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10 thoughts on “North and South

  1. Barry Pierce Barry Pierce says:

    It's Pride and Prejudice for Socialists.

  2. Blacky *Romance Addict* Blacky *Romance Addict* says:

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    This will be a quote/pic review, I don't have time for a long one, and this is such a classic, that whatever I write won't be good enough :)
    There will be spoilers as some of my fav quotes, just so you know :)

    Thornton and Margaret <3

    "He almost said to himself that he did not like her, before their conversation ended; he tried so to compensate himself for the mortified feeling, that while he looked upon her with an admiration he could not repress, she looked at him with proud indifference, taking him, he thought, for what, in his irritation, he told himself he was-a great rough fellow, with not a grace or a refinement about him."

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    "He shook hands with Margaret. He knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact."

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    "He laid her down softly, and looking on her pure white face, the sense of what she was to him came upon him so keenly that he spoke it out in his pain:
    'Oh, my Margaret-my Margaret! no one can tell what you are to me!'"

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    'I dare not hope. I never was fainthearted before; but I cannot believe such a creature cares for me.'
    'But I know she does not care for me. I shall put myself at her feet-I must. If it were but one chance in a thousand-or a million-I should do it.'

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    'You look as if you thought it tainted you to be loved by me. You cannot avoid it. Nay, I, if I would, cannot cleanse you from it. But I would not, if I could. I have never loved any woman before: my life has been too busy, my thoughts too much absorbed with other things. Now I love, and will love. But do not be afraid of too much expression on my part.'

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    "How was it that he haunted her imagination so persistently? What could it be? Why did she care for what he thought, in spite of all her pride in spite of herself?"

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    "He lashed himself into an agony of fierce jealousy. He thought of that look, that attitude!-how he would have laid his life at her feet for such tender glances, such fond detention!"

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    "What shall I do? What do I mean? Why do I care what he thinks, beyond the mere loss of his good opinion as regards my telling the truth or not? I cannot tell. But I am very miserable! Oh, how unhappy this last year has been!"

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    'Where she had suffered so much.' Alas! and that was the way in which this eighteen months in Milton-to him so unspeakably precious, down to its very bitterness, which was worth all the rest of life's sweetness-would be remembered.

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    'I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.'

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    'Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!'
    'Not good enough! Don't mock my own deep feeling of unworthiness.'

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    My buddy reader Nicole said everything there is to say about the book, just beautiful, if you want to know more, just read her review :)


    *buddy read with Tea, Karen, Nicole, Cathy, Amaryllis and I think there were some more people ahahhahah, anyway A LOT OF US*

  3. leynes leynes says:

    I finally figured out why I love North & South so fucking much: John Thornton is as invested in his relationship as I am. And that means a great deal. It's very rare to get such a deep look into the emotions of the male love interest but Gaskell didn't shy away from showing us our beautiful precious son from his most vulnerable side. The way he is (in a non-creepy way) so preoccupied with Margaret and constantly talks about her, so that his mother and sister get super annoyed just by the mention of her name, like HONESTLY SAME, JOHN, I, too, do nothing else but talk about Margaret and you. This is some relatable content right there.

    Elizabeth Gaskell has such a way with words, I am so obsessed with her beautiful language (and also with all of the fitting poems that she chose as epigraphs for her chapters, gosh!); I literally cannot believe that she was friends with Charlotte Brontë ... like hun, you can do better!

    Anyway, back to my favorite topic: Mr John Thornton. I have written down his TOP 10 moments (in chronological order) and, of course, I'll gladly share the list with you:

    1) His first meeting with Margaret

    He almost said to himself that he did not like her, before their conversation ended; he tried so to compensate himself for the mortified feeling, that while he looked upon her with an admiration he could not repress, she looked at him with proud indifference, taking him, he thought, for what, in his irritation, he told himself he was — a great rough fellow, with not a grace or a refinement about him.
    John is just such a precious little boy, like, my man is just damn insecure and confused that he's so shook about Margaret, and honestly, I can relate. He tries so hard to gain control of his emotions but he's immediately besotted by her.

