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North And South, Irony, "Pride And Prejudice" And The Class System.

1088 words - 4 pages

"North and South" by Elizabeth Gaskell is a Victorian novel. It presents readers to issues of class, religion, society, industrial, rural and aristocratic life and exposes them to the truths of hard work and survival. Elizabeth Gaskell does this through travelling to each of these different places in her book, using the key character Margaret. Not only do we see their ways of life through Margaret but she also interprets it and who has her own set of strong beliefs and prejudices. Gaskell inter-relates the industrial and the female issues of the novel because the exploration is as much about the condition of women as the condition of workers. Margaret comes across all these and from her opinions, behavior and interaction we get a very strong distinction of her character. John Thornton we meet later in the book and though him and Margaret disagree on many points at first we see that both are just characters grown from their individual environments, and so having the typical views that a person from a certain place would have. He is a wealthy tradesman yet has seen his own lack in education and so becomes a pupil of Mr. Hale who is a well-read post-oxford student."Margaret, noted for speaking her mind, is repeatedly cast into the role of mediator". This is very true in the book, we see her ability to comprehend a person's nature and to 'pull the right strings' in a person to reach her desired result. This talent is suggested to have come from the father, "Surely you can charm the landlord into re-papering one or two of the rooms". This is quite ironic as though he is unable to she unsuspectingly manages to get the rooms re-papered by catching the eye of Mr. Thornton. Another example of this is when she is given the load of telling her mother about the father's decision to leave the church and Helstone. She does this very gently and slowly and once she has told her mother, comforts her and soon after takes the position as the head of the house to arrange and prepare for the moving of house.Margaret's caring and compassionate nature can be seen very easily and from the very beginning o the novel. She shows her companionship to Edith and while her "god-bless her-she's sleeping" cousin is resting she takes her place in displaying the Indian shawls. Even when she denies Henry Lennox's proposal to be more than just friends, she refuses him politely and saves him embarrassment by saying that she will forget the matter.One of the stronger faults of Margaret however, and we see this throughout a lot of the novel, is her honest belief that she is of a higher level when compared with "tradesmen". We must however understand that this is a Victorian novel and Elizabeth Gaskell expects the reader to have knowledge about the layered social environment. Her honest opinion that her class is above John Thornton and to show this openly is quite ironic, as we see that John Thornton is a very wealthy tradesmen and attempts to help settle them in and is yet looked down...

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