Reading the Classics discussion

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Past Group Reads > North and South - Chapters 1-2

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message 1: by Simon (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 108 comments This is another thread for early impressions until the end of chapter 2, where nothing much to spoil happens, so if possible let's keep it to this part of the plot.


message 2: by Simon (last edited Mar 02, 2016 01:45AM) (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 108 comments Did anyone else find identifying the characters a bit confusing at times? I was often wondering, is Frederick Hale the same as Mr. Hale? Who are the parents of Margaret? Oh, so Henry Lennox is not the same as Captain Lennox?

So, am i not reading precisely enough, or could Gaskell have made it easier to identify the characters?
There's also a scene between Margaret and Henry where it's hard to follow who's speaking what.

Here's what i put together regarding the characters. correct me if i'm wrong:
Mrs. Shaw - Margaret's aunt, Edith's mother
Mr. Shaw, general, away/deceased
Mrs. Hale - Margaret's mother, Mrs. Shaw's sister
Mr. Hale - preacher
Frederick Hale - his son (Margaret's brother), (was) in the navy
Captain Lennox - Edith's fiancé
Henry Lennox - Captain Lennox' brother and bridegroom

Other than that i've found this easy and quick to read, and quite enjoyable so far.


message 3: by Bill (new)

Bill Kupersmith | 125 comments Mrs Gaskell's Victorian readers would have picked up the characters' status immediately. Captain Lennox & Mr Henry Lennox are elder & younger bros - a captain would never be a mister (tho a lieutenant might be - it's complicated.). The Christian name Henry shows he's the younger. (To a Victorian, I'm 'Mr Kupersmith' & my younger bros 'Mr John Kupersmith' & 'Mr Peter Kupersmith'.) Mr Hale is the father & head of the family. He is not just a 'preacher' - he is a beneficed clergyman in the Church of England & thus however poor a 'gentleman' & socially superior to coachmaker, however wealthy, hence Mrs Hale's encouraging her daughter's seeking a connection with a family 'in trade' indicates a preference for money over gentility. As a barrister, Henry is also a 'gentleman', however poor. Were he a solicitor- however rich - he would not be. To an upper class Victorian, the family solicitors had about the same status as their butlers.


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Oleksiw | 119 comments I had little trouble recognizing the characters and keeping them straight, perhaps because there's less dialogue and a closer adherence to a single point of view. Edith and Margaret are certainly a strong contrast, but their mothers less so. Mrs. Shaw seems a type familiar even today--not happy unless she has something to complain about. The mystery about Margaret's younger brother, Frederick, is interesting, and her moody father promises something interesting also. I'm enjoying this read very much.


message 5: by Simon (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 108 comments Interesting, thanks for the explanation, Bill! I was guessing that the way the characters were called had some meaning, but i didn't know the conventions of the time. That indeed makes it easier to distinguish the characters.


message 6: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 28 comments The rise of industry and capitalism greatly disrupts the age-old evaluations of class and status. Knowing who would be considered a gentleman in the old order is important.
Mrs Hale's encouraging remark towards making a match with a tradesman -- for money instead of class -- probably stems from her personal disappointment in marrying a rural vicar with no ambition. She hopes her daughter will at least have money.
Money vs class status is an integral issue throughout the novel.
We are meant to pay close attention to Margaret's choices and her evolving values and ideals. Henry looks like a very good 'catch' for her position as the poor gentleman's daughter.


message 7: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments I'm feeling it reads very much like a Jane Austen novel thus far. I'm curious as the story progresses if that sentiment changes. It's about that time period though, so I imagine the writing styles might be very similar.


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 219 comments Forty people voted for this book. Where are they all?


message 9: by Simon (last edited Mar 24, 2016 04:55AM) (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 108 comments Good question. Maybe some did indeed vote for the american North and South, not Gaskell's. Or maybe they didn't really get into the book.
I think next month with Crime and Punishment we won't have to worry for participation (if it wins).


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan Oleksiw | 119 comments I've been commenting on the other site (full read, spoilers). I'm not very far into the book, but well past chapters 1 and 2.


message 11: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments I don't have the physical copy in front of me in order to suggest a possible breakdown (I'm listening to the audio, which is fantastic!) but if it ever comes in at the library, I'll make suggestions! I checked SparkNotes, but they don't have this one (sometimes I just them just to get reasonable chapter breakdowns).

That said, I'm up to chapter I think 28, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it! The beginning is like an Austen novel, but it's much better developed and getting into some great ethical and political questions that I'm very much enjoying watching play out.

I don't think this is a spoiler, since it's an ongoing plot issue, but relating to the strike situation: (view spoiler)


message 12: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 219 comments Your spoiler is a great question, but should perhaps not be responded to until we get to those chapters.


message 13: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments I'm not sure where to post the question, I was afraid to read further - on spoilers in the full book discussion :(


message 14: by Simon (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 108 comments Which chapter are you at? I can make another thread for you. Actually, can't you also open a thread in the Group Read folder?
I could also open a thread just for this issue.


message 15: by Susan (new)

Susan Oleksiw | 119 comments I just finished Chapter 12, where Mrs. Thornton, at her son's request, has visited the Hale family. Each woman is different, and has a distinct "take" on the others and the layers of society. At first I think I'm reading the perceptions of distinct characters, but then they fall into the stereotypes of their time. Still, I've come to like Mr. Hale more, as well as Mr. Thornton, but I'm not yet sure about Margaret. I'm enjoying watching her grow.


message 16: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments I'll just post some threads ten chapters at a time and see how that works for us. I like to try to even out page count, but I can't see the book, so I'm not eve sure how many chapters it has.

I'm quite enjoying this book, I must say! So many layers!


message 17: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 627 comments I'm re-posting my spoiler question in another thread, I'm looking forward to your thoughts!


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