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North and South

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When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.

521 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1855

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About the author

Elizabeth Gaskell

916 books3,300 followers
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature.

Елізабет Гаскелл (Ukrainian)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,722 reviews
Profile Image for leynes.
1,116 reviews3,034 followers
May 8, 2019
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.

‘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.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,218 reviews9,915 followers
November 12, 2021
The following review contains a few plot spoilers. All right, more than a few.


Enter Margaret Hale, 19 years old, tall, and drop dead gorgeous.

Margaret : Oh dear, we have to leave our sunny Hampshire village where there are little bunnies and birdies and go to live in foul grimy Manchester where there are factories and poor air quality.

Mr Thornton : I am a mill owner and I am tall. I need educating so I am getting lessons in Greek from Margaret’s father. She is pretty tall too, so I will marry her.

Margaret : I will not marry you. Take a running jump.

Striking mill workers : Give us more money, you fascist pig. Our children are all starving. They are too weak to shoplift.

Mr Thornton : No.

Margaret : My mother needs another domestic servant. I will find one.

Bessy Higgins: I can do that. Well, I can if I ever get better. But I think Jesus wants me for a sunbeam. (dies)

Margaret : This is quite inconvenient.

Margaret’s mother : Cough cough. (Dies)

Margaret : My mother died. Why do bad things happen to tall beautiful girls?

Mr Thornton : I mistook Margaret’s brother, who returned to England and is in imminent danger of being arrested and hanged for mutiny on the high seas, for her boyfriend and now I am going to be indignant for 435 pages because tall girls shouldn't walk around with men.

Frederick : What a coincidence- Leonards, an old shipmate, has recognised me and is thinking he can claim the reward for my capture. I’ll just push him off this railway platform.

Leonards : dies.

Frederick and Margaret : WTF?

Mr Hale : I’ll visit my old friend Mr Bell. Hello Mr Bell. Oh, I feel a bit queasy. I’ll just lie down and (dies).

Mr Bell (Margaret’s godfather): This is unexpected. Margaret won’t like this one little bit.

Mr Bell: Margaret, your dad died.

Margaret : This is beginning to creep me out.

Mr Bell : Look on the bright side. I have made you my sole heir, so if I die, which, given the story so far, is not at all unlikely, you’ll be rich.

Mr Bell : dies.

Margaret : Let me out of this novel.
Profile Image for Blacky *Romance Addict*.
473 reviews6,303 followers
March 25, 2015

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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*

Profile Image for Candi.
623 reviews4,717 followers
June 16, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
September 25, 2018

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 , but I think from a literary and thematic point of view the ending is perfect:

Great book. Go read it. There are some fantastic discussions and analysis of the book and its events, characters and themes in the North and South GR group threads: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

Profile Image for Piyangie.
530 reviews491 followers
March 27, 2022
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. :)
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews535 followers
June 11, 2023
Who doesn't love to watch Richard Armitage raise his eyebrow and give you THAT LOOK!?!

I have to admit that the BBC TV series was far superior to the novel that it was based on. After watching this series, I was eager to read the book, but the story dragged on - and was even a tad melodramatic in some parts. Gaskell wrote this and several other novels in serial format. I suspect my problem with serialized Victorian novels is the same problem I gripe about today's serialized novels: TOO MUCH FILLER!

Elizabeth Gaskell was a very busy woman (out in the trenches, lobbying for workers' rights) and Charles Dickens (one of her publishers for this serialized novel) often had to hound her for each installment. You could tell from the book version that many portions were hastily written and lacked focus. Not her best effort, by a long shot.

. .

I really encourage you to watch this incredible series. Check out the scene where John Thornton walks through the cotton mill, with all the particles of cotton flying through the air, the workers dragging the enormous industrial weaving looms, while young children scampered underneath, picking up tufts of floating cotton. The scene is as mesmerizing as it is appalling.

