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Mary Barton
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Mary Barton group read > Chapters 27 - the end

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Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
For discussion from chapter 27 to the end.

We'll just put all the remaining chapters in one last thread.

What did you think of all that Mary went through to try to save Jem when she arrived in Liverpool? Did you like the way Gaskell wrote the trial?

How does the drama in Mary Barton compare with the dramatic events in N&S? Can you see this story becoming a mini-series?

Was ending what you expected? Do you like they way things were resolved?

Although I like the way Mr Carson has a change of heart, the moral/religious lesson verges on preaching and the events between John Barton and Mr. Carson seem melodramatic. I enjoy the more subtle allusions to religion and morality that N&S contains.

Don't you wish Gaskell had written something of a similar happily-ever-after chapter in N&S for John and Margaret?


Nicole Clarkston | 5 comments One of the things that struck me as strange is the stupor Mary fell into after Jem's acquittal. WHAT??? Will shows up finally and she faints and is delirious for days? Is this a Victorian sensibility, or do people really do this? I get the author's desire to create some tension for Jem, but it just seemed strange to me.

Alice's death was beautiful, awkward as it seems to say. I loved the description of a "trail of glory;" evidence of a life well lived, even though the mind was by then simple and frail. Gorgeous, and a fitting tribute to a stalwart character.

I still have 2 chapters left, but the confession of John Barton and forgiveness of Mr Carson were interesting. Lovely and profound, but yes, a tad preachy. By now I'm pretty used to Gaskell's wordiness, so it didn't really seem too out of place, but like you, Trudy, I do have to say I prefer the more subtle heart lurking beneath N&S. It really shows how she grew as an author, that she was able to develop the same concepts without using a club over the reader's head.

Overall, just an incredible, powerful novel. I listened to a Librivox recording done by Tony Foster, a Manchester resident. The richness of his inflections really brought the book and the characters to life for me, and I am so glad to have been able to listen. You can find that version here for free: https://librivox.org/mary-barton-a-ta...


Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
I was also a little disappointed in Mary's state of delirium the first time I read the book. This time around, I tried to make mental note of the hardships she endured leading up to this breakdown. And although I still would attribute some of this drama to the Victorian beliefs about women, I think there is a fairly good case to be made for Mary's condition. She has been eating little for days if not weeks before the dramatic events happen; she has every emotional contingency conceivable riding on the outcome of this trial since it involves the possible death of her lover or her father; she doesn't sleep for nearly 48 hours before the trial; she physically exhausts herself in trying to ensure that Will comes to testify.
How many of us would be able to endure all this without some kind of eventual breakdown?
I love Alice. Her dying is a merciful process.
And, yes, I find the ending just a tad preachy. I really enjoy the way Gaskell is able to communicate moral themes more subtly in her later works.
I love the insights into the working class lives in this book. It adds great depth to the perspective of Thornton's "Milton."
I'm glad you enjoyed the Librivox recording. Thanks for sharing the link!


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