This is a very big novel. When compared with the satire of society that Jane Austen offers, Gaskell offers so much more in exploring the big issues: societal structure, economy, religion, and a woman’s place in society. There is even political dissidence in the form of Frederick! And of course, the moral is in the ending – Margaret marries Thornton, whom she once considered beneath her in class. And she exclaims “I am not worthy. ” when they finally speak of their love. Compare this to the rigid ideas offered by Emma about marrying outside of class. Social Structure: Social structure is questioned at every turn.
Edith and her family are all basically nice enough, but they are more or less a useless waste of space. So the natural authority of the gentry is questioned. Elevated status associated with the clergy is questioned (Gaskell was in a safe place to do this, as she was a clergyman’s wife. ) as Mr Hale falls from grace, so is Margaret’s self importance and pride in her father’s role in the community. Likewise, elevated status based on education is questioned, Hale says of the manufacturers: “some of them do really seem to be fine fellows, conscious of their own deficiencies, which is more than many a man at Oxford is. The emerging manufacturer’s class is shown to have both slimy mercurial people and honourable people (e. g. Thornton and his mother) but even the slimy people are at least useful – they are able to discuss politics and economy around the dinner table at Thornton’s party. Finally, Higgins and Boucher round off the panoramic view of society, showing the stupid, ignorant, but utterly pitiable Boucher of the lower classes, contrasted with Higgins, who is a clever man, a philosopher, a Unionist, an atheist, and as honourable and good a man as Thornton is. Higgins might just be Gaskell’s favourite character.
The overall tone of the novel is that social structure is artificial, there being good and worthy people on every level, and is very socialist in sentiment that when we all work together, learning about each other, and losing prejudices, it is better for each individual and for the whole. Politics: The weaknesses of both sides of the political struggle in Milton are exposed in Gaskell’s novel. Thornton’s Capitalist notion that any man can raise himself through work is shown to be false, and the sad poverty of those at the base of the Capitalist system is shown.
Ailments from the lack of work legislations such as Bessy’s sickness and eventual death are also attributed to the great Capitalist machine. The message here is that Capitalism alone is not the answer – although it does drive progress, there are many social casualties. The unionist we focus on most is Higgins, who is an honourable man, who gives out of his own meagre purse to help others in the movement. He is fighting not just for himself, but for the others, like Boucher, who aren’t able to fight for themselves. He only wants what’s fair – he is an idealist and very moral.
So the sentiments of the Union movement are praised in Gaskell’s novel. However, the realities – that people like Boucher, who don’t share Higgins’ intelligence or idealism – turn violent in mobs, is an unpleasant side effect. The fact that many Unionists pressure others to join the union in the workplace is another unpleasant side effect. And the quietly slipped in question – “Where do the unions get their money from? ” is implicit of corruption at the most, or mandatory fees from their pressured-in members at the least.
So the message is that, while the Unions are good in theory, their application is lacking in real world situations. However, Gaskell’s notion that if men and masters respect and understand each other, the system prospers for all is equally idealistic and lacks in real world application, for it relies on the fact that all members are both honourable and well educated. This gap in reality is partly accounted for in the fact that Thornton loses all his money because he will not risk not being able to pay his employees their due if the business proposition goes sour.
Being moral in business does not always pay – Gaskell recognises this. The issue of government regulations and “interference” in business practices is also touched on. The idea is met with distain by all manufacturers, either because they regulate their own businesses soundly without having to be told – like Thornton, or because they don’t want to regulate their businesses soundly – ie: everyone else. While this interference, and the labeling of “unparliamentary smoke” is ridiculed by Milton characters, to a modern responder it is perfectly reasonable – and it seemed reasonable to Gaskell too.
However, military/government injustice is considered in the story of Frederick, and once again the imposed hierarchy of systems – this time the naval system- is questioned, as Frederick is more honourable than his captain. Systems of government are also touched upon when Mr Thornton says: “On some future day – in some millennium – in Utopia, this unity may be brought into practice – just as I can fancy a republic the most perfect form of government. ” Religion: Gaskell’s own morality which is the omnipresent governance of the novel is very Christian.
It advocates sacrifice and humility, kindness and virtuousness. She makes martyrs out of more than one character eg: Bessy, Margaret, Higgins, Margaret’s mother, and even Thornton towards the end of the book. However, it is not the dogmatic Christian approach which does not question. Mr Hale is a good, kind man who is very moral. Perhaps because of his own fall from grace, he sees the good in people like Thornton and Higgins without Margaret’s initial class prejudice. He continues to doubt the religion in which he instructed til death, though he continues to pray, and practice Christian morality.
His actual doubts about religion are conveyed in an unclear manner due to Mr Hale’s distress and Margaret’s prejudice. He seems not to doubt religion, but to doubt the institution of the church as a vehicle for religion, (which is to the modern responder, very wise) but in context makes him a heretic – one who rejects the church. However, he loves the church and his lifestyle and wishes he did not feel that way. Margaret is a very Christian character, but even she has a moment of doubt: “She looked out upon the dark-grey lines of the church tower…and yet, no sign of God! her resolution of this fact is simply this: “If the world was full of perplexing problems she would trust, and only ask to see the one step needful for the hour. ” in short, she reconciles herself to Christianity by not looking further into her questions.
