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North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South is one of the best and popular works of Elizabeth Gaskell and a significant one of the Victorian age. It presents a female protagonist, a love story, and the socio-political situations regarding industrialization and class discrimination of the contemporary world.

North And South Movie

North and South is a sequel to the love story of Margaret Hale, a southerner who is being forced to move to the northern town. BBC has produced two miniseries of it. The first version is produced by David Turner in 1975 and the second one is in 2004 by Sandy Welch.

North And South Summary

The novel starts with the wedding preparation of Edith, the cousin of Margaret, who has grown up together. Margaret receives a marriage proposal from Edith’s brother-in-law, Henry. Margaret and her family are being forced to leave England and move to the industrial state of Milton.

Margaret loses her mother who has been sick for long and her father while he visited Oxford. Mr Thornton and Margaret fall in love with each other slowly. She saves his failing business and they embrace their love for each other.

North And South Analysis

The novel is primarily about to be titled as Margaret Hale but later it has been changed with the suggestion of Charles Dickens. This novel has published in parts in Household Words.

The story of the novel highlights the differences between the northern states and the southern states. This novel is about Margaret who is a middle-class girl of a southern village.

The novel is based upon the themes of love, religion and industrialization. The character of the protagonist describes the languages which have been used to compose the novel.

North And South Quotes

“I know you despise me; allow me to say, it is because you do not understand me.”

“Margaret was not a ready lover, but where she loved she loved passionately, and with no small degree of jealousy.”

“But the future must be met, however stern and iron it be.”

“But the cloud never comes in that quarter of the horizon
from which we watch for it.”

“I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is, even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.”

North And South Synopsis

The novel starts with the wedding preparation of Edith, Margaret’s cousin. She has spent the past ten years with her aunt and cousin. After the celebration, Margaret returns to her village, Helstone. She is shocked by the unexpected and unwanted proposal of marriage from Edith’s brother in law, Henry Lennox.

But what shocked her the most is her father’s news that doubts about the Church of England will make him and his leave the Church and move to the industrial town of Milton.

The Hale family move to the North and Mr Hale becomes a private tutor. Margaret tries to adjust to her new and unlovely environment. She does not like the business and rudeness of the residents. One of Milton’s wealthiest manufacturers, Mr Hale’s friend and pupil Mr Thornton, grow a love for Margaret both despite and because of her pride, but she dislikes him.

The strike by Milton’s workers is a reason for disagreement. Mr Thornton professes ridicule for the strikers and Margaret is being unknown to the reasons for the strike. This is to an introduction of her to the labour of Milton, Nicholas Higgins, and his daughter Bessy.

In Milton Mrs Hale develops a critical illness. Later Mr Thornton confesses his love for Margaret but she refuses him.

Bessy Higgins has died from her long sickness. Mrs Hale’s death is also close, and she wishes to see her son Frederick. Frederick Hale is an escapist from England. Frederick, at a risk, reaches Milton and visits his dying mother on her deathbed.

Frederick’s visit brings complications for Margaret. At the train station, while bidding his sister goodbye, Fredrick and Margaret are noticed by Mr. Thornton, who assumes Frederick to be Margaret’s secret lover. Frederick is also seen by an old enemy.

He pushes the man away from him and these injuries later lead the man to death and this incident is noticed at the station by other people. Margaret lies to the police inspector to protect her brother, Frederick.

Then Mr Hale departs for Oxford to visit Mr Bell who is his former tutor and Margaret’s godfather. There Mr Hale passes away in his sleep. Margaret spends time alone and ponders about all the tragedies she has suffered from, in the past two years.

Margaret’s love and respect for Mr Thornton start growing slowly. She expects Mr Bell, who is Mr Thornton’s landlord, will let Mr Thornton know about the reasons for her falsehood. Frederick remains living in Spain with his wife.

Mr. Bell also passes away from illness and leaves everything for Margaret. One day Mr Thornton comes to visit Henry Lennox. He explains everything about his failed business by the strike. He no longer maintains discrimination between master and workers. This change increases respect between Mr Thornton and Nicholas Higgins.

When Margaret comes to know about the failure of his business, she is sympathized with him and decides to save the mill. When she tells him of this, the love and intimacy between them, grow. They express their love for each other.

North And South Industrial Revolution

The Northern states are the industries or manufacturers. The Northern states are more about urban society and making a living by producing things whereas the Southern states are more about agriculture. This leads the North to higher urbanization.

Margaret moves to Milton, the northern industrial land from a Southern village. In the industrial state, she faces a brutal strike by the workers against the masters. This forces the masters to maintain a humanitarian relationship between the master and workers and reduces class discrimination.

North And South Character Analysis

Margaret Hale

Margaret is the heroine of this novel. She is passionate, religious, intelligent and a deep thinker but she takes quick decisions and actions. She has faced my family tragedies but still is in peace. As the novel progresses her love grows for Mr Thornton.

Mr Hale

Mr Hale is the husband of Mrs Hale and the father of Margaret and Frederick. He resigns and leaves the church of England and moves to the industrial town of Milton with his family. He starts working as a private tutor. Mrs Hale’s death leads him to depression and he passes away while visiting Mr Bell in Oxford.

