Life in the Iron Mills

by

Rebecca Harding Davis

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Kirby Character Analysis

Clarke Kirby, known just as Kirby, is the overseer and the son of one of the mill owners. He only cares about his mill’s profits and is blatantly uninterested in the workers who make his mill function smoothly. To him, the mill workers aren’t even people, they’re just “hands” or “wretches” who do the dirty work. Like Mitchell, Kirby is cold and emotionally detached.
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Kirby Character Timeline in Life in the Iron Mills

The timeline below shows where the character Kirby appears in Life in the Iron Mills. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Life in the Iron Mills
Coping and Relief Theme Icon
...small group of men enter the mill. Hugh recognizes a couple of the men: Clarke Kirby (the overseer and the son of one of the mill owners) and Doctor May (a... (full context)
The City vs. The Country Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
One of the strangers compares the mill to Dante’s Inferno. Kirby laughs, while one of the other men suggests that many of the workers will probably... (full context)
Coping and Relief Theme Icon
The reporter leaves the mill, but Mitchell, Kirby, and Doctor May remain. Hugh begins to compare himself to Mitchell and grows increasingly upset... (full context)
The City vs. The Country Theme Icon
The Power of Art Theme Icon
After an hour, Mitchell, Kirby and Doctor May prepare to leave. As they turn the corner to exit the mill,... (full context)
The Power of Art Theme Icon
...Doctor May is more preoccupied with the statue’s accurate musculature. Flippant about the statue’s artistry, Kirby says the workers “have ample facilities for studying anatomy,” motioning to the half-clothed furnace tenders. (full context)
The Power of Art Theme Icon
Hugh answers that the statue of the woman isn’t hungry for food. Kirby sneers at Hugh’s answer and asks what the statue is hungry for. Hugh is “bewildered”... (full context)
The City vs. The Country Theme Icon
Doctor May asks Kirby how many of the other workers are artists and what Kirby plans to do with... (full context)
Words vs. Actions Theme Icon
Kirby rants about the concept of liberty, ultimately stating that he is not responsible for any... (full context)
Words vs. Actions Theme Icon
As Mitchell, Kirby, and Doctor May wait for their coach, Mitchell asserts that the workers must produce their... (full context)
Words vs. Actions Theme Icon
Mitchell, Kirby, and Doctor May prepare to leave. As a parting word, Doctor May reminds Hugh that... (full context)
The City vs. The Country Theme Icon
Coping and Relief Theme Icon
...morning, a crowd gathers at Hugh’s cell, including the coroner, a group of reporters, and Kirby. Later, a Quaker woman arrives and stays longer than the other visitors. She tenderly cares... (full context)