Bessy’s limited understanding of Christianity as some fairytale where she will be granted riches for having suffered in life shows the needs basis of religion – those who suffer need to believe there is a reason, or at least a reward for their suffering: “I’m weary…and longing to get away to the land of Beulah. and yet she questions: “I think if this life is the end, and there’s no God to wipe away the tears from all eyes – yo’ wench, yo! ” Higgins take on religion is far more realistic and rational: “when I see the world going wrong at this time o’ day, bothering itself with things it knows nought about, and leaving undone all the things which lie in disorder close at its hand – why I say, leave all this talk about religion alone…” Gaskell criticises both the structure and application of religion in that the lower classes miss out on its ministrations.
Higgins comments that the upper classes are quick to teach them political economy, but not about saving their souls. Other religions – Islamics and Roman Catholics are mentioned. Margaret is horrified with her father’s heretic decision “as if he had announced a desire to turn Mahometan” but this is coloured by Margaret’s own prejudice. Frederick is shown to be a good, just man, and he converts to Roman Catholicism for his bride. Feminism: The criticisms of North and South lie in the misrepresentation of the amount of women in factory work.
Historical figures show that the strikes on which the Milton strike was based were populated around 60% by women workers. Critics go on to say that women in the workforce are marginalised into sickly creatures like Bessy, and then go on to say that Margaret’s place is shown to be in the home. However, the tone of the novel is not conducive to these conclusions. Yes, the novel martyrs the working woman, but that is more a product of Christian values than explicit anti feminist ones, and a desire to make pitiable the lot of the workers – it being easier to make a young, sick working girl a pitiable character than say, an old, gruff workman.
In this perhaps Gaskell is appealing to sexist prejudice but she has a target audience to consider. The issue of her referring to the workers as “men” does not necessarily eject women from the workplace – it is an umbrella term, and one that Thornton only adopts when Margaret objects to his calling the workers “hands”. Bessy’s mere existence, and Higgins’ remark that none of Boucher’s children were factory age, shows clearly that women and children make up the ranks of the factory workers.
Ideas of modesty in accordance with Christian values are in play, especially with the implications around Margaret’s sighting with Frederick, but Mrs Thornton’s scorn of useless people, and Margaret’s own education in the manufacturing class to the point where she understands the political and economical terms, and is able to draft a business proposal with her lawyer at the end of the novel put more emphasis on the value of women beyond domestic pursuits. Gender stereotyping in and of itself is quite limited in the novel.
There are examples of strong men crying: e. g. Thornton, of men who are incapable of decision making, e. g. Mr Hale, who is dependent on his daughter’s decisions. Margaret, who is a strong woman, however driven by Christian responsibility she is, she becomes head of the house, and quite worldly towards the end of the book but still has emotions and cries when she is sad. Mrs Thornton is an equally strong woman who has suffered a difficult life, and who is also an emotional being.
Mrs Hale is initially seen as whiny, but in truth she is suffering her illness in stoic silence. Higgins is a good father to his adopted orphans and is shown to be tender in regards to Bessy. In short, not a single major character in the book fits into gender stereotypes of the time. This more than anything else shows that Gaskell’s approach to her characters was not intended to limit them in terms of gender, any more than she desired them to be limited by class.
There is a fair bit of sexual imagery in the novel – e. g. Margaret’s bracelet, and her wrapping herself around Mr Thornton. This pays homage to the sexual undercurrent of Victorian society, and though arguments linking sexuality to feminism arise, what can be said of the sexual imagery is that it is subtle, and is more about attraction than lust, (again, very Christian) but removing the power-play from sexual imagery, and almost acting as an equalizer.
However, Thornton is more free to express his longing for Margaret than Margaret for him – this may be less to do with the fact that she is a woman, and more to do with the fact that she is a devoted Christian. Economics: Scarcity of money is a driving concern in the book – for the Hales, the Higginses, and eventually, for Thornton. The only people who seem comfortable with their commerce are Edith’s vapid family. Stigmas associated with manufacturing are under flux –Thornton’s name is known abroad as an excellent business man.
The political economy which underpins much of the plot is that of early capitalism, where the onus was on the manufacture of a quality product. Thornton’s own standards of production are well known, and he will not sell any lower-grade cotton. The English cotton manufacturers are being undercut by the American cotton growers, because the American cotton growers have black slave labour at their disposal. However, there was at this time Free Market trade, with no laws imposed by any governments on the industries to make them more fair.
It was believed at the time that businesses flourished when such decisions were left to private enterprise: The term for this is a Lassez-Faire economy – French for “let it be”. Capitalism developed out of this stage by the second world war, becoming Marketing Capitalism, where the onus was not on producing the best product, but designing the best advertising. Capitalism is undergoing another change in modern times to become more services based, and cyber-product based, where you don’t receive any solid “product” for your purchase. Bibliography: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
3 easy math history questions
1. Draw a cube in oblique perspective, as well as 1 point, and 3 point perspective. Doesn’t have to be perfect,
but should be clear in terms of what it’s showing and how it was constructed. Label the focal points and horizon
2. Consider the following parametric equations for parabolic projectile flight (a,c > 0)
x(t) = at
y(t) = – 2t^2 ct
Give the explicit form of the equation as y = f(x) and draw a sketch of the parabola for t greater than or equal to
zero, labeling the key points (such as the roots).
3. Use the attached log tables to estimate/calculate the product: 4.51 * 12.21. Show as much of your work as
possible in the time justifying the work. You do not need to scan the log tables in your uploaded solution unless
your marking them is important to explaining your method.