    2) His persistence of wanting to shake her hands
    It was the frank familiar custom of the place; but Margaret was not prepared for it. She simply bowed her farewell; although the instant she saw the hand, half put out, quickly drawn back, she was sorry she had not been aware of the intention.
    You could seriously make a whole saga about their hand touching business because Miss Gaskell really thought this shit through. I mean it takes so many tries for them to finally shake hands that when they do "he knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact." I love a self-aware queen! ;)

    3) His ability to admit his mistakes
    ‘I spoke hastily to you once this evening, and I am afraid, rather rudely. But you know I am but an uncouth Milton manufacturer; will you forgive me?’
    John and Margaret disagree on almost every single topic, especially when it comes to trade and life in the North compared to the South, and I love their exchange of blows ... but what I absolutely fucking stan are the moments of tenderness during which John tries to get on Maragret's good side again. I mean, he truly is a soft boiiiii.

    4) His eyes were on the goddamn prize!
    Mr. Thornton felt that in this influx no one was speaking to Margaret, and was restless under this apparent neglect. But he never went near her himself; he did not look at her. Only, he knew what she was doing — or not doing — better than he knew the movements of any one else in the room.
    John cares so much for Margaret. He wants her to have friends, he wants her to be accepted by the people in Milton. He genuinely wants her to be happy and have a good time ... but since he's an anxious smol son, AAAAAANGST gets in the way of him reaching out to her. I cry.

    5) The whole drama on the doorstep where Margaret gets hits by a stone
    Everything seemed dim and vague beyond — behind — besides the touch of her arms round his neck — the soft clinging which made the dark colour come and go in his cheek as he thought of it.
    Hold my fucking beer, because I knew I was a goner after this scene. Gaskell is such a drama queen and I am 100% here for it. That whole scene. What a mess! Thornton's complete lack of chill whenever Margaret is involved really mesmerises me.

    6) The damn proposal scene
    ‘And the gentleman thus rescued is forbidden the relief of thanks!’ he broke in contemptuously. ‘I am a man. I claim the right of expressing my feelings.’
    YOU TELL HER, JOHN! I mean, Margaret was completely savage in her refusal and I love her for it, but my precious boy did really well by standing his ground and letting more of his vulnerable side show.

    7) His jealousy which never turned into possessiveness
    He lashed himself into an agony of fierce jealousy. He thought of that look, that attitude! — how he would have laid his life at her feet for such tender glances, such fond detention!
    I mean, let's not kid ourselves, there's one thing this book excels at and that's pining BUT John is always soooo respectful when it comes to his feelings towards Margaret? He doesn't think she belongs to him, he's fully convinced she'll never have him and that she's too good for him and after her refusal, he just accepts that and leaves her alone, despite the fact that his feelings for her haven't vanished.

    8) The Farewell Scene
    ‘No!’ said he, ‘I put it to the touch once, and I lost it all. Let her go — with her stony heart, and her beauty; — how set and terrible her look is now, for all her loveliness of feature! She is afraid I shall speak what will require some stern repression. Let her go. Beauty and heiress as she may be, she will find it hard to meet with a truer heart than mine. Let her go!’
    I mean, BITCH, I cried. I really thought it was over at this point. Their farewell was heartbreaking. John was so bitter and sad about it but he knew there was nothing he could to, and so he let her be. Like, we stan a realistic queen!

    9) Their motherfucking reunion
    He came close to her. He knelt by her side, to bring his face to a level with her ear; and whispered-panted out the words:— ‘Take care. — If you do not speak — I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way. — Send me away at once, if I must go; — Margaret! —’
    These hoes really had me convinced that they wouldn't end up together, like, I had mentally prepared myself for Margaret marrying motherfucking Lennox (this man can choke, boyyy) and so you will believe how shooketh I was when I found out that Margaret and Johnny boy would be endgame. I mean, nothing will top his declarations of love.

    10) HE. HAS. NO. CHILL.
    ‘I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine. I went there on my return from Havre.’
    He went to Helstone, the place of her upbringing, like what? John is a hopeless romantic AND, not gonna lie, this book turned me into one as well. I watched the BBC mini series two times within the span of three days, and I need Richard Armitage as John Thornton in my life. He can get it any day.