Check out the trailer on Youtube:

. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

I rate the BBC TV series a solid 10 out of 5 - I bought the DVD for my own private collection - it was that good! (The soundtrack is DIVINE!)
I gave the book a 3.5 and rounded it up to 4 because... well.... Elizabeth Gaskell did draw attention to and fight for workers' rights, etc., but I have to admit, I didn't love this classic work. The DVD series, on the other hand... all the stars!!!! Check some scene samplings and the beautiful soundtrack out on Youtube: https://youtu.be/3ucZAkQmdN0

For those of you who have access to the Toronto Public Library system, you can now access this and many other British Literary Adaptations directly from their partnered website (Clarivale). Gotta love technology!!!
Profile Image for Luís.
1,947 reviews611 followers
February 2, 2023
If Jane Austen had met Emile Zola, it could have given North and South.
When Margaret Hale completes her London education in a year with her cousin and aunt, she returns to the South to her father, a pastor. She does not expect this good man to have lost his faith and become a tax collector in the North. One of his students, a wealthy self-made man, falls under the spell of the young girl, but he will have to face pride and prejudice. But also, its social conscience hatches in the face of the poverty of the workers, strikes, and demonstrations. While the North, in full industrial development, advances towards a new world, the South has remained conservative and rural. In the North, unions emerge; workers fight not to starve, and poor people question religion.
Margaret Hale is an Austenian character. Thirty-five years younger than our Jane, Elizabeth Gaskell pays her a perfect homage. "Daughter and wife of a pastor, the author is intimately familiar with provincial life and industrial circles."
And if the story begins with misunderstandings and oppositions, the North (grey, noisy, and polluted) against the green South, those of man and woman, those of workers against the bosses, etc. The purpose of Elizabeth Gaskell is to show that opposites can coexist, attract each other, and bring each other and that humans are at the center of everything.
"- once they left their respective roles of boss and worker, they each began to realize that the human heart is the same everywhere."
I spent four small evenings to end this novel, and I would have liked to read more slowly, stretching out time. But Elizabeth Gaskell's stories are so pleasant to read. To say that I didn't know her, only a year ago.
That's a shame.
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.9k followers
April 19, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
February 2, 2018
"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!
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,258 reviews1,132 followers
February 21, 2023
North and South. A simple enough title, but what are its concerns? It dates from the mid-nineteenth century, and has a female author. Is it perhaps a family drama?

The protagonist is Margaret Hale, and her extended family relationships and friendships certainly drive much of the novel. There is drama and tragedy. Two of those dear to both her and us die; one is almost permanently in exile and another branch of the family: the Shaws in London, are wealthy but rather shallow. Entering the scene are Mrs. Thornton, a jealous overbearing mother, whose son John is a mill owner and prominent citizen, and daughter Fanny, a frivolous young woman concerned solely with her fashionable appearances. Then there is Henry Lennox, a suave, clever lawyer. Emotional resonance comes with Nicholas Higgins and his two daughters, Bessie and Mary: a worthy family of deserving poor.

More than one character is proud and opinionated:

“A more proud, disagreeable girl I never saw. Even her great beauty is blotted out of one's memory by her scornful ways.”

Another, introduced in the nick of time, proves to be a benevolent friend.

Yes, it certainly is in part a family drama, with a heartening romance at its core. It could be read for this alone. North and South has echoes of novels from an earlier time, such as Jane Austen’s masterpiece, “Pride and Prejudice”. Even Margaret’s parents echo Elizabeth Bennet’s in some ways, although both here are more fully developed, and not as caricatured.

Or could it be seen as a pastoral novel? Take this beautiful description of idyllic Helstone, the much-loved Paradise on Earth of Margaret and her family:

“There was a filmy veil of soft dull mist obscuring, but not hiding, all objects, giving them a lilac hue, for the sun had not yet fully set; a robin was singing … The leaves were more gorgeous than ever; the first touch of frost would lay them all low to the ground. Already one or two kept constantly floating down, amber and golden in the low slanting sun-rays.”

Obviously the answer again is yes. Such a passage picked from North and South belies the main thrust of the novel, yet serves to illustrate the breadth of its scope. Elizabeth Gaskell, unlike Jane Austen, does not limit herself to close observation of the lives of the impoverished gentry, but is more akin to Charles Dickens in her concerns. One reason Elizabeth Gaskell’s second novel is such a great work, is that it successfully draws from several genres at once. It is not only a social novel but one of the first novels of the new age of machines.

We are lulled into a sense of security in the first few chapters. First we have what seems to be the beginning of a novel of manners, in which a care-free and rather silly bride, from a privileged family, prepares for her wedding. This is a false start however, as we then have a sudden switch to another comfortable setting, in the pastoral beauty of Helstone.

Yet here in the little village, we begin to have doubts. The Reverend Richard Hale, father of Margaret, is beginning to have a crisis of conscience. He withdraws into himself, reading ferociously, to try to find the answers, and his wife Maria is at first oblivious to his inner agonising. Is this then to be a religious novel? It seems possible. The author herself was the wife of a Unitarian minister, a Nonconformist branch of the Christian church, or in the vernacular of this novel, a “Dissenter”. Perhaps she wished to concentrate on the difficulties in reconciling such liberal beliefs with the traditional Church of England? Certainly her closest friend, Charlotte Brontë, believed this, saying that North and South was a novel about the church and:

“the defence of those who in conscience, disagree with it and consider it their duty to leave”.

