Elizabeth Gaskell: Ruth

(2919 words)
  • Josie Billington (University of Liverpool)

Ruth, Mrs Gaskell's second full-length novel, sets out, like Mary Barton before it, deliberately to challenge its middle-class readership to imaginative sympathy with a conventionally unsympathetic character and situation. Ruth is the first novel in nineteenth-century England to take for its heroine a fallen woman. Based on the real-life events experienced by a young unmarried mother whose cause Mrs Gaskell had personally taken up, Ruth tells the story of a girl of respectable parentage, now orphaned and apprenticed to a dressmaker, who is seduced by a young squire, Richard Bellingham. When Bellingham abandons her in the Welsh village where she and her lover have been living, Ruth, pregnant and despairing, is …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Citation:
Billington, Josie. "Ruth". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 June 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=2276, accessed 29 August 2015.]