they were equals. Carson uses their class divide to separate the two men and as a defense for his attack.
Mr. Carson’s authoritative behavior does not stop there. He emphasizes the class divide between him and Jem verbally as well. Mr. Harry Carson is a part of the upper class and believes that his father’s employees should settle with the minimal pay that they receive or lose their jobs (Gaskell, 172). Carson once again has a negative viewpoint on that matter. To him, the poor should not gain more money but rather be content in their miserable lives. His higher place in the social class of Victorian England leaves him with a negative view of the lower class and with that belief of them being below him in many regards.