These early chapters, with their two false starts, then soon begin to blur and transform into something darker and grittier. The early pastoral vision begins to wither, and be replaced by the soot and grime of the North. What we are reading now is a novel about the English condition; what will be seen in the future as an Industrial Novel, describing a conflict between the “masters”—the employers—and the workers in a cotton mill. By chapter 7 our main characters have been dragged out of their sleepy, comfortable pastoral haven, and, bewildered, are settling in the harsh, smoke-ridden, grimy town of “Milton”, an obvious reference to a town overwhelmingly focused on commerce, and the newly developing cotton mills:

“But I'm tired of this bustle. Everybody rushing over everybody, in their hurry to get rich.”

Interestingly, Milton is based on the Lancashire city of Manchester, where Elizabeth Gaskell herself lived. It seems not only ironic, but laughable now, that one scathing, contemporary reviewer accused her of making errors about Lancashire, which a resident of Manchester would not make. In addition it said that a woman could not possibly:

“understand industrial problems [and] would know too little about the cotton industry [so] had no right to add to the confusion by writing about it.”

The author was not then known as Elizabeth Gaskell, of course, but “Mrs. Gaskell”, and was published under this name. Her preferred title has only recently been adjusted by publishers, as you can tell by the edition of the book reviewed here, which was published in 1982, over 120 years later, and still under her chosen title.

The fact that she was female worked very much against her at the time she was writing, given the chosen themes of this novel. Right up to about 1950, she had been dismissed as a minor author, albeit one with good judgment, but limited by:

“feminine sensibilities … like a nosegay of violets, honeysuckle, lavender, mignonette and sweet briar”.

She was considered by critics to lack the “masculinity” necessary to write about social problems. However, in the 1950s and 60s, her novels began to be re-evaluated.

North and South is now seen in its true colours, as depicting complex social conflicts and through its main character of Margaret Hale, (a spokesperson for the author) offering better solutions. It is not only Elizabeth Gaskell’s favourite novel, but one of the greatest novels of the Industrial Age. Her description of social and industrial problems in her novels, and her vision against the prevailing views of the time, prepared the way for not only a different social structure, but also gave feminist movements a voice. Interestingly, it reached the public by being championed by her great friend, Charles Dickens, although the story of is publication is not entirely a happy one.

In 1848, Elizabeth Gaskell had written a very affecting social novel about the cotton mill workers in Manchester, and the deplorable conditions they had to endure. It was called “Mary Barton”, and caused quite a furore. With this new one, she hoped to show the masters of the mills in a better light. North and South is one of the best Victorian Industrial novels. But would you be more inclined to read it if it were titled “Margaret Hale”? For this is what Elizabeth Gaskell, originally intended to title her work.

At this time, Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens were very close friends, and shared many campaigning views. Elizabeth Gaskell’s works had already reached a wide audience, by being published in Charles Dickens’s own magazine “Household Words”, and the two had great mutual respect. But North and South was to end their beautiful friendship for ever.

As owner and editor of the magazine, Charles Dickens was extremely strict about what he included for publication. The factual pieces, for instance, were rarely attributed to any author, and only grudgingly did he eventually allow the serialised novels to have the author’s name attached. These were by people such as his great friend Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, and Elizabeth Gaskell. But the two authors strongly disagreed over about some aspects of her new novel. Charles Dickens, with his editorial power, insisted on the name North and South, the title we now know. He also insisted that it lose two chapters, and called Elizabeth Gaskell “intractable”, because she attempted to resist his changes!

It is well known that Charles Dickens liked to have his own way, but perhaps the main reason for such heavy-handed interference was that Charles Dickens had written his own social novel about the coming Industrialisation, and also set in a Northern town. It was originally published as a serial in his magazine, between April and August 1854, and called “Hard Times”.

As Dickens’s novels go, it was quite a short novel—in fact his shortest—and this may have been a mistake. He was attempting to boost sales of “Household Words” by issuing his new serial in weekly parts, instead of monthly parts, as formerly. But by compressing his story, he lost the sympathy of his audience. He had no time to woo them, to develop his ideas stealthily through the narrative, but had to state his case outright. His outrage at the conditions endured by those working in the cotton mills, or the appalling educational establishments of the time, and his ideas about the relationship between capital and labour come through rather starkly. The public were nor ready for quite such a savage indictment, for talks of “Unions”; neither did they appreciate the comic qualities of “Hard Times”. Dickens was working himself to the point of exhaustion, and described his limitations of space with the shorter piece as “crushing”. Compared with his other novels, some critics regard “Hard Times” as one of the lesser novels. Nevertheless, it is still probably more famous than North and South.

