In the novel Cranford, there's a particular line that I'm having trouble understanding:

If a married couple come to settle in town, somehow the gentleman disappears.

I thought about it, and I came up with the following hypotheses:

  1. The men are forced to leave town by the ladies of Cranford.
  2. The men have a tendency to mysteriously vanish from Cranford.
  3. The men choose to avoid Cranford as much as possible.
  4. Then men have no job opportunities close to Cranford.

I'm not sure which hypothesis is right. Does anyone have any insight?

Here's an excerpt from the novel if you have not already read it: Excerpt from the Novel Cranford By Elizabeth Gaskell

  • Any chance of a page/chapter number of that line (to make it easier to find)?
    – user111
    May 27, 2017 at 4:45
  • There's a link to the excerpt here. pastebin.com/Ns51zdFR If you have an online version of the original novel, you can probably click ctrl f and search for it.
    – Hero
    May 27, 2017 at 6:35

1 Answer 1


I don't believe the men are actually 'forced out' or mysteriously disappear. This line (I believe) refers to Gentlemen in the social life of the class focused on in Cranford. These men do not then actually have to be gone to have 'disappered' they just have to be socially inactive or unimportant.

As most of the women are elderly it is likely that most of the men have died off (naturally) as at that time it was quite common for men to marry younger women (and so they often passed away before their spouses). If meomory serves me Cranford is a sort of retirement area, few young people (of the class focused on) live there and so this explanation seems the most likely to me, especially as time stretchs in Cranford and the men may take a year or more to 'disapper', and still be thought to do so. They may also simply suffer from some age-related illness and so not 'go out' and thus not be seen in social life.

Added to this, as I understand it, the women simply dominate. The men in the town do not really participate in social life because it is a women dominated area and the younger ones probably do soon leave to find better prospects. The older healthy Gentlemen probably go off to their club, or stay with friends frequently because their is not much social life for them in Cranford and so are not seen much. While their wives are seen because they do enjoy the social life in Cranford.

  • BTW, just so you know, one of the hypotheses is true.
    – Hero
    May 27, 2017 at 16:30
  • @Hero how do you know that?
    – user25
    May 27, 2017 at 19:35
  • I just know. Why?
    – Hero
    May 27, 2017 at 22:55
  • 2
    @Hero because this feels like a homework question or the like, instead of just a general interpretation question. And we're not really here to do homework type things for you.
    – user25
    May 29, 2017 at 4:05
  • 1
    So users are not allowed to ask for homework help here? You mean to tell me that you prefer if no user here wanted help with literature even though they are trying to understand it because the material is scholastic? A homework related literature question is unacceptable here? I observe everything I posted and I find no wrong-doing in my request. The only wrong I see is someone refusing to help simply because the question is homework related. BTW, I never asked anyone to DO anything for me, I was simply asking for guidance. You should be careful not to be accusatory.
    – Hero
    May 30, 2017 at 5:11

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