Write a character sketch of Mr. Gessler, highlighting his wholehearted efforts to maintain excellence in his work.
Mr. Gessler is the younger of the two Gessler Brothers and the protagonist of
John Galsworthy’s story, ‘Quality’.
He is described as a passionate and hard working shoemaker, a ‘little’, short-statured man “as if made from leather”. His face was pale with lots of wrinkles and reddish hair and beard. His voice was guttural, in conformity with his German origin. The narrator has highlighted the importance of Mr. Gessler’s “gray-blue” eyes by divesting them with “the simple gravity of one secretly possessed by the ideal.” This indicates that Mr. Gessler’s ideal of being a perfectionist was reiiected in his eyes. Mr. Gessler’s mission in life seemed to make quality shoes as per the demands of his customers.
For Mr. Gessler shoemaking was a sacred vocation. Once when the narrator asked him if his work of shoemaking was awfully hard, he replied that it was an art. So for Mr. Gessler. shoemaking was not merely a craft but a sublime art. He was highly passionate about shoemakin as is evident from the fact that he performed all the activities himself like working on the leather, taking measurements and stitching the shoes. He made sure that the shoes made by him were not only durable but also comfortable.
Mr. Gessler’s passion for his work is also evident from the fact that while making the shoes, when he had to leave his work to attend to the customers, he appeared as if he had been awakened from some dream of shoes or like an owl, who felt surprised in daylight.
Mr. Gessler was a perfectionist. That is why he used to custom fit the shoes according to the needs of an individual customer. He was against mass production. He seemed to be so well-versed in his vocation that he could tell whether the shoes were made by him or somebody else by simply looking at them. Further he could make out where the shoe might be hurting the wearer by just looking at them. When the narrator, once went to the Gesslers’ shop wearing a shoe bought from another firm, Gessler simply pressed his finger on the place where the left shoe was not quite comfortable. In fact, it was his passion for his vocation of shoemaking that he continued his efforts to maintain excellence in his work despite all the hardships, including the death of his elder brother.
Mr. Gessler was a man of honesty and integrity. He never compromised on quality and excellence, even if it meant more work, dwindling customers and profits. He always used the best leather and took as much time as required to make a perfect pair of shoes. For him quality and customer satisfaction was much more than monetary gains. Once when the narrator complained that the last pair of shoes that he had bought from him creaked, Mr. Gessler was quite shocked. He kept looking at the narrator for some time as if he expected him to withdraw the complaint he had made. Despite that shock, Mr. Gessler asked the narrator not only to bring back the shoes to him for repair but also promised to take them off the bill if they could not be repaired.
Similarly, during his last days when he was practically on the verge of closing down his business, he still did not compromise on quality and made the best evet shoes he had made and without hildng the price.
Mr. Gessler lived his entire life in a small tenement where he worked and sold his goods. In fact, he devoted his entire life in making best quality shoes. He had to face stiff competition from big firms, which had sophisticated machinery and huge capital to advertise their products. On the other hand. Mr. Gessler did all the work with his hands from working on the leather, taking measurements, designing and finalising the shoes as per the demands of each and every customer. He never compromised on quality and always used best quality leather. Although his business was dwindling, yet he continued his struggle for existence without giving in to the pressure of competition and advertisements. He was forced by circumstances to give away a part of his shop. His elder brother could not get over the pain of losing one half of their shop and died. Mr. Gessler, despite losing his brother and part of their shop, continued his business of shoemaking with the same commitment as earlier. In fact, his commitment to his work was so strong that he gave himself no time to eat and relax, even when he did not have a penny in the house. All his profit went in giving rent and buying the best quality leather. In his mind, his commitment to his work and the satisfaction of his customers far outweighed his own needs. He iinally died of “slow starvation”.
Mr. Gessler, the artist died but his art continued to live through his admirers and customers like the narrator.
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