In chapter one titled "Our Society" of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel Cranford, is Captain Brown a flat or round character?

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In "Our Society", chapter one of the novel Cranford, Captain Brown is a round character. Round characters are presented to the reader like real people, in comparison to flat characters who only show the reader their superficial, one-dimensional surface.

In this chapter the reader learns that "the ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient" and prefer to live without men. They believe that "'a so in the way in the house!'” (2). In comes Captain Brown, "a half-pay captain" who "had obtained some situation on a neighbouring railroad" and moves to Cranford. He instantly challenges the "Amazonian" women's rules of society, annoying the narrator and Miss Jenkyns, the town's matriarch.

First, we learn that in a society where the women believe it tacky to speak of money, Captain Brown boasts that he is poor, and we are given specific details about his personality and speech:

I never shall forget the dismay felt when a certain Captain Brown came to live at Cranford, and openly spoke about his being poor—not in a whisper to an intimate friend, the doors and windows being previously closed, but in the public street! in a loud military voice! (6).

Next, we are told that Brown “spoke in a voice too large for the room, and joked” often (7). He is also “friendly, though the Cranford ladies had been cool” to him, and is sarcastic and honest, all traits that the narrator thinks are those of “a man who was not ashamed to be poor.”  The narrator is extremely surprised that Captain Brown, as annoying as he is to her, has earned an “extraordinary place as authority among the Cranford ladies.”  However, despite his popularity, the reader is told that he is not changed by it, but remains unpretentious and friendly.

Finally, more details that develop Brown into a round character are the fact that he has two daughters, Miss Brown and Miss Jessie, and we are given specific details about his children. The reader is even told that Brown “had taken a small house on the outskirts of the town”(8). Through the use of imagery, the reader can imagine what Brown looks like: he is described as being around sixty years old but having “a wiry, well-trained, elastic figure, a stiff military throw-back of his head, and a springing step, which made him appear much younger than he was" (9).

The abundance of imagery and specific details about Captain Brown's personality, appearance, living/professional situations, and family makes him an obvious round character that grows on the reader, just as he did the women of Cranford.

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