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Archived Group Reads 2020 > North and South: Week 6: Chapters XLIV–LII

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message 1: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
In this final segment, misunderstandings are resolved, master and workman begin to understand each other a little better, and Margaret and Mr Thornton finally have a happy ending, but not before some final bits of tragedy in Mr Bell’s death and Mr Thornton’s losses which nearly force him out of business.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Places:
This week we return to the places we had started out with in this book—London—Harley street, specifically and Helstone, Margaret’s old home. We are also briefly in Milton too, where it is Nicholas who resolves the misunderstanding over the incidents at the station, only worsened last week, though unwittingly, by Mr Bell.

London: Margaret is settling back into life in Harley street with Edith and her family where Edith is trying to play matchmaker (with Henry Lennox perhaps) but also wants Margaret (somewhat in the same mode as Tristram pointed out last week) even if married to stay in her own circle, and always be around with her and her child. Edith does of course try to cheer her up, organizing dinner parties and such, which are delightful, yet Margaret remains dissatisfied. Henry Lennox is part of this world, and his tongue is as sharp as ever—perhaps more so than before. At Harley street is also organized a dinner party where Mr Thornton’s opinions are much valued. And of course, it is in the drawing room at Harley street that Margaret and Mr Thornton finally reconcile.

Helstone: Mr Bell arrives to visit Margaret, and suggests she accompany him on a visit to Helstone. Here old acquaintances are shocked to find that Mr Hale has also passed on—Margaret finds much change, especially in the old parsonage, so different from when her family lived there, yet is pleased to have visited. We also see that Mr Thornton has visited Helstone as well—and most likely he was the gentleman who had told Mrs Purkis at the inn about Mrs Hale’s passing.

Milton: Things are changing at Milton; Not only has Nicholas come to work for Mr Thornton, they also converse as men (not ‘Master’ and ‘workman’); Mr Thornton has also introduced some reforms like a dining space for the workmen, where it seems Mary Higgins is now working; in one of Mr Thornton’s conversations with Nicholas, Frederick’s matter is brought up by the latter and finally Mr Thornton finds out that it was her brother who was with her that evening. Of course, it is also at Milton that Mr Thornton faces business losses and is brought on the brink of giving it up.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
People:
Margaret: As we begin, Margaret resumes life at Harley street where she has been brought up but is dissatisfied; She continues to be plagued by the misunderstanding with Mr Thornton and finally tells all to Mr Bell, who agrees to intervene but passes away before he can do so; Margaret thus finds herself an heiress and also Mr Thornton’s landlady, and finally in a position to help him when he faces business problems; she has a happy ending in store for her for after Nicholas resolves things, she gets to meet Mr Thornton again in Harley street, where he also shows himself to some advantage.

Mr Thornton: He tries to make some changes in his factory and do better by the workers but business difficulties worsen and he is finally on the brink of giving it all up; luckily Margaret by this time has the money to help him and extends a hand; and so he finds himself with a happy ending as well, the woman he loves finally accepts him, and he will also be able to bring his business back on its feet.

Mr Bell: Mr Bell has provided for Margaret financially so that she is not beholden to the Lennoxes for anything; he also takes her down to Helstone with him and that visit gives her some closure. He lends a kind ear to her difficulties with Mr Thornton, and is even planning (or so we hear) to take her to Spain to visit with Frederick but he dies before any of this can happen.

Nicholas: Nicholas finds himself with a better boss, one who has begun to treat him as a friend, and perhaps even to listen to his advice, so we know that he and the Boucher children who he has taken under his wing will be fine. He also ends up being the one who unwittingly resolves the misunderstanding between Margaret and Mr Thornton, by bringing up Frederick’s matter.

Edith: Edith tries playing matchmaker in this segment while Margaret is pretty sure she won’t be married; she seems to want Margaret to be happy and gay and yet at the same time available to tend to her whims (and hopes that she marries Henry Lennox).