Mrs Hale

Mrs Hale is the wife of Mr Hale and the mother of Margaret and Frederick. She envies her sister because her sister was living a luxurious life. When they move to Milton, she becomes very ill and wishes to see Frederick. She dies after Frederick visits her.

Frederick Hale

Frederick is the son of Mr And Mrs Hale and the brother of Margaret. Primarily he was a sailor in the British Navy but later fled to Spain. He adopts Roman Catholicism and marries a catholic girl.


Dixon is an extremely loyal servant of the Hale family who travels with them to Milton and remains as an employee in their house. Dixon is much trustworthy to Mrs Hale and believes that Mr Hale is responsible for Mrs Hale’s sufferings. Frederick is her favourite child but eventually, she grows respect for Margaret.

Edith Shaw

Edith Shaw is the cousin of Margaret with whom she has grown up. She is beautiful and friendly. She is married to Captain Lennox and they have a child and they live in Corfu.

Mrs Shaw

Mrs Shaw is the sister of Mrs Hale and the aunt of Margaret. She envies her sister, Mrs. Hale because she is married to her love. She tries to keep her eyes on Margaret’s activities.

Captain Lennox

He is the husband of Edith Shaw. He is handsome and tall. He is very concerned about the beauty of Edith Shaw.

Henry Lenox

Henry Lennox is the brother of Captain Lennox. He thinks he loves Margaret and proposes her for marriage but gets rejected. He agrees to help Frederick to woo Margaret once again.

Mr. Bell

Mr. Bell is the godfather of Margaret and a former tutor at Oxford. He advises Mr Hale and Margaret to come back to Oxford so that their lives will be easier. He leaves everything for Margaret after his death.

Mr. Thornton

Mr John Thornton is the son of Mrs Thornton and the brother of Fanny Thornton. He is a wealthy, proud and intelligent person and owns a mill in Milton. He is in love with Margaret. At the end of the novel, Margaret saves his failing business.

Mrs Thornton

Mrs Thornton is the mother of Mr Thornton and Fanny Thornton. She is very proud and opinionated women. She does not like Margaret mostly but at times she is seen admiring Margaret.

Fanny Thornton

She is the daughter of Mrs Thornton and sister of Mr Thornton. She is weak, nervous and easily prejudiced. She is married to a businessman.

Nicolas Higgins

Nicolas Higgins is the father of Bessy Higgins and Mary Higgins. He is a poor and hardworking man. He loses his daughter Bessy in a striking failure.

Bessy Higgins

Bessy is the daughter of Nicolas and the sister of Mary. She is very sick and dies at a striking failure and looks peaceful.

Mary Higgins

Mary Higgins is the younger sister of Bessy and the daughter of Nicholas. She very hardworking and works as a maiden in the Hale’s house.

North And South Summary By Chapter

Chapter 1:

Margaret tries to wake Edith up who is still sleeping. It was Edith’s wedding and they have grown up together but now it is time to return to her parents. Henry and Margaret talk about Helstone.

Chapter 2:

Margaret returned to her home, Helstone, with a heavy heart. Margaret finds pleasure in nature, forest and books. Later, Henry comes for a visit.

Chapter 3:

Henry and Margaret start walking and talking. Henry quickly sketches Margaret and this amazed her. Henry proposes her for marriage but she refuses. Henry becomes cold and comes back home and realized he does not hate Margaret.

Chapter 4:

Mr Hale tells Margaret that they need to leave England. This sudden change in the lifestyle frustrates Margaret. They plan to settle in Milton which is an industrial town. Mr Hale asks Margaret to convey this news to her mother.

Chapter 5:

Margaret starts facing troubles and feeling sad, remembering the old days. She tells she has moved on with time. They seem pleased with each other.

Chapter 6:

The family has departed and Margaret thinks of Henry Lennox now. In the evening they reach London. Margaret looks at the busy people of the town and thinks how lonely and friendless they look.

Chapter 7:

Margaret is feeling peaceful through nature. She and her father face trouble in search of a house in Milton. There Margaret meets Mr Thornton, the friend and pupil of her father. They are delighted to move to their new house.

Chapter 8:

Their house was dirty. Margaret reads the letters from Edith and remembers her old good fays. Margaret feels uncomfortable in Milton for such independence. Margaret is to see people, interested in her.

Chapter 9:

Mr Hale announces that he has invited Mr Thornton to their house. Mrs Hale and Margaret are unhappy with it. Mrs Thornton is also not so pleased with this. She does not like Margaret and criticizes her for being poorer than them.

Chapter 10:

Mr Thornton comes to Hale’s house. He keeps staring at her and Margaret notices how different they are from each other. Then they talked about each other and the North and the South. At the departure of Thornton, Margaret refuses to shake hands with Mr Thornton.

Chapter 11:

Mr Hale tells Margaret about the Thornton family. One day Margaret meets Bessy Higgins and asks her about her health. Margaret and Bessy were kind to each other. Margaret promises Bessy, she will return but can not do so.