North and South was published immediately afterwards, in the same magazine, between September 1854 and January 1855. Probably because of Charles Dickens’s overwhelming popularity, “Hard Times” was the far greater success of the two, but it is likely that Charles Dickens did not want any new novel to detract from his own. He was very worried, for instance, that Elizabeth Gaskell might include a strike in North and South.

By the time North and South was published in novel form, Elizabeth Gaskell included an introduction alluding tactfully to these difficulties. She had wanted the “Household Words” serial to be to be 22 instalments, but it was compressed into 20 weekly instalments. When it was first published as a novel, she wrote and added an extra four new chapters, including both the first and last chapters. She also added chapter titles, and little epigraphs.

The two novels, although ostensibly having the same concerns, themes and settings, are totally different in feel and in their development. Reading “Hard Times” is like having a little taster of Dickens. Everything is there: his passion and outrage at social conditions, his pathos, his unforgettable characters, his irrepressible humour, all in a short, snappy, entertaining novel. And Elizabeth Gaskell’s leisurely novel gives us a variety and breadth of vision we have not seen before. It is a great shame that their differences were to end the two authors’ friendship for ever.

North and South is a truly great novel, which ticks all the boxes. It has a gripping story line, a broad remit encompassing the upper-middle, middle and working classes, and reveals the author’s powerful views on the iniquities of the early part of the Industrial revolution, through the actions of a small cast of characters. We see how Margaret Hale progresses from her views:

“I don’t like shoppy people. I think we are far better off, knowing only cottagers and labourers, and people without pretence”

into a greater understanding of the society she was to live in, and we see this new recognition and adaptation mirrored in many other characters such as Nicholas and Bessie Higgins and John Thornton.

If you enjoy Victorian novels, and have not yet read this one, I urge you to do so. North and South has a powerful story line, full of dramatic events and tension which is perfectly controlled and built up by the author, until you feel something simply must break. There is even a case of mistaken identity, which is pushed to the absolute limit. This novel is a real page-turner: a tale of loyalty and honour, respect and rebellion, which has both heart, and a breathtaking range of vision.

It is a good solid read, so if you like your novels to be substantial and thoughtful, perhaps choose this over the more popular “Cranford”, with its slightly dilapidated world of women in a rural setting, domesticity, and lightness of touch. North and South is, conversely, largely set in what was then seen as a man’s world. It is relentless in its look at society. Business and commerce are the order of the day, and any feelings and basic humanity almost become crushed in the ever-increasing demand for progress; sacrificed in the need to survive in this new Industrial Age.

“Margaret went less abroad, among machinery and men; saw less of power in its public effect, and, as it happened, she was thrown with one or two of those who, in all measures affecting masses of people, must be acute sufferers for the good of many. The question always is, has everything been done to make the sufferings of these exceptions as small as possible?”

“I don't know—I suppose because, on the very face of it, 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.”
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
905 reviews1,818 followers
August 5, 2018
“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.
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 2 books2,959 followers
April 30, 2022
What a brilliant book - one of my favourites of all time. There are so many things I love about North and South, from the social criticism and exploration of industrialisation, to the beautiful love story and complex characters. I adore this one.

Just as wonderful on every reread.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,446 reviews7,062 followers
April 12, 2021
A re-read that was just as brilliant the second time around!
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.7k followers
Want to read
May 12, 2023
i read 25 pages of this two years ago and now just have to live in the faith that someday i will find that same energy again
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews37 followers
May 23, 2022
North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South is a social novel published in 1854 by British writer Elizabeth Gaskell. Eighteen-year-old Margaret Hale lived for almost 10 years in London with her cousin Edith and her wealthy aunt Shaw, but when Edith marries Captain Lennox, Margaret happily returns home to the southern village of Helstone.

Margaret has refused an offer of marriage from the captain's brother Henry, an up-and-coming barrister. Her life is turned upside down when her father, the local pastor, leaves the Church of England and the rectory of Helstone as a matter of conscience; his intellectual honesty has made him a dissenter. At the suggestion of Mr. Bell, his old friend from Oxford, he settles with his wife and daughter in Milton-Northern (where Mr. Bell was born and owns property).

