ISC Echoes Quality workbook answers – hardship faced by traditional artisans



Question : With reference to the short story “Quality” state the hardship faced by traditional artist in the backdrop of industrial Revolution in England.

Answer :The Industrial Revolution that began in England in the middle of the eighteenth century and later on spread to the other parts of the world had a far  reaching  impact on the lives of traditional artisans. The story ‘Quality‘ depicts the hardship of such artisans in the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution, where mass production compromised on the quality of goods and led to the slow decay of the cottage industries and the artists  associated with such industries.

     The Gessler Brothers are portrayed in the story  as traditional craftsmen associated with the business of shoe making. They have to face several hardship out of them  some are –

  • Stiff competition from Big Firms
The narrator came to realise the woes and hardships of his business, caused by stiff competition from big firms, which mass produced goods using machines and sold them in market by luring the customers with sparkling  advertisements.
     The Gesslers found it difficult to exist in the industrialised world, marked by mass production and cut – throat competition. The Gesslers  were against the mass  production. They seemed to be so well – versed in their  vocation that they  could tell  whether the shoes were made by them or somebody else by simply looking at them. Mr. Gessler did all the work with his hands from working on  leather, taking measurements, designing and finalising the shoes as per the demands of each customer. In this process they  took a pretty long time and  their income has dropped down.

  • Less profit

     The Gessler Brothers were small businessmen, they did not have huge capital to spend  on  glittering advertisement.  Although they made best quality shoes in the whole city but they have lost most of their customers with time. They used best quality leather and custom made shoes for each and every customer, but customers were attracted towards  those cheap and low quality machine made shoes.  All their profit went in giving rent and buying best quality leather. They have got less and less profit day by day. He finally died of ” slow starvation. “

  • Maintain good quality at low price

    In this  industrial world, Mr. Gessler had to face stiff competition with big companies. These companies had huge  capital, they used machines for mass production this made their product’s price low. On the other hand Mr. Gessler always used best quality leather and he himself made all his shoes which were custom made for each and every customer. He was a well – versed artist in his vocation, because shoe making  was a sublime art for him. His brother also made equally good shoes. They never compromised with quality. They never worked for money but for the love of their art. Although a big part of his profit was spent on buying best quality leather  but still they did not compromise on quality and made the best ever shoes he had made  and without hiking the price.

  • Loss of their Sanctum Sanctorum

For an artist, his workplace is  a sacred area where he can work  undisturbed. The Gesslers had two little shops let into one, they used to perform all their activities – from attending customer, taking measurements, working on leather, designing the shoes and giving the finished product. In their shop, they had a work area, reached by a wooden stairs and when they had to leave that area,  they felt disturbed as if they had been woken up from their dream of boots or like an owl surprised in daylight.  But due to dwindling customers and business, they could not afford the rent and had to part with one half  of their shop to a big firm,selling shoes. Mr. Gessler’s  elder brother could not tolerate the loss of their Sanctum Sanctorum that he passed away.

    Thus, the story poignantly depicts the hardships of the artisans, who did not go with tide by adopting new methods of production initiated by the Industrial Revolution. This led to their downfall.

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