North and South

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This novel examines the nature of social authority and obedience and provides an insightful description of the role of middle class women in nineteenth century society. Through the story of Margaret Hale, a southerner who moves to the northern industrial town of Milton, Gaskell skilfully explores issues of class and gender, as Margaret's sympathy for the town mill workers conflicts with her growing attraction to the mill owner, John Thornton.


Gaskell's ninth publication masterfully captures the lives of people drawn together by mere life circumstances. Her characters from Margaret Hale to Nicholas Higgins, regardless of situation, are paid the same meticulous attention by Gaskell in her portrayal of an intricate story which encompasses a range of social issues such as the role of women in Victorian Britain, industrialisation and its effects on class divisions, as well as the changing landscape of Britain through such changes brought on by advancement in trade in urban areas depicted in the contrasts between Helstone and Milton. In Margaret Hale Gaskell gives strength to the ‘weaker sex’ rarely before seen in texts of her time whilst appealing to all readers with the emphasis of a number of households mainly within Milton itself. The text presents itself as well as a novel as it ever did in its popular serialisation in Dickens’ publication Household Words. --Submitted by A. Blackwood


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Recent Forum Posts on North and South

Which edition of North and South?

Hi, I just wanted to order a copy of "North and South" and found 4 different paperback editions by Vintage, Penguin Popular, Penguin Red Series, and Oxford. The Penguin Popular edition is very cheap. Is there anything against it? I just want to read it while listening to the Librivox audio.

North and South vs Northanger Abbey

I'm writing an essay comparing Gaskell's North and South and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Its focusing on their differing concepts of "romantic heroines" (for example Austen's satirical interpretation of gothic heroines) and was hoping for some ideas - any help would be welcome! Beside the obvious Milton/Helstone comparison, what are some of the juxtapositions presented in North and South? Possibly Mrs Hale/Mrs Thornton? Margaret/Edith or Margaret/Miss Thornton? Mr Thornton/Mr Lennox?

North and South Dis..

Hello All I wrote a thesis about marxist view with using "Milton" in North and South... What are your advices about this subject? for my dissertation thank you all

North and South vs Shirley

I have been watching the adaptation of Gaskell's novel and found similarity of theme to Bronte's Shirley. The difference that I see is that North and South has an external thematic dialogue while Shirley's is more internal but the resemblance is remarkable. I was wondering if somebody else had this feeling. Chronology Charlotte Bronte published Shirley in 1849. Gaskell met CB in 1850 and published North & South in 1855. And while the plight of the industrial worker, post the Luddite Revolt of 1811, is common to both novels, the treatment of the heroines, Caroline Helstone / Shirley Keeldar vs Margaret Hale, is distinctly different. Bronte's characterization emphasizes internal mental states while Gaskell describes the external leaving the inference of the characters motivations to the reader. Thus it would appear that while Gaskell could have been influenced by Shirley, Bronte's work is more original, especially stylistically.

BBC North and South

I've just finished reading North and South and watched the first two episodes of the BBC film/mini series. I'm kinda disappointed about the way they've made some changes to the plot and left out some things, e.g. - Margaret's visits with Bessy Higgins - Mr Thornton beating up his worker (which is not in the book, I think). On the one hand this seems very realistic and probably typical of the cruel treatment of workers at that time, but on the other hand self-control is one of the main themes of the book and Mr Thornton (just like Margaret) obsesses about self-control a lot. So how does that go together with his racing around the mill and beating the pulp out of the poor man? Do you think that's consistent? or maybe workmen don't really count as human beings, so it's o.k. for Thornton to give up his self-control opposite a worker? - Mr Thornton already (falsely) suspects that Margaret has other lovers in the the first proposal scene. what I did like was the portrayal of Milton, because in the film the harsh conditions that the workers live in are so much more vivid than in the book. Plus, I like the fact that ppl of all classes have a Manchester accent. In the book it's only the workers who have an accent and this makes them sound quaint and cute so that you don't really take them seriously as human beings, whereas the "masters" speak like Margaret. so is it worth watching the rest of the film? or does it dramatize the romance and neglect the other aspects of the book? what did you like/ dislike about the film?

Strog characters

I would like to discuss one of the strong characters - Mrs Thornton. What makes her so overly protective and sometimes overbearing ? Why does she deny her son his pleasure in reading and generally gaining theoretical knowledge ? Why does she immediatly take a dislike towards Margret ?

North and South

Can anyone suggest how the North and South engages and reflects social change in the narrative. Many thanks if you can help out.

Gaskell's North And South!!!

What is the significance of moving from Helstone to Milton in Elizabeth Gaskell's North And South? 1. A chance of changibility for Margarate's ideas. 2. Implied condemnation of the rigidity of clergymen. 3. Discovery of other morals of the north. 4. Change in the interest of Victorian people. Could you choose the fittest, please?

Richard Hale's religious dilemma

I would like to better understand Rev. Hale's religious dilemma- that issue he has with Church of England which causes him to renounce his position and move w/family to Milton. From his conversation + explanation with Margaret, I cannot grasp why he does not want to reaffirm his vows. Can someone assist me? :idea:

Greetings to Ms. Pawel's E8

Hi all, We're going to be using this as a tool, I hope, so I wanted to say hello quickly. Here are some questions to think about for Chapter 9 "Dressing for Tea" 1. Why is Mr. Hale nervous about inviting Mr. Thornton? 2. Why is Mrs. Hale annoyed by the invitation? 3. Why is Mr. Thornton nervous about the invitation? 4. Why is his mother annoyed by it? 5. How does Margaret feel about the invitation? 6. This chapter has two parts, the first dealing with the Hales preparing for tea, and the second dealing with Mr. Thornton and his mother. How do these two parts COMPLEMENT each other? How are they symmetrical? Any questions or comments about the chapter are more than welcome! Extra credit to those who post the answers!

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