North and South

Walmart # 558380945

North and South

Walmart # 558380945
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"First published serialized in Household words 1854-1855. First published in two volumes 1855"--T.p. verso.

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A socialist tract, a paea

A socialist tract, a paean to capitalism, a Victorian love story, a bildungsroman, or a realist portrayal of life in mid nineteenth century industrial England. This very wonderful novel is all of these things; what it is not is a novel about the divide between the North and the South, but this title was suggested by Charles Dickens whose own novel Hard Times had just been published. Hard Times a novel also concerned with working conditions was not one of Dickens's greatest achievements and lacked the breadth of vision that Mrs Gaskell achieved with North and South. Mrs Gaskell's original title was Margaret Hale and her novel charts Margaret's course from a well born but impoverished parson's daughter to an heiress and part owner of a large textile mill. The novel opens with Margaret staying with her wealthy cousins in London, but after her cousins marriage she rejoins her parent at Helstone a hamlet in the New Forest. She loves the gentle country life, but the family faces a major change when her father must give up his parish over religious scruples and opts to move to Milton (Manchester) the centre of the cotton industry, where he will eek out a living as a tutor. The family find Milton noisy, ugly, dirty and crowded but Margaret is determined to make the best of it for her parents sake. She makes friends with the Higgens family: mill workers and trade unionists while her father becomes a tutor to Mr Thornton a mill owner and captain of industry. Mr Thornton falls in love with Margaret but she is repelled by his hard commercialism and rejects his marriage proposal. The novel charts the bildungsroman of both Margaret and Mr Thornton which must happen before they can reach any kind of accommodation. The reader of course recognises their suitability and similarity and the outcome to their possible relationship is only revealed on the last page of the novel. Here is Mr Thornton's view of Margaret when he first sees her in some rented rooms: "but now that he saw Margaret, with her superb ways of moving and looking, he began to feel ashamed of having imagined that it would do very well for the Hales.....Margaret could not help her looks, but the short curled upper lip the round, massive upturned chin, the manner of carrying her head; her movements full of soft feminine defiance always gave strangers the impression of haughtiness" And this is Margaret's view of Mr Thornton when she sees him at dinner talking to his colleague Mill Owners: "some dispute arose, which was warmly contested, it was referred to Mr Thornton who had hardly spoken before, but who now gave an opinion, the grounds of which were so clearly stated that even the opponents yielded. Margaret's attention was called to her host; his whole manner as master of the house, as entertainer of his friends was so straightforward, simple and modest as to be thoroughly dignified. Margaret thought she had never seen him to so much advantage". Margaret's friendship with the Higgens family which has allowed her to see the suffering of the mill workers at first hand has driven a wedge between her and Thornton: "Margaret's whole soul rose up against him while he reasoned in this way as if commerce were everything and humanity nothing" The battle between commerce and humanity, capital and labour is fought out in the factories and mills of Milton and the rhetoric used then is just as relevant as it was in the 1980's when Britain's industry was reshaped under Thatcher's government. Mrs Gaskell guides the reader to a more humanitarian view; the fight between the masters and the men could be ameliorated if only they would take note of what each was saying. Both their livelihoods depend on the success of the industry and if they could find ways of working together then surely it would be to everyone's benefit. This is skillfully reflected in the battle of wills between Margaret and Mr Thornton whose own love story is brilliantly woven into the fabric of the events on the industrial battle ground. The struggle between the masters and the men is a titanic struggle for power and the hard headed Thornton sets himself against Higgens who becomes a sort of working class hero. Gaskell refuses to take sides as she ensures that both viewpoints are given equal weight. Higgens and Thornton are both proud men but are also honorable men and it is through Margaret's friendship with both of them that at last a dialogue can begin. Mrs Gaskell has Higgens speak in the local dialect which highlights the differences between him and the mill owners but also between him and the Hales family. It is superbly done. Milton is brought to vibrant life through Margaret's eyes and becomes almost another character in the novel. The smoke and the grime, the rough streets the workers pouring out of the factories at certain times of the day catching Margaret unawares and always ready with some witty comment about the way she looks. Mr Thornton's house is situated opposite his mill inside the factory gates, a large courtyard and a flight of steps is all that separates him from his work. Margaret and her family are horrified by the noise and the industry when they first visit. Change is the motif that runs throughout this novel. The vibrant trade capital of Milton is constantly changing and at a rapid pace. To succeed in their ventures then the attitudes of the mill owners must change as must the trade unionists. Margaret must adapt to her new situation and Mr Thonton must change his way of thinking if he wants to win Margaret. The people who cannot change must make way and there are plenty of deaths, most of which have repercussions for Margaret. Both her parents die, Bessy Higgens finally succumbs to her terminal illness contracted whilst working in the mills. Mr Bell the Oxford friend of Mr Hale must also depart as his refuge in academia does not fit him for the new commercial world. Margaret's strength of character enables her to deal with all that life throws at her and although she bends she does not break and her experiences in Milton only serve to make her stronger. Mrs Gaskell's achievement in bringing off this novel should be admired by every reader. The avoidance of sentimentality, her refusal to take sides, her realistic portrayal of industrial conflict and the brilliant characters that people her book all add up to a wonderful reading experience.

