In the short story “Quality” John Galsworthy has used the element of contrast effectively to bring out the theme of the story. Discuss.
In John Galsworthy’s story “Quality”, the writer has used the device of contrast to highlight how the real artful creators of handicrafts are facing tough challenges in an age of marketing and advertisements. The appearance of Mr. Gessler and his shop at the beginning of the story and a changing scenario in the course of the story portrays the decline of cottage industry due to stiff competition from large firms in the backdrop of Industrial Revolution in England in the 20th century.
The protagonist of the story, Mr. Gessler himself has voiced his dissatisfaction over the large firms who are gaining more and more customers in unethical ways which are in quite contrast to how conventional shoemakers have done for years.
While the traditional shoe-makers like Gessler brothers solely rely on the quality of the shoes they make to attract customers, the newly-incorporated big firms do that by more and more advertising. This is quite evident in the fact that on the shop’s signboard he used merely his own German name of “Gessler Brothers” and only a few pairs of boots were kept in the window as samples. There was nothing showy and he only made shoes on orders. On the other hand, while another shoemaker cropped up occupying one half of Gessler’s shop, they indicated in their name plate that they made shoes for the Royal Family.
While the conventional shoemakers take longer time to make shoes, the big firms can deliver a number of shoes instantly as they have ready-made shoes. While Gessler Brothers’ shoes only got better with time, the large firms supplied sub-par quality shoes as we see that the shoes our narrator bought from such a large firm was not fully comfortable for him. While the traditional artful masters of the job were committed to their vocation, the large firms took it as mere business.
Again, Mr. Gessler getting older and feeble with time and finally the two Gessler brothers’ death — the elder brother dying of the shock of giving away one part of his shop and the younger one dying of slow starvation — give a hint at the decline of their fortune in contrast to their good times when people valued the traditional shoemakers for their art.
Thus, Galsworthy has used the device of contrast to the full extent to bring out the theme of quality versus marketing efforts in his story “Quality”.