The industrial town in Darkshire (a textile-producing region) manufactures cotton and is in the middle of the Industrial Revolution; masters and workers are clashing in the first organised strikes.

Margaret initially finds the bustling, smoky town of Milton harsh and strange, and she is upset by its poverty. Mr. Hale (in reduced financial circumstances) works as a tutor; one of his pupils is the wealthy and influential manufacturer John Thornton, master of Marlborough Mills. From the outset, Margaret and Thornton are at odds with each other; she sees him as coarse and unfeeling, and he sees her as haughty. He is attracted to her beauty and self-assurance, however, and she begins to admire how he has risen from poverty. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نخست ماه آگوست سال2017میلادی

عنوان: شمال و جنوب؛ نویسنده: الیزابت گاسکل؛ مترجم: سارا خزاعی؛ مشهد، گل آفتاب، سال1394؛ در636ص؛ شابک9786007171097، موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده19م

داستان دختر جوانی به نام «مارگارت» است؛ که به همراه خانواده ی خویش از زندگی سنتی و آرام «جنوب انگلستان»، به نواحی صنعتی و پر جنب و جوش شمال کوچ میکند؛ او نسبت به ارزشهای مدرن، و مادی شمال، دیدگاهی بسیار منتقدانه دارد

نگارنده ی داستان خانم «گاسکل»، با زبردستی و استادی، احساسات و حالات درونی افراد گوناگون، به ویژه ادراک «مارگارت» را، با واژه های برگزین شده ی خویش، به تصویر میکشند، اطلاعات جالبی درباره «مذهب»، «طبقات اجتماعی»، «انقلاب صنعتی»، و «جایگاه زنان در انگلستان سده ی نوزده میلادی»، به خوانشگر ارائه میکنند، و در عین حال داستان عاشقانه ی بسیار لطیف و دلنشینی، در تار و پود داستان خویش میگنجانند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 01/03/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for María.
144 reviews3,094 followers
July 30, 2017
Cualquiera que ansíe vivir la Revolución Industrial desde todos los puntos de vista, NECESITA este libro.
Profile Image for Melindam.
666 reviews294 followers
March 8, 2023
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 :)
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,162 reviews1,261 followers
March 27, 2012
Caution: Spoilers and Snark abound!

I’m afraid this review will not be popular with fans of the author, or those who see classic literature as unassailable. But after slogging through this book (especially so soon after discovering Villette, a truly excellent classic!), I feel obliged to warn potential readers, and let those who were disappointed with the book but wary about criticizing a classic know that they aren’t alone.

So, then: a recipe for North and South:

- Add one romantic plotline borrowed straight from Pride and Prejudice, only the leads’ arguments are about labor relations. Also, after the disastrous proposal scene, don't let him write a letter and so keep the relationship on hold until the last two pages. (These reviews lay out many more similarities between the two books that I have not repeated here.)

- Add some poor families/dying children borrowed straight from Dickens, only keep the deaths off-page.

- Add at least 6 character deaths, almost all off-page. The deaths and subsequent grieving can substitute for a plot throughout the second half of the book.

- Add 1 Mary Sue, otherwise known as Margaret Hale. Everybody must worship Margaret. Include sentences such as “Martha, like all who came in contact with Margaret.... felt it a pleasure and an honour to forward any of her wishes.” Ensure that even Lady Catherine.... sorry, Mrs. Thornton.... is melted by her lovely eyes and straightforward demeanor. Have characters berate each other for not singing her praises enthusiastically enough, then report the incident to Margaret with concern. (I am not making this up!) Also, describe her constantly. Like when she meets the leading man for the first time. Don’t describe him, describe her! Again!

- Add many interior monologues by the leading man detailing his feelings for Margaret. Think you have enough? Try doubling that. We want to know EXACTLY how in love with her he is.

- Add a handful of goofy, melodramatic scenes and startling coincidences. (I shudder when I think of that riot scene....) While these may threaten any feelings of authenticity the plot may have had, at least they'll keep it moving when you run out of deaths.

- Add 4 cups of tedium. Mix well.

- If you are Penguin Classics: sprinkle useless, spoiler-laden endnotes (such as, after Margaret shares her views of a subject in Chapter 1, “Margaret painfully revises her view of X after the deaths of A and B”) throughout. This is super easy to do because all you have to do is find really obvious points in the text and spell them out.

Voila! North and South.

