The novel north and south is an exclusive piece of fictional writing done by Elizabeth Gaskell. Elizabeth is an English writer and also the author of the novel Mary Barton. The novel North and South attracted much interest resulting to its adoption in the television for two periods; 1975 and later in 2004.
Its setting is in an industrial town by the name Milton which is located in northern England. It revolves around a story of a lady by the name Margaret Hale who is forced to leave her home located in the south of tranquil rural. She finally goes and settles in Milton with her parents. At this time she was nineteen years old. Here she witnesses the bad conditions in which employers molest employees at a time when there’s much of industrial revolution going on.
The employees in turn organize strikes, this makes her sympathies so much with them. What she likes most about them is their hard work. She makes friends with most of them and clashes with John Thornton. During her 18 months which she spends in Milton she gradually learns to appreciate the city and its hard working people especially Nicholas Higgins who is a representative of the workers union and his daughter by the name Bessy. Margaret feels so sorry for Higgins when a time comes and Higgins loses her only daughter who dies of inhaling cotton dust. The story is capturing and interesting to read, one sympathies with the workers in Milton as he or she unfolds the pages of the great novel north and south.
In Charles dickens analysis of the novels’ title; north and south. To him this title is fit for the novel unlike Elizabeth Gaskells’ preference to name the book Margaret Hale who is the main Heroine. He says the title brings out clear the differences in lifestyles between the rural southern England with which its main inhabitants are the affluent landed gentry and poor agricultural workers. Also are the industrial north populated by the rich manufactures and the unfortunate poor mill workers. To him this title merges the huge difference and distance between the rich and the poor. North symbolizes one class of people for example the rich while south stands for the poor.The gap between are the challenges faced by inhabitants.
However, the title “Margaret Hale” was better since it revolved around Margaret Hale who is the main heroine. This story centers on haughty Margaret Hale who learns to overcome her deep prejudices against the north in general and the charismatic manufacturer John Thornton. A reader is supposed to identify with the novel and get the impression that it comes with it by only reading the title. By naming the novel ‘North and South’, a new person to the book will find it hard to know what it is about but if the book could have remained the latter title, a new reader will definitely know that this story revolves around a heroine lady by the name Margaret Hale. The reader will then be in a suspense and will anticipate to know what does this lady do and what goes on around her. Mary Barton is an explicit example of a novel written by the same writer in 1948.
Tristan Gans, 2010. Writes about the concept of unity in the novel. He says that Margaret is not portrayed in the novel as a choosy person when taking sides as she acknowledges the importance of mutually dependent and beneficial relationships between individuals. He draws his reasoning when Mr. Hale discusses with Margaret and Higgins. Mr. Hale says that “your union in itself would be beautiful and glorious. It would be Christianity in itself. If it were but for an end which affected the good of all, instead of that of merely one class as opposed to another”. (Page 229).
He continues to support his argument saying the book basically majors on unity and derives his evidence from page 230. Here the writer says that Margaret was a church woman while her husband was a dissenter and Higgins was an infidel but due to unity they kneel down in prayer which does the three different people no harm.
The novel doesn’t really focus on unity but rather just sympathies with the poor and the hard life they go through to make there day to day earnings. It brings out the cruelty brought by the reach in the society and the harsh treatments which employers impose to their workers who work in there firms during this time of industrialization. This is evidenced during the long talks of Margaret with Higgins on the rights and obligations of workers and masters, Mr. Hale encourages her daughter to adhere to Mr. Thornton’s approval of not seeking revenge on the workers. (Page 228).
Tristan Gans, 2010.The Concept of unity in Elizabeth Gaskell’s, “North and South”.