Cranford | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gaskell

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Cranford Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Dec. 2020. Web. 22 Jan. 2022. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2020, December 7). Cranford Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 22, 2022, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)



Course Hero. "Cranford Study Guide." December 7, 2020. Accessed January 22, 2022.


Course Hero, "Cranford Study Guide," December 7, 2020, accessed January 22, 2022,

Cranford | Symbols



The aristocratic ladies of Cranford each have their idiosyncrasies which are represented by their clothing. Miss Matty is a devotee of unusual colors and elaborate headwear. She has specific clothing for specific occasions and changes the ribbons in her hat according to needs like mourning, holidays, or other special circumstances. Miss Matty's deceased sister Miss Jenkyns regulated Miss Matty's fashion choices for the majority of her life. After Miss Jenkyns's death, Miss Matty is free to make outlandish or questionable selections and she delights in wearing them. The narrator takes great care in guiding Miss Matty toward less garish trends.

The other characters of Cranford wear items which are symbolic of their eccentric personalities. Miss Pole is an outspoken, assertive character who adorns herself in a plethora of gaudy brooches. Mrs. Forrester is more reserved and highly economical. She wears scraps of old lace, including one which was regurgitated by her cat. Mrs. Jamieson asserts herself as the regal matriarch of the Cranford inner circle and she adorns herself with layers of outdated finery. Lady Glenmire is the only titled member of the Cranford group yet she is more down to earth than her contemporaries and she dresses in ways which they consider to be "shabby."


Money is an ever present entity in Cranford but characters consider it uncouth to speak of it. The aristocrats of Cranford each have a personal "economy" which they utilize to save small amounts of money such as conserving paper or string, rationing candles, or recycling lace. The ladies have unspoken rules about serving inexpensive foods when they get together for tea or cards. The women wear new hats but old gowns during social calls. When they are not visiting or receiving one another they dress in patched but serviceable clothing.

The Cranford elite rally their resources to provide support when someone is in need. When the traveling magician Signor Brunoni suffers an injury, the ladies supply his family with a place to live, household necessities, and food. Miss Matty's friends contrive to secretly supply her with a small income when she experiences an unexpected bankruptcy.

Money or the lack of it symbolizes the unspoken agreement in Cranford that everyone in the small village is part of a community which provides support to its members. There are not many resources to go around yet collectively they amount to enough for everyone to get by. Since money is difficult to come by in Cranford, exchanges are instead made through information, moral support, and friendship.

Mr. Holbrook

Mr. Holbrook represents an attempt to preserve the old ways of rural England. He is an avid, successful farmer with an appreciation for nature and old books. He is a tenant farmer who has profited well and employs a bevy of household and agricultural laborers. He follows the old traditions of dining and gentility which the aristocratic ladies of Cranford find to be comforting and proper.

Mr. Holbrook is also a figure of missed opportunity that can never be reclaimed. It is evident to the narrator that Miss Matty loved him dearly but circumstances beyond her control prevented their marriage. Their relationship has been pointedly neglected for decades but a chance encounter and intervention from Miss Pole reunite the couple. It appears that their love may be revived but then Mr. Holbrook embarks on his lifelong dream to visit Paris. He dies shortly after his return and Miss Matty is left mourning for the marriage and family which she was denied.

Questions for Symbols

View all
Give brief grooming tips for men in interviews. What they should look like.
Visit several public buildings and evaluate their interior design. Document color choices and flow in space that provide the overall feel of the interior and reflect the purpose of that building. Revi
What are the Sub-culture We basically find in Bangladesh? How we can Sub-divided Our Culture In Bangladesg
Refute the statement below by using at least one example to show how the point is in error or illogical. Sum up the opposite point of view, the one you are proving in the last sentence to make a stron
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Cranford? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!