In all fairness, and the reason I at least give 2 stars: there is some decent characterization here, particularly of the minor characters. There are some passages that make me think the author might have turned this into a decent social satire a la Jane Austen. And I’m willing to admit that the book might have been ahead of its time on some issues, like workers’ rights, although the bookjacket gave the impression there would be more of a social justice ethos, when it seemed to me just repackaged Dickens (who was its publisher) plus a strike. But was it ever a slog to get through! There just was not much tension in this book; even the romance wasn’t interesting until the last two pages, and by then it was too late.

So: apologies to any who loved this book and were offended by my irreverent treatment, etc. As for me, I’ll just read more Jane Austen. Or better yet, Charlotte Brontë.
Profile Image for Duchess Nicole.
1,258 reviews1,547 followers
February 18, 2013
"And yet, yo see, North and South has both met and made kind o' friend in this big smoky place."
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I almost feel like a fraud reviewing books like this. I know that there are probably many details that I miss entirely, some nuances that go straight over my head, but these are my thoughts...however scattered they are.

Margaret Hale's father has been the spiritual leader of his community of Helston for decades. Now he questions his faith...not necessarily his belief in God, but maybe the infallible constancy that ministers should have. While Margaret herself has been living among high society with her aunt for the last years, when her father decides to leave the church and uproot his family, she moves with her mother and father to the Northern city of Milton.

"Her keen enjoyment of every sensuous pleasure, was balanced finely, if not overbalanced, by her conscious pride in being able to do without them all, if need were."

Milton is an industrious city full of factories and rich tradesmen and merchants. But there are also the poor, the underfed, the "little guys" who work in those factories day after day just to make enough to feed their families. Margaret's first impression of Milton is not a good one, and her prejudice about her new home town is made known to any who will listen.

And while there were time that Margaret's prejudice really grated my nerves, she grows so much as a person during the course of this story that it's next to impossible not to empathize with her. Both of her parents seem to be weak in character, leaning so heavily on their daughter and giving her so much emotional responsibility as to question who the parents are. What did they do while she was away from them? By the end of the book...poor Margaret!!

"I have passed out of childhood into old age. I have had no youth - no womanhood; the hopes of womanhood have closed for me - for I shall never marry; and I anticipate cares and sorrows just as if I were an old woman, and with the same fearful spirit. I am weary of this continual call upon me for strength."

Mr. Hale has taken up tutoring those who wish to learn. One of his student is John Thornton, who happens to be one of the richer men in Milton.
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He and Margaret definitely do not hit it off on their first meeting. These are two very strong personalities, people with rigid convictions who aren't afraid of speaking their mind...and they often do.

Still, Thornton has a fascination with the outspoken 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 up on her with an admiration he could not repress, she looked at him with proud indifference, taking him, he though, for what, his irritation, he told himself he was - a great, rough fellow, with not a grace or a refinement about him. Her quiet coldness of demeanor he interpreted into contemptuousness, and resented it in his heart to the pitch of almost inclining him to get up and go away, and have nothing more to do with these Hales, and their superciliousness."
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Despite her disapproval of everything he is and does, he is continually drawn back to her; due to circumstance or compulsion, he always comes back. Margaret also wages a subtle battle with herself in regard to her feelings for Thornton...though she hides it extremely well. This was a frustrating aspect of the book for me. Thornton is a very kind man. He reveals his difficult childhood to Margaret, he becomes a very good friend of her father's, and shows the Hales every courtesy he can, despite their fairly low status in society. And yet Margaret takes her sweet time coming to terms with the fact that he's a very good person.

"Their intercourse had been one continued series of opposition..."

While this slow moving romance develops, the meat of the story is the industrial revolution taking place in towns like Milton. Factories needed workers, and often those workers were treated no better than animals. The threat of a strike is ever present. And a strike in those days, when no work meant no food, was much more violent than what it means today. Deplorable, dangerous, and inhumane working conditions led to chronic illness and death for many of the employees.

One such family portrayed in this book is the Higgins family. Nicholas, the father, and Bess and Mary, his daughters, are a huge part of the story. Not only are they fast friends of Margaret's, but Bess has some sort of sickness of the lungs from which she is dying. Her friendship with Margaret and her faith in God when every one around her is faithless is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once.

Tragedy is ever present in this novel. Death comes to everyone, but it seemed to come an awful lot for the people in Margaret's life during the two plus years that she is in Milton.

"And that was death! It looked more peaceful than life..."
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So while this is definitely not an uplifting romance, it's definitely a story about friendship. Relationships can be formed with people from all walks of life, and it's those relationships that shape who you are. Margaret starts off resigned to her fate, living in this dirty, loud city with these boisterous, rude people. Her character development is by leaps and bounds and huge revelations.