*Incidentally, was this only me or did Sholto sometimes seem like it referred to Edith’s husband, and at others to her child?


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Events:
Visit to Helstone: Margaret visits Helstone, her old home and haunts with Mr Bell and finds all much changed; but I felt she got some closure from it all. What did we think of the Hepworths, the new occupants of the parsonage?

Fanny’s wedding: We also learn that Fanny Thornton is married with all the lavishness she desired and managed to pull her mother into all the excitement of her plans.

Mr Bell’s Death: Mr Bell too dies; the seventh person to die in this book (including the horrendous Leonards, but did it feel like there was too much tragedy?)

Reconciliation: With misunderstandings resolved between Margaret and Mr Thornton, they finally reconcile in Harley street, and seem set to have their happy ending after many trials. And Henry Lennox realizes any chances he thought he had, are lost!

The End: As Trinn and Piyangie have already mentioned, the ending of the book does some across as a little hurried which it was since it seems Mrs Gaskell was asked to speed up things? Did you feel this impacted the story as a whole: leaving certain things unresolved and taking away the possibilities of further resolution and conversations? Frederick’s case for instance is not resolved, and if Gaskell had plans of weaving in a new clue, or some hope, those seemed to have been dropped as well. Did it leave you feeling a little unsatisfied, may be?

So what did we think of North and South?


Triin | 9 comments I will re-post my earlier post here in the correct thread :)

I finished “North and South” a few days ago. I was a bit disappointed about the quick ending and would have liked to see more of Margaret and Thornton together and happy, being that they were rather miserable throughout most of the book. I enjoyed both sides of the novel, the love story and the discussion of societal problems. I think Mrs Gaskell brought the two together rather skilfully. I also liked her understated humour in Higgins’ speech, in Mr Bell and the depiction of the Shaws.
I felt that for both Margaret and Thornton, the circle closed. Before Margaret left Helstone, she looked out of her bedroom window at the church spire, contemplating how her world had come crashing down, and when she returned to Helstone with Mr Bell, she looked from the inn towards her old bedroom and realized that the whole world was changing. For Mr Thornton, when he refused to speculate with his creditors’ money even when his business was failing, probably referred back to when his father lost all and left their family destitute.
I was wondering about Margaret's plans after Mr Bell’s death. She had been mostly reacting to all the tragedy that befell her and was just gearing up to find a role her herself in society. As a schoolmistress perhaps? After seeing the children at Helstone school.
Frederick's situation remained, disappointingly, unresolved. Henry Lennox came across gradually more and more cynical and calculating.
Can anyone explain what were the references to ‘Teutonic blood’ in Chapter 40, where Mr Thornton described Darkshire people? Some sort of Protestant work ethic? And ‘worshippers of Thor’?
All in all, I have enjoyed this group read immensely. It really makes a huge difference, when you can discuss the book with other people in real time. Thank you! :)


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Piyangie | 791 comments Mod
Lady Clementina wrote: "Incidentally, was this only me or did Sholto sometimes seem like it referred to Edith’s husband, and at others to her child?..."

I was confused about this too. Are they both Sholto, as in Sholto senior and Sholto junior? :)


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Piyangie | 791 comments Mod
The ending made me yearn for more - more of Margaret and John after their initial declaration and acceptance of each other. As you have pointed Lady C, the issue of Frederick was unresolved. Some hope for his finally being acquitted of his charges and a possible reunion between the brother and sister would have been most welcoming. And I would have liked to learn more of Mr. Thornton's position back as a master once he recommences the work of his Marlborough Mill with Margaret's aid.

But I cannot say these absences made me love the book less. I only wished there were more because I loathed to part with the book with such quick ending.


message 8: by Trisha (last edited May 14, 2020 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Trisha | 46 comments Triin wrote: "I will re-post my earlier post here in the correct thread :)

... Can anyone explain what were the references to ‘Teutonic blood’ in Chapter 40, where Mr Thornton described Darkshire people? Some sort of Protestant work ethic? And ‘worshippers of Thor’?...

