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Study Guide: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: Summary

This story tells of the relationship between Margaret Hale,

a young middle class woman from the south, and John

Thornton, a mill owner in Milton, a fictional industrial

town in the north (the town is modelled on Manchester).

It also deals with the relationship of workers and masters. read more...

North and South - The Guardian Reviews


1854 was certainly a good year for the social novel. Charles Dickens had just completed Hard Times, his serialised account of life in a northern mill-town. The very next story published in his Household Words magazine was also set in the "smoky, dirty" north – except, this time, the injustices of working life weren't chronicled by an appalled visitor but by someone who lived in Manchester, Elizabeth Gaskell.

Whether this made for a more authentic novel is moot. Undeniably, Gaskell's sympathies were with the poor: North and South's central concept is the gradual realisation of haughty, scornful southerner Margaret Hale that there is a beauty to the "vulgarity of shop people". There's also a clever balance to North and South, a certain acknowledgment of the middle-class manufacturers who raise themselves "into the power and position of a master by [their] own exertions".read more...

Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Happy in Helstone (Sort of)

If you're feeling like griping, you could probably criticize the opening exposition of this novel for taking its sweet time. It's a full seven more...


North and South Summary

North and South - Historical Analysis

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