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How did the industrial revolution affect the lives of traditional workers in the 20th century? Support your answer by giving examples from the lives of the Gessler brothers.Marks:20
The industrial revolution revolutionised the way the manufacturing industry worked. It brought into existence machines which increased the productivity and efficiency of the industries. It also reduced the prices of commodities greatly. Despite so many plus points, there were huge drawbacks of the industries getting mechanised. The 20th century workforce was hit hard by the increasing automation. Now that machines could do more than how much a man could, naturally the machines started taking over the production. The pocket friendly cost of the machine produced goods attracted the consumers as well. The strongest and probably the harshest impact was felt by the traditional workers. This has been depicted well in the story ‘Quality’ by John Galsworthy. The Gesslers were shoemakers by profession and came from a family of skilled shoemakers. They made shoes only on order and never worked with the aim of making money. This affected their earnings as their shop received a bare minimum of footfall throughout the year.
With the coming of machines, many rival shops opened up and each one of them claimed to make shoes for the royal family. They also invested greatly in advertising and got many customers. The Gesslers, however were old school and did not believe in advertising. They believed that their work will do the necessary talking. To them, shoemaking was not just a business; it was their creative outlet and also a sacred art. That is why they made no such claims of making shoes for the royal family or any other family. They continued to work on their shoes and the cheap industry made shoes kept reducing the number of customers they had. This pain was expressed by Mr. Gessler the day the narrator walked into the shop wearing a pair of boots purchased in a rush. Mr. Gessler angrily chided the cheaper, low quality boots that were becoming so popular. He felt saddened by the fact that people chose industry made low quality boots over the sturdy ones the Gesslers made for them. This loss only keeps piling up and every time the author visited the Gesslers, he saw some or the other change. For instance, at first they sold half of their shop. Later on the author came to know that the elder Mr. Gessler died of starvation. On his last visit, he was surprised to see an Englishman sitting behind the counter at the Gesslers’ shop. He got to know that the younger Mr. Gessler too had died of starvation. The Englishman told him that Mr. Gessler never had any money. Whatever he earned was spent in rent and leather and in the end, he had no way to eat and he starved himself to death. He kept working on his last order – which was placed by the narrator – till he died.
The age of automation and industrialisation proved deadly for the Gesslers and their business.
Justify the title of the story ‘Quality’.Marks:20
The title of the story Quality is very appropriate as the lives of the Gesslerbrothers were all about quality shoe making. They were initially successful in their business of shoe making as they provided their customers with fine quality shoes that fit their customers perfectly. They used high quality leather and were only bothered about the satisfaction of their customers. The quality of their work was what earned them the customers that they had in their earlier days. But as the times changed, and machines and fancy advertisements captured people’s attention, the people started ignoring the quality of the products that they bought and gave in to the illusion the other shoe making companies created for them. They abandoned the Gesslers and started buying shoes from the fancy shops which resulted in the Gesslers losing many customers.
The chapter highlights the plight of craftsmen as well as their dedication to their family occupation. The Gesslers were the best boot makers in London and they considered their profession the most important aspect of their lives. They gave everything they had to their craft. The author remarks how their customers found it nearly impossible to visit them more often as the shoes they made lasted terribly. The Gessler brothers made shoes of impeccable quality, but that is not the only ‘quality’ the chapter talks about. The chapter also talks about the Gesslers’ quality of complete dedication to their profession and how they never worked for money. It also talks about the narrator’s quality of empathizing with the Gessler brothers and doing whatever he could to help them. He always ended up ordering more pairs of shoes so that he could pay extra money to the Gesslers. Therefore, the chapter is appropriately titled ‘Quality’.
Hobbies bring joy to our lives. But do you think taking one’s hobby seriously and making it one’s profession will help one lead a successful life? Support your answer by taking instances from the story ‘Quality’.Marks:20
The Gessler brothers were very passionate and hard working towards their profession of shoe making. But they were traditional practitioners and did not adjust to the changing ways of the world. They put their heart and soul into their shoes which came out very well. The thing that mattered the most to them was the satisfaction of their customers. They were not money minded. They only used high quality leather and made shoes with their own hands. They did not advertise and believed that the quality of their work can make up for everything.
The Gesslersfell prey to the changing ways of the world with which they could not keep up. However, money is not the only goal of our profession. We also seek some sort of satisfaction for our souls through our career. The Gesslers were successful in terms of being happy with their profession and giving quality output. This is the most important take away of making a profession out of our hobbies. Perhaps that is why they only suffered because of the lack of money. Nevertheless, they were proud of what they did and they were confident about the quality of boots they produced. Their customers could not agree more. Most of them could find no reason to frequent their trips to the Gesslers’ shop. The author has remarked that their shoes lasted terribly. The Gesslers are the best examples of the fact that if we follow our hobbies, we will work with dedication and achieve success.
Hobbies are the activities that help us enhance our various skills and also bring immense joy and happiness to our lives. Making our hobby our profession can help us stay happy in our lives as it will bring us the required money to survive and also enable us to enjoy our work. But in order to survive, we also have to be aware of the changes around us. If we focus completely on our work and isolate ourselves from the world, we might not be able to survive despite loving our profession. This is because money is also essential to buy the things necessary for our survival.
What do you think are the reasons behind the Gessler brothers’ failure to survive?Marks:20
The Gesslerswere very dedicated to their profession of boot making. They stuck to their traditional methods of shoe making and selling and did not depend on modern methods that rely on machines and advertising to sell their products. They were very particular about the quality and fitting of the shoes that they made and hence, never failed to satisfy their customers. They did not have any greed for money and only practiced the art of shoe making for the satisfaction and happiness of their customers. Due to the changing circumstances, they lost their customers to the colourful advertisements and fancy looking shops that sell fancy shoes that do not last as long as their shoes.
The Gesslers owned two small shops which were combined into one. Losing customers caused them to fall in debt and ultimately, they had to sell one of their shops. The elder Gessler could not bear the grief of having to give up one of their shops and passed away. The younger brother decided to stick to the traditions and not give in to the hardships. When the narrator complained about the boots he had bought, Gessler was ready to take them off his bill if he was unable to repair them even though he was already so much in debt.
The world had become competitive and such businesses were all about making profits. But the Gesslers were passionate and their will to stay true to their art and not give in to the ways of the profit making business techniques ultimately could not help them survive and they succumbed to their inability to earn money.