Triin, others may be able to give a more accurate & detailed answer, but my assumption was that the references were about English people having mixed blood. Some research showed that relatively few people who consider themselves English come from completely English ancestors. A large number of people in parts of the UK are descended partly from Vikings & other invaders in our distant past. This would explain both ‘Teutonic blood’ & ’worshippers of Thor’. For example, in Shetland (part of Scotland) many people are proud to have Viking heritage & have a very traditional annual celebration.


Trisha | 46 comments Lady Clementina - what did I think of the book? I loved it! I had read it once before, but enjoyed it much more this time. It was good to see the discussions & learn more about the book. Thank you.


Nidhi Kumari | 36 comments I loved the book because it presented a different scenario. It is my first book by Mrs. Gaskell. The character development of Margaret and Thornton is what makes books interesting but I too think that the end was abrupt , there should have been more about Edith and her mother, and something about Mrs. Thornton’s acceptance of marriage. But these developments would have made the book of Dickensian proportion lol.😆


Pamela (bibliohound) | 47 comments I really enjoyed this book, although I agree with others that the ending was too abrupt. Not only the declaration of love, but also the end of Henry Lennox's hopes, all sewn up in a couple of pages.

Still it was nice seeing everything come together in the end, and hopefully Mr Thornton will take Margaret to Spain to visit Frederick and Dolores.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Triin wrote: "I will re-post my earlier post here in the correct thread :)

I finished “North and South” a few days ago. I was a bit disappointed about the quick ending and would have liked to see more of Margar..."

Thanks for posting it here Trinn!


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Trisha wrote: "Lady Clementina - what did I think of the book? I loved it! I had read it once before, but enjoyed it much more this time. It was good to see the discussions & learn more about the book. Thank you."

Glad you enjoyed it. I did as well--on my last read, somehow the tragic parts, people dying almost as fast as a murder mystery got to me, but this time, I seemed to get through that better.


message 14: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (last edited May 14, 2020 10:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Incidentally, was this only me or did Sholto sometimes seem like it referred to Edith’s husband, and at others to her child?..."

I was confused about this too. Are they bot..."

Good to hear that--I thought it was only me and reread some bits but my confusion did not clear up-- somewhere she was playing with Sholto, and at another place he was going out to telegraph. I wonder why the editor back then didn't pick this out?


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "I really enjoyed this book, although I agree with others that the ending was too abrupt. Not only the declaration of love, but also the end of Henry Lennox's hopes, all sewn up in a couple of pages..."

The declaration of love was nice, I thought yoo--quite subtle, no unnecessary drama or melodrama.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Nidhi wrote: "I loved the book because it presented a different scenario. It is my first book by Mrs. Gaskell. The character development of Margaret and Thornton is what makes books interesting but I too think t..."

Fair enough, but there were a few loose ends like Frederick's story or perhaps we were meant to accept it in a realistic sense that nothing could really be done in the matter and he would have to live in Cadiz as he was doing.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Triin wrote: "I enjoyed both sides of the novel, the love story and the discussion of societal problems. I think Mrs Gaskell brought the two together rather skilfully...."

I agree Trinn, I think she wove the two threads of the story together very well, and Margaret's role in both (in her personal life of getting over her prejudices), and in the social thread of being the person that listens to and ends up bringing the two sides together were well done also.


message 18: by Tristram (last edited May 16, 2020 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tristram Shandy | 39 comments I finished the novel yesterday and am very glad I am through with it because all in all I found it rather disappointing: In the first half, there were lots of fascinating passages - the opposition between the landowners in the South and the selfmade-men in the North, the struggle between masters and men in the North, and Gaskell also created complex conflicts and characters on a par with those. Nevertheless, the ensuing love story soon took over, and everything else that might have promised to become interesting and fascinating, was fading more and more into the background. Instead, we got a lot of soul-searching of a heroine that was, on the whole, to me rather unlikable, and the question whether it was right or wrong to tell that lie, and what Mr. Thornton would think of it, is nothing to write home about, especially with all those social questions broached. What could have been a novel on a great social canvas became just another love story - and one of people governed by primness and propriety rather than by passion, at that. Sylvia's Lovers by the same author is much more interesting, also in its love story because Sylvia is not such a goody-two-shoes as Margaret.