"Oh! had any one such just cause to feel contempt for her? Mr. Thornton, above all people, on whom she had looked down from her imaginary heights till now! She suddenly found herself at his feet, and was strangely distressed at her fall."

Though the end is quite abrupt...it really needed more. After this epic journey of self discovery, to end a book in the middle of one of the most powerful scenes was a bit of a downer. And here's where I can tout the miniseries from which all of the pictures in this review came from. Rarely do I like a movie more than the book that it is about, but I sure did in this case! I'm glad that I read the book first, for sure. But the movie clarified some of my questions and romanticized the story enough for me to relate to it a bit more.

Buddy read with Blacky, Karen, Tea, Cathy, and Amaryllis...Muah!!!
This ebook is FREE!!! It's considered a public domain book, so you can download it at Project Gutenberg here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4276 in many different formats, and share away!
Profile Image for Beata.
756 reviews1,159 followers
September 7, 2018
At last!! That man and that woman understood they are meant for each other!! This novel is a real gem among the classics. I was only a little acquainted with Mrs Gaskell having read just Wives and Daughters and, I admit, it was a foolish mistake of mine to put off starting on another novel. Margaret and Mr Thornton are beautifully strong characters and they won my heart immediately. The social background, the clash between the rural and urban worlds, was most fascinating for me. Mrs Gaskell was a sharp observer of the changes that were under way in the mid 1850s. Special thanks to my GR friends who encouraged me to read North and South :)
Profile Image for Dawn.
116 reviews30 followers
February 18, 2008
I read this because I'd seen the BBC production, and wondered if Margaret Hale would be less silly in the book. North and South sounds like it should be about social and geographic divisions, but it's actually about finding balance amidst constant change. Although I found her character annoyingly reactive, the Miss Hale of the novel is decidedly less silly than she of the movie.

I've read comparisons of Mr. Thornton to Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, but I don't personally see much likeness--aside from a tendency to scowl. I actually preferred the BBC's Mr. Thornton, as he talked less and scowled more than Mr. Thornton in the book. Plus, he was played by Richard Armitage, which is never a bad thing.

My favorite characters are Mrs. Thornton (Mr. Thornton's strict, severe mother), and Mr. Bell (Miss Hale's rich godfather). Mrs. Thornton has more sense and self-control than all the other characters in the book combined, and Mr. Bell is the only person with a sense of humor.

Regardless of Miss Hale's silliness, I really enjoyed North and South. Miss Hale bounces back admirably from all the deaths and strife that the author inflicts on her. I would have appreciated more of Mr. Bell's levity, and a tad less angst from Mr. Thornton, but I was completely immersed in Miss Hale's world and find myself missing it now that I've finished the book.
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
1,016 reviews540 followers
June 1, 2019
Creo que puedo afirmar que este libro es una excepción en toda regla. Es decir, por norma, siempre prefiero el libro a la película y, aquí, me inclino más por lo segundo. De todas formas, me ha encantado adentrarme en sus páginas, descubrir la pluma de esta autora y, ser partícipe como lector, de esta maravillosa historia.
Profile Image for Giorgia Reads.
1,018 reviews2,086 followers
March 24, 2021
3.5 stars

As far as English classics go, this is one which I would maybe re-read in a few years.

I’m not sure how to review it because it has all been said before but I think a comparison with Austen and the Brontes would help since most people have at least read one book by those mentioned above. So on that note, I’d say that I didn’t like the writing quite as much as I enjoy the other classics writers I mentioned but that’s just personal preference.

I think the writing was good and catchy and easy to follow (I always tend to mention that when I review a classic because let’s be honest, some of them are just a bag of big, fancy words with which to beat around the bush of a subject for pages and pages)

The story itself and the plot were also captivating and they kept me wanting to turn the page or keep listening (I alternated between reading and listening to the audiobook). I liked that there were some very real and important issues discussed and the blossoming romantic relationship was intrinsically linked to those social, moral and capitalistic issues.

