Mitchell is Kirby’s brother in law, who is in town to study the institutions of a Slave State. He is one of the men who visits the mill with Kirby, Doctor May, and the reporter, and is the man Deborah steals money from. Upon their meeting, Hugh is immediately fascinated by Mitchell, as he appears to be the kind of wealthy, intellectual gentleman that Hugh has always dreamed of being—even Mitchell’s voice seems to exude elegance. Hugh’s interactions with Mitchell make Hugh more painfully aware of his unsatisfying life and wasted potential. In addition, Mitchell is the only person in the group of visitors who understands the meaning behind Hugh’s statue, recognizing that the statue is hungry for life and for answers from God. Despite his artistic eye, Mitchell reveals himself to be cold, emotionally detached, and arrogant. Mitchell only interacts with Hugh for the sake of amusement, both at the mill and when visiting Hugh in prison. Although he is critical of Doctor May’s hesitance to help Hugh, Mitchell’s remarks seem to be said in jest. He ultimately distances himself from social issues, firmly asserting that the workers must rise up on their own without outside help.
Mitchell Character Timeline in Life in the Iron Mills
The timeline below shows where the character Mitchell 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
...is paying his workers in a timely manner. Trying to get Kirby worked up further, Mitchell quotes scripture and compares Kirby to Pontius Pilate. Mitchell also quotes scripture for Doctor May,... (full context)
...May quickly shrinks back, claiming he doesn’t have the finances to be of actual help. Mitchell interrupts with a snide remark, and Doctor May sharply responds that helping Hugh would be... (full context)