Apart from that, I found the writing itself quite plodding in that it was slow-paced in places that could have been dealt with in a few sentences whereas interesting things - the strike, the outcome of Frederick's fight for justice, the changing relationship between Thornton and Higgins, for instance - were "sown with a hot needle", as I'd say in German, or maybe you can say, cobbled together. It's one of those novels I was glad to have read - for the sake of completion - but that I'd probably not read again.


message 19: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "I finished the novel yesterday and am very glad I am through with it because all in all I found it rather disappointing: In the first half, there were lots of fascinating passages - the opposition ..."

Sorry you didn't enjoy it so much Tristram.


Tristram Shandy | 39 comments Still, reading it with you gave me a lot of insight.


Trisha | 46 comments Tristram, I like the expression “sewn with a hot needle” - I hadn’t heard that before, but it’s very descriptive.


Lucia | 182 comments I must say I do agree with Tristam. He has brilliantly expressed my own feelings about this novel. Nevertheless, I appreciated your job, Lady Clementina.


Tristram Shandy | 39 comments Lady Clementina,

of course, I also appreciate your job, and I hope you didn't get the wrong end of the stick: It was the book, not the moderating. I am a co-moderator of a Dickens group myself and know how much work goes into moderating a book discussion group, and as I said before, I really liked your way of dealing with each week's chapters - this idea of having different posts for places, characters and events is definitely a help and keeps the mod from simply rehashing what the author has written. I learnt a lot from your way of showing us through the book and I'm happy you took me on for the ride through North and South.

I also hope that my tendency to kick against the pricks from time to time did not spoil anyone's fun with and enjoyment of the novel. I am looking forward to further group reads!


Tristram Shandy | 39 comments Trisha wrote: "Tristram, I like the expression “sewn with a hot needle” - I hadn’t heard that before, but it’s very descriptive."

I don't know if you can say this in English, but I am always fascinated with English idioms. One of my favourite is "to know what side one's bread is buttered on", or "to go on a wild goose chase".


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Kerstin | 589 comments Mod
Trisha wrote: "Tristram, I like the expression “sewn with a hot needle” - I hadn’t heard that before, but it’s very descriptive."

I don't recall ever having heard the expression, and I am German :-)
Now, of course, I want to know the particular situation you sew with a hot needle.


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Kerstin | 589 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "I also hope that my tendency to kick against the pricks from time to time did not spoil anyone's fun with and enjoyment of the novel. I am looking forward to further group reads!"

No worries, Tristram! Your reaction to the novel is heartfelt. It didn't resonate with you as it has with others. That's perfectly fine.


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Cindy Newton | 295 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Instead, we got a lot of soul-searching of a heroine that was, on the whole, to me rather unlikable, and the question whether it was right or wrong to tell that lie, and what Mr. Thornton would think of it, is nothing to write home about, especially with all those social questions broached. What could have been a novel on a great social canvas became just another love story - and one of people governed by primness and propriety rather than by passion, at that ..."

I am so glad to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way! I couldn't believe when I got to the end. I'm on a Kindle, so I kept swiping left, thinking there had to be another page! So much angst over the lie, so many miscommunications and misunderstandings agonized over, and then--poof! It's over.

It does give a nice, inside view of the Industrial Revolution, the different factors at play in the employer/employee interactions, and the changes the unions were ushering in. Like others have said, it would have been nice to get more of that and less soul-searching over having told a lie.