Do you ever read the Intr

Do you ever read the Introduction to a book and then wish you hadn't? Or not, at least, until you had read the book? The intro in my edition was no less than 26 pages long. It discussed, among other things, the "question of rebellion: how far is the individual justified in pursuing individual freedom of thought or action in defiance of social authority?" This question clearly colored my reading of the story itself. I was surprised really at how many of the characters of the story were essentially very weak. The strong characters of the book were people we met in Milton - the Thorntons and Higgins. Margaret goes through great trial and struggle, and ultimately does become stronger. She is also supported along the way by many people, though she often seems alone. The great question of the story regarding defiance of social authority is one we still struggle with today, and probably will forever. The public opinion pendulum swings back and forth between the "workers" and the "masters". I appreciated the way Gaskell answered the question in her story. She pointed out that there are gaps in understanding between the two groups, and that if the masters and the workers could learn to know each other and to work together toward a common goal, it would be better for everyone. Thornton attempts these changes in the end, and when asked whether he thinks his reforms will end the strikes, he says "Not at all. My utmost expectation only goes so far as this - that they may render strikes not the bitter, venomous sources of hatred they have hitherto been." An interesting idea, clearly still in reality, a work in progress.

Rochester is manipulative

Rochester is manipulative, Knightley's a nag, Heathcliff's a brute, and Darcy an occasional snob. But Thorton? Let's review his amiable qualities, shall we? A self made man who takes care of his family, refuses to risk his worker's paychecks, lies on Margaret's behalf even after she's callously rejected him and is humble enough to accept assistance from a woman. The plot in a nutshell: During the English Industrial Revolution, middle class Margaret moves to the harsh northern town of Milton. There, she meets Mr. Thorton, a mill owner with ideas about the world that initially clash with her own. Given that it was written 150 years ago, you'll need to be in the right frame of mind to wade through some social commentary and slightly archaic language, but the wonderful character development and the first class romance are worth it.

Think Pride and Prejudice

Think Pride and Prejudice is as good as it gets? Think you can't dream up a better romantic hero than Mr. Darcy? Wrong! Immediately read this, and understand why I would prefer Mr. Thornton over cranky Mr. Darcy any day of the week. He is a gentleman through and through, and his never-ceasing kindnesses toward Margaret should be enough to make anyone fall in love with his character. Also, being able to picture him as Richard Armitage (as in the BBC production of this story) doesn't hurt. Austen is better at the witty social commentary, I'll give her that. But, to replace that, Gaskell adds in a dash of Charles Dickens in her portrayal of the battle between the mill owners and the working class. It adds a real depth and interest to the story. Mr. Thornton is a manager of a mill, and even though Margaret Hale is involved with his family socially, she becomes close to the working family of Nicholas Higgins. She sees both sides of the ongoing struggle and eventual strike, and her views change quite a bit as she matures and the book progresses. For that matter, so do Mr. Thornton's. When you pick up this book, you will quickly become wrapped up in the story. The class struggles will engage you just as quickly as the Margaret/Thornton interactions. Although many people disagree with me that it beats Pride & Prejudice, there is still something for everyone to be found in the plot!

Margaret Hale has been ed

Margaret Hale has been educated in London but when her cousin Edith marries, she moves back to Helstone in Southern England, where her father is a vicar. When Mr Hale becomes a Dissenter of Church of England, he gives up his parsonage and moves his family north to the industrial town of Milton where he is to work as a tutor. John Thornton is the owner of one of the local cotton mills and is proud of Milton and its reputation for fine manufacturing and increased industrialization. Thornton and Margaret clash over their opposing views on the way of life in the slower, wealthier south and the faster, industrialized north. Margaret finds herself sympathetic to the plight of the workers and the poor in Milton. She befriends Bessy Higgins and her father Nicholas, who is a factory worker and union leader. Margaret is frequently in Thornton's company as he and her father become good friends. Thornton falls in love with Margaret but she rejects him as she does not think him a gentleman and that he is only interested in making money at his worker's expense. But Margaret gets an education in Northern ways and starts to appreciate Thornton for the man that he is. my review: I read North and South after watching the BBC production, after reading about it on Tasha's blog: Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books. Richard Armitage plays John Thornton and he is so sexxxyy! So I read the book. There has been some comparison to Pride and Prejudice but other than the relationship, it is not so similar. Gaskell focuses on more of the social aspects with the increased industrialization of Northern England. Margaret is the outsider and Thornton is the insider. Margaret is smart, strong, and independent. She is the one that has to break the news to her invalid mother that Mr. Hale has broken with the church and is moving them up North. She helps her father and many of the poor in Milton. In this way she does remind me of Elizabeth Bennett. Thornton is somewhat like Darcy in that he is headstrong and devoted to his family, but Thornton is not sulky and quiet. He is opinionated but fair. Gaskell also writes from Thornton's perspective as well as Margaret's. So we know what he is thinking and therefore THERE IS NO NEED FOR SOMEONE TO WRITE A BOOK CALLED THORNTON'S DIARY. Just saying. A blogger compared this book as a mix of Austen and Dickens and I agree with that. It really is an excellent novel that is much more than a love story and really delves into the social aspects of workers versus masters and unions and strikes. Watching the BBC production did not ruin the book for me and it helped to imagine Richard Armitage as Thornton. Yummy! This book is much better than my review and I highly recommend it. I also recommend watching the movie! my rating 5/5
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