    Apart from my love for my baby boy John, North & South has to offer a wide range of characters who are all interesting and well-fleshed out. I particularly enjoyed John's loving relationship to his mother, and how much she cared for him and wanted to protect him, but also all the drama surrounding the strike and the plight of the workers, especially Nicholas and Bessy Higgins were wonderful characters I grew very fond of. Dixon is a force of nature and I love her more than life itself; the way she cared for Mrs Hale and Margaret was so heartwearming, and she was also COMEDY GOLD!
    ‘Bless her!’ said Dixon. ‘She’s as sweet as a nut. There are three people I love: it’s missus, Master Frederick, and her. Just them three. That’s all. The rest be hanged, for I don’t know what they’re in the world for.’
    In general, North & South featured many moments that I could easily relate to: Margaret's disgust at all the men who are interested in her, her inability to refuse nicely, Margaret being tired all the time. She is hands down one of my favorite heroines in Victorian literature. Such a strong and self-determined woman! I will leave you with my favorite moment of hers: “He was speaking in a subdued voice, as if to her alone. She did not wish to be so exclusively addressed. She replied out in her usual tone.” What. A. Savage.

  4. Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ says:


    So about 5 years ago a friend and I were fangirling about Jane Austen generally and debating the merits of the various film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice--Colin Firth and Elizabeth Garvie (from the 1980 BBC version) FTW, by the way--and she says, "You have to watch this!" and hands me a couple of DVDs of North and South. And I say "thank you" but I'm thinking to myself, well, Patrick Swayze was pretty hot back in the day, but why on earth is she giving me DVDs of a U.S. Civil War miniseries when all we've been talking about is Jane Austen?


    So the DVDs got lost in the depths of my entertainment center and I never watched them. Then a year or so ago I met some GR friends who were all, North and South! Richard Armitage!! and lots of pictures (only some of them shirtless) accompanied this gushing. And very gradually it dawned on me that just maybe my friend had something other than the Civil War in mind with those North & South DVDs. So I dug out the DVDs and blew off the dust. Sure enough, they contain Richard Armitage, not Patrick Swayze. :) So I confessed to her (she got a good laugh out of it) and I've actually both watched the DVDs now and read the book, which I had never heard of before I joined Goodreads, so thanks, GR friends!

    North and South was originally called Margaret, but luckily Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell's mentor, changed her mind. It's been called "an industrial Pride and Prejudice," and that's really not a bad description. Most of the characters have pride in themselves and their own piece of English culture, and prejudice against those whose ways are different, and this is epitomized by the conflict between northern and southern ways of life in the novel. Margaret Hale is from the South of England, where the landed gentry and aristocracy are based; John Thornton is from the North city of Milton (based on Manchester), a center of the industrial revolution, with self-made men and workers who are starting to unionize.

    Margaret's family is forced, by their reduced circumstances, to move to Milton when her father dissents from the Church of England and leaves his living as a pastor to become a tutor. Thornton, a cotton mill owner, is one of Mr. Hale's students, and at first he and Margaret strike sparks off each other in all the wrong ways, although Thornton at least is very attracted to Margaret, who isn't like any woman he's ever come across before in his life. But both of them are prejudiced in favor of their own way of life and against the other's.

    'You do not know the South. Mr. Thornton,' she said, collapsing into a determined silence, and angry with herself for having said so much.

    'And may I say that you do not understand the North?' asked he, with an inexpressible gentleness in his tone, as he saw that he had really hurt her.
    While much of N&S is the story of how these two very different people learn to see their own (and their part of the country's) shortcomings and gain appreciation for the other person and their way of life, there is so much more going on in this novel that it would be a real disservice to view it just as a love story. Gaskell explores industrialization, the unionization movement and the changing lives of all of the characters. I could spend a long time talking about how she weaves in themes of prejudice, understanding, power and a person's duty to those he or she has power over, and the roles of women and men in society. Let's just say that Gaskell was a very advanced thinker for her time.

