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40 - This device serves two obvious functions First it is...

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It will become obvious later in the novel that the characters presented here fall into distinct groups.  While Adam and Seth will be characterized at some length, their fellow workmen, like many others  presented in the course of the book, will remain mere sketches. These background characters form  part of the novel's atmosphere, its milieu, and help provide a realistic context for the adventures of  the principal figures. They are mere props in a sense; they appear in the novel, but their words and  actions have no real bearing on the plot. All the characters in the book, with the exception of the wealthy and well-educated, speak in dialect. 
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Unformatted text preview: This device serves two obvious functions. First, it is realistic and thus contributes to the illusion the author strives to create. Second, to Eliot's English audience, dialect was a source of humor, just as strong dialect has been a source of humor in much American writing — Mark Twain's, say. Statements of Wiry Ben's like "y' are a downright good-hearted chap, panels or no panels; an' ye donna set up your bristles at every bit o' fun, like some o' your kin, as is mayhap cliverer" were as effective with a nineteenth-century British audience as Pap Finn's fulminations were for an American one....
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