Captain Brown sees his poverty as something he can remedy by working for the railroad, it’s a basic modern view that we take for-granted while reading Cranford; the idea of being able to raise out of poverty. It’s wholly new to the characters.
When speaking of poverty they consider it as “true and as common as death.” Just as there is no control over death, they felt there was no control over income– not if they wanted to remain gentile. Now, the captain is a man, which doesn’t stand for much in Cranford; He would be eccentric.
Shunned by the Cranford ladies for years until the barriers were broken by a kind invitation for tea, which Mrs. Jameison, of course, doesn’t deign to accept– Miss Betty Barker is able to offer them more comfort and luxury than they experience in their own lives.
The true test comes when Miss Matty meets with financial disaster and she begins to take matters into her own hands with the support of the village, marking one of the many transitions of Cranford coming into the new world.
Which others do you see? Please share your thoughts!