    Others have quibbled over the ending of the book, and I agree that it would have been nice to read more about (view spoiler)

  5. Candi Candi says:

    Update June 16, 2018: I watched the BBC production this past week and it was outstanding! I highly recommend pairing the book with the movie. While I rated the book 4 stars, the entire package of paper and screen is a sure 5+ stars. The movie adds that extra bit of magic that I found didn't come across as well in the writing alone. And the acting? - superb! Yes, I did need to fan myself on several occasions - thank you Richard Armitage. And that ending.... sigh :)

    About three or four years ago I picked up a copy of Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters on a whim, never before having heard of the book or even the author for that matter. (I know, thank goodness for Goodreads or I would forever remain in a state of ignorance!) I did not expect to become absolutely smitten with both the novel and its characters. I immediately placed it on my ‘favorites’ shelf and added numerous other Gaskell works to my list. Finally, I have gotten around to reading another.

    I will start out by saying that I truly enjoyed and appreciated this work of fiction. Set in England during the time of the Industrial Revolution, North and South tackles some of the major economic and social issues of the time. Gaskell earnestly depicts the differences between the north of England and the south of England both geographically as well as through her characters. With great insight, she portrays the conflicts between the working class and the more affluent mill-owners, the ‘masters’. She is sympathetic to both, realizing that each depend upon a mutual understanding in order to thrive.

    "I see two classes dependent on each other in every possible way, yet each evidently regarding the interests of the other as opposed to their own; I never lived in a place before where there were two sets of people always running each other down."

    Margaret Hale has lived a life of luxury in London with her Aunt Shaw and cousin Edith for some time. When she moves back to the relative tranquility and more modest living of her parents' home in Helstone, she quickly adapts to her new surroundings. However, when her father decides to leave his position as minister of this small hamlet and uproots the family to the manufacturing town of Milton in the north of England, neither Margaret nor her mother are at all keen about this sudden upheaval. The ‘north’ is a place of smoke and fog, factories, factory-workers and tradesmen. Margaret brings along some of her preconceived notions and prejudices to Milton: "I call mine a very comprehensive taste; I like all people whose occupations have to do with land; I like soldiers and sailors, and the three learned professions, as they call them. I'm sure you don't want me to admire butchers and bakers, and candlestick-makers, do you, mamma?"

    While in Milton, Margaret’s father, Mr. Hale, strikes up a friendship with the self-made industrialist John Thornton. Margaret and Thornton, on the other hand, clash immediately. But it is through this antagonism that each grows and learns from the other. Thornton is a man who at first appears hard and uncompromising. Like the others of his profession, he remains stolidly apart from his subordinates. Margaret eventually befriends millworker Nicholas Higgins and his ailing daughter, Bessy, whose lungs have been permanently damaged from her work in the factory. This newfound friendship changes Margaret from one contemptuous towards the working class to one that becomes an advocate of social justice. She has found new meaning to her life. "From that day Milton became a brighter place to her. It was not the long, bleak sunny days of spring, nor yet was it that time was reconciling her to the town of her habitation. It was that in it she had found a human interest."

    When Margaret inadvertently becomes involved in a mill-workers’ strike organized by the union, she and Thornton reach a turning point; yet misunderstandings, pride and former sensibilities stand in the way of what seems to be a mutual admiration. Margaret’s championing of the workers along with Thornton’s respect for Miss Hale and his recognition of the plight of his employees bring about much needed change. The question remains as to whether this will be enough for both a lasting harmony between ‘master’ and worker as well as a triumph of love between man and woman, that between north and south.

    This is a book that I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone that is fond of classic Victorian literature. It is a novel of tremendous self-discovery and excellent character development – particularly in the protagonists, Margaret and Thornton. It is an interesting and worthy depiction of the Industrial Revolution in England. It did not quite soar to the level of Wives and Daughters for me personally, perhaps slightly lacking in the magical charm of that beloved treasure. I also love a dash of wit sprinkled into my classic literature as well and did not quite find that here. Nevertheless, it is a very fine piece of literature and I’m very pleased to have read it. I have a copy of the BBC production sitting on my coffee table just begging to be watched. I anticipate a huge swoon fest with that one! I mean, seriously, who can resist Richard Armitage?! His voice alone is enough to make a fairly reasonable girl turn giddy. Maybe an update to the review on that later.