The things that I didn’t like that much:

- The very Pride and Prejudice vibe I got from the Margaret vs Mr. Thornton. (with the distinction that I actually loved Lizzy and Mr Darcy whereas here Margaret just got on my nerves)

- As I said, I didn’t really care for the heroine, Margaret. She was a bit of a know it all (although she didn’t have that much life experience and she was quite young). She tended to always have strong, unyielding opinions. (which I usually applaud, but what I applaud more is willingness to bend ones overly righteous attitude and perhaps learn and grow that way). That’s not to say that she didn’t do some of that, but it was still very much in a stubborn, I know best or I will know best kind of way. She was very critical of everything (although it was very low key - basically passive aggressive) and I just couldn’t freaking stand her. 🤷‍♀️

I truly loved the hero and the way he was portrayed and gosh I rarely say this but, even though they were a good match because they complimented each other’s strengths and weaknesses, (he was too practical and she was overly righteous which often lead her to rash and wrong assumptions about people and situations - she had to learn there’s shades of grey and how to be okay with compromise) her overall aloofness and ignorance often grated on me and I thought that he deserved better. I mean, his character wasn’t perfect, but he was the kind of flawed that I liked.

That about sums up the more personal observations I had to make about this book. In regards to the rest - such as how the book portrayed the differences between the North and the South in terms of economy, culture, social customs and so on, I don’t know much about that particular time in history (I only know the basics about the Industrial Revolution and it really wasn’t something I wanted to read a lot about) so I can’t really comment but I was moved to almost tears in many instances because Gaskell knew how to pull at the heartstrings with her words.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,256 followers
June 20, 2014
Where Austen leaves off, Gaskell picks up.

There is a great similarity in the style of these two 19th century writers. Both wield language with elegance and strength. Call it muscle-bound eloquence!

Gaskell was born during the time in which Austen set most of her books...well round about then anyway. It's hard to tell exactly when most Austen novels are set, but generally they're meant to be prior to or during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). Gaskell was born in 1810.

However, Gaskell's writing is solidly Victorian. Like Dickens, her eyes were open to the horrendous condition of the lower classes. She doesn't have Dickens' sense of fun, and that's probably for the best. Charlie could get a might bit silly at times. Gaskell has a sense of fun, but it's less slap-sticky and not so over-the-top in general. Ironically, that could go to speak on why she's not more widely read today. This, her most popular novel, tends towards the depressing.

Margaret Hale, our steady heroine in North and South, is the daughter of a wavering priest who uproots the family and moves them, sick wife and all, to a sooty northern factory town. Once there, Margaret's heart goes out to the workers, as she is appalled by what she sees. She also misunderstands the motives and intentions of one of the factory owners, John Thornton, the main employer in town and soon a family friend and would-be suitor to Margaret.

How can Margaret resolve herself to like Mr. Thornton in the face of all the injustice she perceives? Read to find out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Rating: This is a very strong 4 stars indeed. Perhaps even 4.5
January 26, 2020

Norte y sur tiene como protagonista a Margaret de 19 años, hija única de un reverendo, viven en Hellstone un pueblo al sur de Inglaterra, una localidad muy tranquila, su economía es principalmente agrícola, todo como muy idílico. El caso es que su padre tras una crisis de fe, se ven forzados a mudarse, al abandonar la iglesia anglicana no pueden seguir ocupando la casa y el padre cree que el mejor lugar para poder encontrar un trabajo como profesor es ir al norte de Inglaterra concretamente a Milton, una ciudad industrial del norte del país, llena de fábricas, bulliciosa y sucia. El contraste entre lo que ella ha vivido toda su vida y lo que tiene que vivir en esta nueva ciudad es brutal.
En Milton, Margaret va a conocer a tres personajes fundamentales sobre la que gira la historia que son Mr Thornton, alumno de su padre, patrono de una fábrica textil.
Bessy empleada de una fábrica y a su padre el Sr. Higgins sindicalista de otra fábrica también textil.
A través de las situaciones y conversaciones de Margaret con estos tres personajes, vamos a ver el tema central de la novela, que no es una novela de amor ¡Ojo! Aquí estamos al comienzo de la revolución industrial, y vamos a ver los tres puntos de vista, el de los trabajadores, con interminables jornadas laborales, el trabajo infantil, los accidentes mortales. Los sindicatos, provocan huelgas, aprietan al patrón para conseguir unos derechos laborales muy merecidos. Los patronos, encarnado en el personajes del Sr. Thornton, un patrono atípico para la época, noble, hecho a sí mismo.
La escritora plasma esta situación de una manera magistral, ella no se posiciona, la protagonista ve la situación laboral de cada personaje, y es lo que percibe el lector, tres puntos de vista, sin justificar ninguna acción de cada personaje.
Obviamente hay una historia de amor, pero es muy sutil, delicada y escondida.
Se me ha quedado corto el final, le falta desarrollo, algo que explica la autora en un prefacio, pero es maravilloso!!!
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