As far as Frederick goes, I think that it was pretty much resolved. Not everything has a happy ending, and I think it had been settled that he was not really ever going to be able to come back to England. I can't see the military (especially in that time period) sanctioning a mutiny, no matter what the reason. I don't know much about military tribunals and whether there is precedent for that, but I would think it would have been a rare occasion that they would excuse a sailor for defying his commander and taking matters into his own hands. I could be wrong!

So I agree with Tristan--it was a nice story and I enjoyed reading it with the group, but ultimately, there was too much unrealized potential. Lady Clementina, you did an excellent job moderating!


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Kerstin | 589 comments Mod
Cindy wrote: " So much angst over the lie"

I didn't see it as the lie per se. Margaret did it to keep her brother safe. The enormity of it overwhelms her. Margaret has a very keen sense of right and wrong, of justice and injustice. With Frederick we have such a tangled affair, that it is really hard to find where the moral compass points. The family is suffering under this painful and forced separation and there is no way out. I think this is the first time Margaret gets personally confronted with an unsolvable problem beyond her reach, and she is no longer just a spectator but a participant, and there is a real cost to pay. It is one of the harder lessons of her young life. At the end of chapter 48 she resolves that "in the presence of God, she prayed that she might have the strength to speak and act the truth for evermore."


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Lucia wrote: "I must say I do agree with Tristam. He has brilliantly expressed my own feelings about this novel. Nevertheless, I appreciated your job, Lady Clementina."
Thanks Lucia!


message 30: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (last edited May 17, 2020 10:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Lady Clementina,

of course, I also appreciate your job, and I hope you didn't get the wrong end of the stick: It was the book, not the moderating. I am a co-moderator of a Dickens group myself and..."


I understand completely, and no I didn't thing of your comment otherwise--part of the point of discussing books is to bring in different views, both of people who like it and those who don't!


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Kerstin wrote: "Cindy wrote: " Margaret has a very keen sense of right and wrong, of justice and injustice. ..."

True... and the fact that this is the first time she's told a 'lie' of this sort, and in a case where a man has died whether or not it was Frederick's fault I think adds to the weight of the thing for her.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Cindy wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Instead, we got a lot of soul-searching of a heroine that was, on the whole, to me rather unlikable, and the question whether it was right or wrong to tell that lie, and what Mr. T..."

Here something Piyangie shared last week:My Harper-Collins edition, however, has this account: "On its appearance in 'Household Words,' this tale was obliged to the conditions imposed by the requirements of weekly publication, and likewise to confine itself within certain advertised limits, in order that faith might be kept with the public. Although these conditions were made as light as they well could be, the author found it impossible to develop the story in the manner originally intended, and more especially, was compelled to hurry on events with an improbable rapidity towards the close..."

I did read elsewhere also that Dickens wanted her to hurry it up, and so she did.


message 33: by Kerstin, Moderator (last edited May 17, 2020 10:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kerstin | 589 comments Mod
On this second reading of North and South what stood out for me this time is that this novel is deeply Christian in nature like so many novels of the Victorian era. From beginning to end North and South is an exploration of the corporal works of mercy in light of the Industrial Revolution. The primary text for the corporal works of mercy is found in the Gospel of Matthew 25: 31 – 45, where Jesus summarizes how we are to treat our fellow men. The core of the message are verses 34 – 36, 40
Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.’ … And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.’ (RSV-CE)

Wherever Margaret Hale is or goes, she brings out the humanity in people with lasting change. We see these changes in Mr. Thornton, Higgins, Bessy, the taking care of the Boucher children, etc. These transformative actions are not one-sided, they are reciprocal, naturally occurring within human interaction, and they change her too.