  6. Lisa Lisa says:

    "Pride and Prejudice" wouldn't have been a bad title for this comparative study of English society in the midst of the Industrial Revolution.

    I must say that I was prejudiced against it before starting, and have to swallow my pride and admit I was wrong!

    I thought it would be a dry copy cat version of Hard Times, as the circumstances of its publication seemed to suggest that. But never trust your prejudices - that is what I learned from reading this highly entertaining and original story, and it also constitutes the enduring message of the unfolding plot.

    A clash of cultures in miniature, between the traditional life style and manners of the South, and the raw, harsh, booming manufacturer ways of the North, it offers plenty of opportunities to play on different layers of pride and prejudice. The charm lies in the fact that each social group has its own code of honour, and feels contempt towards all other groups within English society.

    Margaret Hale and her parents, representing the South, despise the rough and straightforward behaviour of the rich and thrifty manufacturing people, and consider their education lacking and their company uninspiring.

    The North, on the other hand, represented by Mr Thornton and his family, sees the South as lethargic, sponging, and useless, and admires its own masculine strength, wealth and action.

    Both privileged classes, Northern and Southern alike, despise simple workers and their ideas, as well as servants and women in general. That is also reciprocal, and Elizabeth Gaskell brilliantly shows the arrogance and pride of workers, whose contempt for the manufacturers is just as strong as vice versa. Higgins, a passionate Unionist, takes pride in the organisation of a strike in exactly the same way that Thornton celebrates his ability to solve the issue to his own advantage.

    Pride and prejudice - all over the place. The slowly developing love story is threatened by the same problem. Rather than speaking openly to each other, both Thornton and Margaret choose to make up their own (prejudiced) minds on the behaviour of the (unconsciously loved) antagonist, and to proudly refuse any clarification of ensuing misunderstandings- until the very end.

    It sounds quite bleak, and the novel certainly does not paint mid-19th century life in idealistic colours, but Gaskell offers a solution to the social paralysis - on an individual level.

    What breaks the barrier of prejudice? Knowledge! As soon as Margaret understands the life of the people in the mill town Milton, she learns to respect it. When Thornton and Unionist Higgins get to know each other, and spend time together, prejudice changes into mutual respect, based on true understanding of the other person's perspective. Knowledge and communication are the best weapons against prejudice - in the novel, and in real life.

    And what destroys pride? Love. As soon as the characters realise they will lose what or whom they love, they are willing to overcome their pride and take a step outside their comfort zone. What Higgins refuses to do out of principle, he does out of love and compassion. And the same applies to Thornton and Margaret.

    It is possible to argue that Gaskell doesn't find a general solution for the clash of interests during the Industrial Revolution, and that she relies on strong personalities to step outside their social boundaries and reach out rather than on creating a social idea that works independently. That was my first thought. But then I reconsidered, and thought that it is precisely individual enthusiasm and willingness to make a change that puts social development in motion. No idea, and no theory are worth anything without people with an open heart, who see humanity in people who are entirely different from their usual environment and social training.

    True open mindedness starts with understanding the "other side" and with being curious to learn more about new perspectives.

    Individual effort pays off - in the long run. That is a stimulating and positive message!

  7. Katerina Katerina says:

    A true masterpiece.

    This story is now buried in my molecules. I can’t remove it even if I try, if I cut my heart open with a scalpel and dig deep, deep, deep. The blood pouring will still hum and whisper Elizabeth Gaskell’s words, will sing about Thornton’s passion, Margaret’s strength, about love and social war and loss and pain and faith.

    ❝ Take care. If you do not speak – I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way. Send me away at once, if I must go; – Margaret! –❞

    Raised in the ways of English aristocracy, despite her family’s rather poor finances, Margaret Hale was content with her life, her beloved Helstone with its fragrant roses and green trees, helping her father’s fold. But when her father decided to leave the Church and move to the industrial North, Margaret found herself between dirty, uneducated workers and tacky, rude mill owners, in the throes of Industrial Revolution. Mr. John Thornton, the mill owner who became regular visitor of her house due to the unlikely friendship that blossomed between him and her father, became her personal nemesis, representing the lust for money and the lack of finesse. Amidst strikes, illnesses and terrible losses, Margaret will see her life falling apart, shaping and reshaping according to the whims of fate. The question is, what kind of person will she be in the end?

