North and South

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A novel by Mrs Gaskell, published serially in Household Words 1854–5, in volume form 1855.

This novel is a study of the contrast between the values and habits of rural southern England and industrial northern England. The heroine, Margaret Hale, is the daughter of a parson whose religious doubts force him to resign his Hampshire living and to move to a sooty cotton‐spinning northern city. Here, at a moment of conflict between workers and employers, Margaret meets the grim intolerant Mrs Thornton and her son, an able, stubborn manufacturer, whose lack of sympathy for the workers Margaret at first finds unattractive. When she endangers herself to protect him from a mob of strikers he misunderstands her motives and offers marriage, which she refuses. But when he suspects her of an intrigue with another man (in fact her brother, whom she has to shield as he is in danger of arrest), she realizes she loves him. After a series of deaths and other misfortunes Margaret and Thornton are finally united, and Margaret comes to respect both mill‐hands and mill‐owners.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810—1865) novelist and short-story writer

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