"...the cloud never comes in that quarter of the horizon from which we watch for it." These clouds of change are foreshadowed at her aunt's in London and are ripe with Christian symbolism: the draping of the shawls. What looks like an innocent parlor amusement is so much more. When a woman is veiled she is set apart. The veiled bride undergoes the transformation from maiden to wife to (hopefully) mother. New life always begins hidden from view. Margaret is not yet a bride. She wears a black gown evocative of a religious habit, of dying to self to later reemerge as a new creation. The action in the London parlor is interrupted by the arrival of Captain Lennox, and Margaret, still standing there draped in shawls, is instantly forgotten by those present. Her separation from her old life has begun.
Margaret doesn’t consciously choose this, but as the events unfold over the next three years her innate sense of motherly nurturing, an aptitude particularly pronounced in her, will come to the forefront and touches everyone she lives with and comes in contact with. To her, her service to others comes naturally, we don’t get any indication that she resents it. It is who she is. Guided by her strong faith Margaret sees in others the human person first, who they are, what their joys and sorrows are, what their needs are, which guides her interaction with them. She is a good listener and keen observer. Her first encounter with Bessy is a good example. On the surface it looks like an incidental encounter. She gives Bessy, a total stranger who is obviously ill, the bouquet of flowers she had picked for herself. Intuitively she knows Bessy is in greater need of these flowers than she is. By doing so they pass the threshold from complete strangers to people who know each other’s names. A human connection has begun, a friendship will form that will elevate and give dignity to Bessy's last days. She is no longer a nameless victim of a hazardous workplace, with Margaret's presence and voice Bessy's suffering has meaning.

In more general Christian terms, I find Mr. Bell's role rather interesting. He isn't just a character that jumps in and out of action, but is the great benefactor of the novel. He is a Christ-like figure. He is mostly in the background and only steps forward when his presence is needed. He is Mr. Hale’s tutor and the godfather of his children. When Mr. Hale changes course in his professional life, Mr. Bell is there to help facilitate it, to find a place where Mr. Hale can find a new footing and provide for his family.
Mr. Bell is also present in the life of Mr. Thornton as a landlord and guide in bringing the two families together. He steps in as father-figure to Margaret after Mr. Hale’s death, and then leaves his legacy to her so she and Mr. Thornton have a future to build on.

One could go chapter by chapter and pluck out much more in this direction.


Bharathi (bharathi14) | 158 comments There are two central themes in most of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels. One is the difference between the lives of the wealthy and the poor. The other is the limitations of women (even wealthy ones) in society. In "North and South" she weaves in a third theme, that of the differences in the society of the north and south of England. Having lived in both and having met several luminaries of her time she is well placed to do this. I think she has done a very nice job of showing us those differences. By writing this novel as a romance she is able to give us a female perspective of the ills of society, and their ideas of changing them.
Working within the confines of propriety in the Victorian age, Margaret Hale has, if not stretched the boundaries of what is acceptable, definitely touched its outer limits. It is definitely one of my favorite Victorian novels.


message 35: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Bharathi wrote: "There are two central themes in most of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels. One is the difference between the lives of the wealthy and the poor. The other is the limitations of women (even wealthy ones) in..."

Same here Bharati--One of my favourites too despite its flaws (for me mainly, the abrupt ending). I like Margaret's role, both in the fact that she manages to overcome her own prejudices and that she acts as intermediary getting two sides to understand each other--millowner and workman, and even North and South (Higgins).


message 36: by Michaela (last edited May 23, 2020 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michaela | 192 comments I struggled a bit with the last chapters, and - though it was a re-read and I knew the contents - I had wished for a more elaborate end, knowing the BBC series. :) According to the notes Charles Dickens is to blame for the rushed end, but Elizabeth Gaskell herself said that once the barriers had fallen, there wasn´t much to say. Everything else is left to fanfiction. :)

Thanks Lady Clementina for the extraordinary job you did with leading this discussion! It was a pleasure for me to re-read it! :)


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Michaela wrote: "I struggled a bit with the last chapters, and - though it was a re-read and I knew the contents - I had wished for a more elaborate end, knowing the BBC series. :) According to the notes [author:Ch..."