    Many compare North and South to Pride and Prejudice and, at first glance, the similarities are there. Margaret is the embodiment of prejudice and pride when it comes to Mr. Thornton and his profession, with her stern refusal to actually open her eyes and see him. But the core of North and South is something different altogether. It is intense, not only as regards the passionate love story, but also as regards the heavy element of class antagonism, social mobility and fight. I struggle to find the words that will express the impact of this book on my very soul. It is turbulence, a maelstrom that cleansed my mind from thoughts about the present, and filled my senses with wild emotions. I suppose this is how falling in love feels like. Ever since I finished it, every time I think about it, my heart swells, like it can’t contain my strong, bottomless affection; I let out such affection with tiny, shallow breaths; my head is constantly buzzing, never leaving the dirty streets and the heavy smoke of Milton; a sweet shiver jolts my body and my eyes sting when I recall all the reasons it is embedded in my veins. It is the passion, in heavy silences, in heated arguments, in awkward pauses, in the beast of jealousy that devours Mr. Thornton’s insides and the snake of Margaret’s prejudice.
    ❝ He shrank from hearing Margaret's very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her – while he was jealous of her – while he renounced her – he loved her sorely, in spite of himself.❞

    It is the love, of a rejected lover, a father, a mother, a son, a brother, a sister, a daughter, a friend.
    ❝ Margaret was not a ready lover, but where she loved she loved passionately, and with no small degree of jealousy.❞

    It is the faith, along with the pertinent doubts, struggles, hesitation, acceptance, cowardice and strength.
    ❝ Margaret the Churchwoman, her father the Dissenter, Higgins the Infidel, knelt down together. It did them no harm.❞

    It is Margaret’s resilience, the humble habit of swallowing her pain, taming her agony and being the rock of her family. I can’t count the times I was furious at her parents for burdening her with the problems that were theirs to deal with. Her father for his inability to make decisions, and her mother for not appreciating her efforts. Margaret was a force to be reckoned with, a combination of thunder and soft waves, a scream in the dark and the chirp of a bird during a sunny day. We should all learn something from Ms. Margaret Hale.
    ❝ I know you despise me; allow me to say, it is because you do not understand me.❞

    It is the social and political aspect. The clash between industrial North and agricultural South. The disgust of the aristocrat towards the nouveau riche. The contempt of the merchant against the soft, indolent aristocrat. The lack of understanding that caused all the suffering. The arguments in favor of the labor movement and the strikes, of people despairing, trying to feed their families, and the arguments in favor of the employer’s right to use the money of the business he built through trials, blood and sweat the way he sees fit. I dangled between the two sides, admiring their tenacity, their belief in the righteousness of their cause. I mourned the losses holding Bessy’s hand and wept at Thornton’s anguish. In the end, North and South is a hymn to humankind. And since Elizabeth Gaskell masterfully depicts the beliefs of both sides of every clash, it is impossible to pick one. So, you take the side of love. The love of an ignorant young woman for a sick girl. Of a mother for her disgraced son. Of a proud man for the woman who can’t hide her distaste of him.
    ❝ I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine. ❞

    A poem, a lament, a lullaby, a war song, North and South is a literary phenomenon, a sublime novel, a poignant and spirited story which deserves its place amongst classics.

  8. Em Lost In Books Em Lost In Books says:

    “Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!'

    'Not good enough! Don't mock my own deep feeling of unworthiness.”

    It took Margaret and Mr Thornton 451 pages (my edition) to reach here and what a journey it was. Painful at times, and adorable at others.

    Margaret came to the industrial town of Milton from Haleston, a village. Her father who is a parson took Mr. Thornton as his student. Soon Margaret and Mr. Thornton find themselves on the opposite side of wall which has poor people on one side and rich on the other. Mr. Thornton realizes early on about his feelings for Margaret but as a proud and arrogant girl, she refused to see the utter devotion with which he loves her. Later on she came to sense but it was too late by then and she was on her way to other town and thousands of pounds richer.

