Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South (2490 words)

  • Josie Billington (University of Liverpool)

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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…

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 October 2016.]

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  1. Family Sagas/ Chronicles