:)

I remembered reading about Dickens rushing her, but can't recall where I read it.


message 38: by Kerstin, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kerstin | 589 comments Mod
Lady Clementina wrote: "I remembered reading about Dickens rushing her, but can't recall where I read it."

This is also mentioned in the In Our Time podcast, and they added an interesting wrinkle. When the novel was later published in book form Gaskell had the opportunity to make changes, and she chose not to.


message 39: by Robin (last edited May 22, 2020 04:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin | 162 comments I enjoyed the ending - I loved the comments Margaret and John made in relation to Aunt Shaw and Mrs Thorpe. In just these two passages, Gaskell shows that they have a similar sense of humour, not only about their own position, but probably about the world in general. They have passed through various trials and come out smiling, and companions. This reflects companionship between Margaret and Frederick, so different from the rocky relationship between the Thorpe siblings. Gaskell was quite daring in making Margaret an heiress - and John prepared to benefit from her wealth. He is a practical person, knows he loves her and they will be happy together so there is no need for posturing. Posturing and duplicity have been a theme throughout the novel, so it shows a departure from the past when Margaret and John are drawn so simply in the end.

I found the depiction of Mr Bell rather pleasing after his comments to Mr Hale about Margaret looking after the two of them in their old age. In contrast, in these chapters he seems sensitive and caring towards her - perhaps the only mature adult in her life who demonstrates these feelings toward her. He is demanding nothing from her!

I wonder if Frederick's home in Spain, and the possibility that Margaret can visit him, is another clue to the widening of her horizons? Her return to her home at the parsonage is shown to be , even in her eyes, a romantic past, which is adequately compensated for by the roses John has collected.

I enjoyed rereading North and South, particularly with the wonderful introductions and explanations of each section, Lady Clementina. Thank you also everyone for the discussions. A really worthwhile read and debate.


Christine Covil | 13 comments I really enjoyed North and South, the situation with Frederick not being resolved was at first rather frustrating but, on reflection, there are often things in life that remain unresolved and so this added to the realism and didn't spoil the novel as a whole for me. So much was unpredictable and ill timed that it almost seemed to fit the mould in which the novel was cast. I'm not sure that it's desirable to tie up all ends with the ending of a book as there should be something left to the reader. I had a sense that Margaret would go on to her inheritance wisely and that she might take up business and travel to Spain, the contrast between her and her cousin hinting at the very different life to come for Margaret. I almost wish there was another book taking up Margaret's life hereafter (no doubt someone will write one at some point)


Robin | 162 comments Christine wrote: "I really enjoyed North and South, the situation with Frederick not being resolved was at first rather frustrating but, on reflection, there are often things in life that remain unresolved and so th..."

Your idea about someone writing Margaret's further story is so interesting. There have been additions to other well known novels, and in doing this with North and South we would perhaps see Margaret doing as you suggest in relation to Spain and Frederick. Also, the reactions of the estimable women in their lives would be amusing, showing Margaret and John's compatibility, while the discussion about north and south would demonstrate the difficulties in fully coming to terms with such different approaches to life.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "I enjoyed the ending - I loved the comments Margaret and John made in relation to Aunt Shaw and Mrs Thorpe. In just these two passages, Gaskell shows that they have a similar sense of humour, not o..."

Glad you enjoyed it Robin--I do find the end somewhat abrupt but still, the book remains one of my favourites.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1062 comments Mod
Christine wrote: "I really enjoyed North and South, the situation with Frederick not being resolved was at first rather frustrating but, on reflection, there are often things in life that remain unresolved and so th..."

I would agree that Frederick's story--the lack of any satisfactory resolution did give it a realistic touch--now that Margaret is married and has a good income, I assume she can travel with Mr Thornton and visit hi and Dolores.


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