    Ms. Gaskell shows us the strife of poor in those days of industrialization when almost everyone was struggling financially in the town of Milton. In my she sided with the poor but also showed us the side where rich were equally struggling to meet ends. She very cleverly has knitted this love story with social issue of that time.

    Characters have fault but humans are tend to have them and that's what makes this book so dear to me.

    Highly recommended if you can bear the slow pace, and the tug of war between rich and poor.

  9. Piyangie Piyangie says:

    This third reading brought to my notice that certain opinions that I have formed, especially on Margaret's feelings and emotions, were based on a misconception, and that I have failed to give my full attention to the subtle details that were so cleverly presented. To rectify this I'm obliged to amend my original review.

    North and South was my first Gaskell read. I read it after watching the BBC TV series and perhaps due to the influence of the TV series got the overall impression that this was a love story. However, I remember liking the book very much and this prompted me to reread the book. But after this second reading, I'm surprised to find it is to be otherwise. I mean, there is still a love story but that is not all. It is also about the clash of southern and northern ideas and the clash of the working-class and their masters.

    Margaret Hale, full of southern pride, finds herself suddenly placed in a northern industrial city. Having entertained a strong prejudice against the tradesmen, she views the northern mill owners to be similar uncouth men. Her pride and the misconceived notions mar her better judgment and she forms an instant dislike for Mr. Thornton. This dislike was mutual initially, but Mr. Thornton goes through gradual change; and although he dislikes her haughty ways, he slowly learns to appreciate her for her true qualities and falls in love. Margaret, though not as quickly as Mr. Thornton, too goes through this gradual change and learns to appreciate who he truly is.

    Gaskell's idea of bringing these two characters, as I see, is twofold. First, through these characters, one from the south and other from north, she shows us how the different views, beliefs, and misconceptions of the two ends were reconciled. The southerners saw the industrial northern cities as noisy, smoky, and full of uncouth people while the northerners saw the south as full of idle people who lacked action and also depth. It was interesting to see how Gaskell expressed these clashing views of both ends through her main characters, and the final reconciliation of the two was more like a reconciliation of North and South where both sides come to understand and respect their different ways. Second is, of course, for the obvious reason of filling a love story. Gaskell has achieved these two-folds end brilliantly. In my original review, which was written after my second reading, I have expressed my view that Margaret's and John's story lacked romance, that it was more one-sided on the part of Mr. Thonton's, and Margaret's feelings and her ultimate realization of her love for Mr. Thornton was rather forced. This is not so! I have misconstrued Margaret's emotions and feelings and have completely missed out on Margaret's subtle gradual change of perception and accordingly her feelings. There were words, phrases, sentences, direct and implying, which showed Margaret's changes of feeling. Even the sighs and the silence in between the lines contributed to the change! My inattention to these subtle details has blundered me in my judgment of Margaret and their romance. I'm very glad that my third reading has put me out of my misconception.

    On "master" and "hand" (workman) relationship, Gaskell stresses the importance of creating an amenable setting between the two classes to achieve greater productivity. The observation Margaret makes during a conversation with Mr. Thornton and her father that "I see two classes dependent on each other in every possible way, yet each evidently regarding the interests of the other as opposed to their own.." neatly summarises the antagonism of the masters and the working class. Higgins who represents the working class and Thornton, the masters were used by Gaskell to bring out the conflict between the two classes. It was very interesting to read the clash of these two classes through these two differing yet strong characters. The gradual change of opinion of Higgins and Thornton towards each other, not as a workman and master, but as human beings, and their growing respect for each other shows Gaskell's optimism for better relations of two classes.

    It was an amazing reread and I can honestly say that it is this reading that made me fully appreciate this beloved book.

    P.S. I wish there were few chapters added by Gaskell after Margaret and John met again on reversing circumstances and declare their feelings for each other. I may sound sentimental but I so wanted to read a little more than their initial declaration of love. :)

  10. Melindam Melindam says:

    3.5 stars

    Recommended to everyone who likes classic Victorian drama whether they have seen the stunning BBC mini series or not.

