Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South

(2490 words)
  • Josie Billington (University of Liverpool)

North and South is part-industrial novel, part-Bildungsroman, part-love story. The opening chapters, which have often puzzled readers (Charlotte Brontë among them) as a result of their leisurely indirectness and apparently unfocused fluidity of interest and location, are in fact a prime example of Mrs Gaskell's typical method in this novel which proceeds by gradual, piece-by-piece accretion of myriad, often conflictual centres of activity, value and being. We first meet the novel's heroine, Margaret Hale, a “stately girl of eighteen”, in the drawing-room of the Harley Street home where she has lived since childhood as the companion of her cousin, Edith. Margaret's status as relative outsider amid this world of wealth a…

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Billington, Josie. "North and South". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 July 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3238, accessed 27 November 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Family Sagas/ Chronicles