ISC Echoes ‘Quality’ question and answers – quality upholds dignity of labour



Question : ‘Quality’ establishes and upholds the dignity of labour and the almost spiritual character of craftsmanship. Discuss.

Answer : John Galsworthy’s ‘Quality’ presents the true spirit of a craftsman. It is the story of a German shoemaker Mr. Gessler, who is the younger of the two Gessler Brothers. By means of this short story  the narrator wants to show the hardships and woes of traditional craftsmen in this highly commercial world.

          In fact the tit!e of the story has two connotations –

  • The quality of the Gessler Brothers as a human being ,who values – integrity, honesty and the quality of their product more than money.

  • The quality of the shoes made by the Gessler Brothers.

          ‘Quality’ is the struggle of traditional artists –   Gessler Brothers, for their survival against the big firms.  These big firms have large capital for marketing and advertisements to lurwe the customers to buy their cheap and lower quality products.

        In ‘Quality’, the author by means of the character of Mr. Gessler, upholds the dignity of labour and the  almost spiritual character of craftsmanship.


              The author presents Mr. Gessler as a man who believes in quality and not in advertisement. He made best quality shoes in whole London but his shop did not have any sign upon its face – 
” there was no sign upon its face that he made for any of the Royal Family – merely his own German name of ‘ Gessler Brothers’ ; and in the window a few pairs of boots. ” 

   We author presents Mr. Gessler as a skillful artist, who loves his vocation. When author asked him once, ” Isn’t it awfully hard to do, Mr. Gessler ?”He replied with a smile ” Id is an Ardt !”

            For him shoemaking is not  only a craft but it  is a sublime art. He loved his vocation so much that when he had to leave his work to attend the customers he appeared as if  he had been awakened from some dream of shoes or like an owl, who felt surprised in day light.   

            The author presents Mr. Gessler as the master of shoemaking, and perfectionist, who always used to custom fit the shoes according to the needs of an individual customer.  Mr. Gessler did not like to produce bulk quantity, he was against the mass production. For him customer satisfaction is much more important than money – making.  He was so well – versed in his vocation that he could tell whether the shoes were made by him or somebody else by simply looking at them. Further he could make out where the shoe might be hurting the wearer by just looking at them.
   ” He put his hand down and pressed a figure on the place where the  left boot , endeavouring to be fashionable, was not quite comfortable. “
   “Id ‘urds you dere.” He said.

          Mr. Gessler was a man of honesty and integrity. He never compromised on quality and excellence, even if it meant more work, dwindling customers and profit. He always used the best quality leather and took as much time as required to make a perfect pair of shoes. He took several days and even weeks to deliver the narrator’s shoes, but never delivered a bad quality product. From narrator’s point of view –
  ” his boots lasted terribly, having something beyond and temporary – some, as it were essence of boot stitched into them.”

He was every inch honest to his profession. One day when narrator objected that his shoes creaked, Me. Gessler could hardly believe it and asked the narrator to give the shoes back to him so that he can mend it, he also promised to take them off the bill if they could not be repaired.
             Mr. Gessler was a traditional artisan  who was sad not for their dwindling business but for the gradual degradation of the art of shoemaking.
” Dey get  id by adverdisement , nod by work. ” 
       His complaint from the big firms was not for taking over their business, but for taking over their  customers by advertisements  and not by quality products.

       He continued his struggle for existence without giving in to the pressure of competition and advertisements.  He was forced by circumstances to away a part of his shop. His elder brother could not get over the pain of losing one half of their shop, and died. Mr. Gessler was so  committed towards his work that despite losing his  brother and  a part  of their shop, he  continued his  business of shoemaking with  the same commitment. The narrator wants to show the struggle of a traditional craftsman by means of the struggle of Mr. Gessler Ashe says –
” Never gave ‘imself time to eat ; never had a penny in the house. All went in rent and leather.”
   In his mind, Mr. Gessler’s commitment to his work and the satisfaction of his customers far outweighed his  own needs.

     Apart from all those adversities Mr. Gessler shows the fighting spirit of a true craftsman who values his work and art  more than money till his end.

        Thus the story ‘Quality‘, upholds the dignity attached with labour of every work and presents almost spiritual character of craftsmanship which can motivate any artist to carry on through all the adversities.

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