    N&S is about Hampshire-born (the South) Margaret Hale forced to leave her beloved home in the southern countryside as his father - a former parson - resigns his parsonage because of religious doubts and takes his family to Milton in Darkshire (the North). There Margaret makes friends with Nicholas Higgins, a poor, but honest and upright weaver and union man and his mortally ill daughter, Bessy. Their circumstances make her even more prejudiced against the North.
    She is appalled at the industrial, noisy, polluted and cruel milieu embodied in John Thornton, a proud, successful northern mill-owner, her father's pupil. Although Thornton is a straightforward man of honour and decency, Margaret condemns him as ungentleman-like, greedy for profit and cruel to workers. Their different principles clash right from the start.
    Thornton is aware of Margaret's dislike and contempt for him and his ways but he cannot help falling passionately in love with her, feeling all the while that he "is not good enough for her". Dramatic events - the riotous workers on strike threaten his life and Margaret shields him with her own body when they start to throw stones at him - make him confess his love for Margaret which is indignantly rejected by the girl (she has acted upon pure and general charity and would have done the same for all her fellow-men).
    The drastic change of scenery and circumstances affect the whole family very badly, especially Margaret's mother, Mrs Hale, whose health is continuously failing her. Margaret struggles to keep up family peace, to help out in household chores - as no proper servant can be found - and to be a son and a daughter in one for her parents.
    There is a family secret hidden from public knowledge: Margaret's brother, Frederic Hale, former officer of the Navy, is in hiding and wanted for having been the ringleader of a mutiny. His return would surely cost him his life, however, Margaret writes him a letter begging his return as their mother's last wish is to see him once more before she dies.
    Frederic arrives and spends some time with his beloved family, but is compelled to go away as he is threatened with discovery.
    Mr Thornton sees him & his sister saying their goodbyes at the station and takes them for lovers. That is the first time that Margaret realizes she cares about the possible loss of his good opinion of her.
    Unfortunately he is not the only one they encounter at the station endangering not only Frederic's life (he is able to escape) but Margaret's reputation as well. It is John Thornton, as magistrate, who helps to save both (the latter directly, the former indirectly).
    A chain of events change both Thornton's and Margaret's life taking Margaret back to the south, to London, and financial disaster is looming over Thornton, but they are fated to meet again ...

    I like the novel a lot, there is a great story and good, solid characterisation, but there are quite a few parts where it is just bogged down with much too much detail, especially when it comes to bad things happening to Margaret (and most of the time it is bad things happening). Elizabeth Gaskell grabs at every opportunity to wax on how saintly and heroic Margaret is in the face of all the tragedy that ensues after her father's -as it turns out- really catastrophic decision to leave the South. All calamity is described at length, Margaret's trumpet is being blown at every opportunity up to the point where I started disliking her a bit. And when we come to the happy ending??: WHAM - it gets dealt with in 1.5 pages, which leaves me disappointed. BAH! ... But it is all soooo worth it to have Richard Armitage play Mr Thornton in the TV series. ;)

    North and South gets compared a lot to Pride and Prejudice and while some parallels can certainly be found and similarities between Mr Darcy and Mr Thornton get pointed out, Margaret is no Elizabeth Bennet. (If I were pushed, I would say there are more similarities between her character and Fanny Price in a way: moral uprightness, but also an unforgiving stance to human weaknesses in others.)
    Still, I can't resist sharing with you this image :)

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North and South Margaret is compelledto move from Helstone, her beloved childhood home in the New Forest, to Darkshire in the industrial north when her father resigns his North andKindle parsonage owing to religious doubtsWhen she first encounters John Thornton, her father's pupil and a man in favour of the power of master over worker,she finds their views in conflict But industrial rebellion and family tragedy cause Margaret to learn the realities of urban life and Thornton to learn humanity Only then can a mutual understanding lead to the possibility of enduring love.

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • 521 pages
  • North and South
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • English
  • 13 July 2017
  • 9780140623758