Chapter 12:

Mrs Thornton complains to Mr Thornton for going to the Hale’s house. Mrs Thornton and Fanny Thornton go to visit Mrs Hale as Mr Thornton wants them to do so. Mrs Thornton is not pleased with Margaret and denies Fanny not to be friendly with her too much.

Chapter 13:

Margaret visits Bessy. Bessy explains how she fell sick. Margaret promises Bessy to befriend with her and her sister always. Mrs Hale becomes more ill and Margaret tries to tell her father about it.

Chapter 14:

Margaret asks her mother about her brother, Frederick. Margaret wonders about her brother because he has not returned to home for seven years now. Frederick was in South America for many years and now is in Spain. Mrs Hale fears that probably she will never see him again.

Chapter 15:

Mr Hale and Margaret visit Mrs Thornton to talk about Mrs Hale’s sickness. Mrs Thornton finds Margaret to be very proud and bold and she starts liking her. Mr Thornton apologizes to Margaret for his previous behaviour.

Chapter 16:

Dr Donaldson comes to visit Mrs Hale. Margaret pleads to be her mother’s nurse. Margaret and Dixon speak for long and Dixon shows her affection towards Margaret that she has for so long.

Chapter 17:

Margaret goes out and meets Nicholas. They then discuss the differences between the Northern men and Southern men. Margaret has never come across a strike in South. Margaret becomes annoyed and starts talking about her personal sufferings to Bessy and Nicholas.

Chapter 18:

Mrs Thornton invites the Hale family for dinner. Mrs Thornton talks about the Hale family to Mr Thornton and she can not decide if she likes or dislikes Margaret.

Chapter 19:

Margaret visited Bessy before the dinner party. Bessy tells her that many other wealthy people will be invited to the party. The medicines, given by Dr Donaldson, is working for Mrs Hale. Margaret visits Bessy again and she looks pale and fainted.

Chapter 20:

Margaret comes back home and dresses up for the dinner party with a heavy heart. Mr Thornton is amazed by the beauty of Margaret. He talks to Margaret and admires her.

Chapter 21:

Margaret’s perspective on Mr Thornton starts changing. After coming back home they see Mrs Hale’s condition is worse. Margaret becomes restless with the fear of being motherless. She heads to the Thornton’s.

Chapter 22:

Margaret reaches Thornton’s and Mr Thornton comes to hear her. Margaret gets fainted and Mrs Thornton decides she will call a surgeon but Margaret says she is okay and wants to go home.

Chapter 23:

Mr Thornton comes to the room and asks his mother about Margaret. Later at night, they talk about Margaret and about her pride. Margaret comes back home and recalls all the incidents of the day.

Chapter 24:

Next day Mr. Thornton comes to meet Margaret. Mr Thornton expresses his love for Margaret. She rejects him and he leaves.

Chapter 25:

Margaret compares Mr Thornton with Mr Henry Lennox. Mrs Hale wishes to see her son, Frederick. Margaret writes a letter and posts even before Mr Hale comes.

Chapter 26:

Mr Thornton is in pain after the rejection. Mr Thornton tells his mother about the rejection and she gets angry and starts hating her immensely.

Chapter 27:

Mr Thornton comes to the Hale’s to see Mrs Hale but pays no attention to Margaret. Dixon tells Margaret that Bessy is passed away this morning.

Chapter 28:

Nicholas and Mary Higgins meet Margaret. They mourn together for Bessy. Mr Hale asks Nicholas to join them in prayer.

Chapter 29:

Margaret receives a letter from Edith about her life and child. She asks Margaret and Mrs Hale to stay with her. Meanwhile, Mr Thornton comes again with some fruits and pays no attention to Margaret again.

Chapter 30:

Mrs Thornton visits Mrs Hale. Frederick arrives and Margaret needs to tell this to her father as it was problematic for the family. Mrs Hale passes away the next day.

Chapter 31:

Margaret is in grief and she has to take care of her family. Margaret speaks about Frederick’s situation as an escapist and wonders how she can get her brother out of this. Margaret writes a letter to Henry Lennox to help Frederick.

Chapter 32:

Frederick can cause them trouble so he leaves Milton. Margaret bids him goodbye at the station. At the station Leonard recognizes them.

Chapter 33:

Next day it was Mrs Hale’s funeral and Margaret receives a letter from her brother and it says that he needs to stay in London for some days. Mr Thornton suspects Frederick to be Margaret’s lover.

Chapter 34:

A police inspector comes to investigate Margaret about the incident that took place at the station. They question Margaret and she denies them but less confidently which creates doubt. The police inspector says he will come again.

Chapter 35:

Mr Thornton meets the inspector and the inspector asks for his advice. Mr Thornton suggests the inspector close the matter right there as he wants to save Margaret. Margaret grows in respect for Mr Thornton.

Chapter 36:

Mr Hale and Margaret meet Nicholas Higgins. Margaret goes to a neighbour’s house and burst into tears. Her father comes and says Boucher has killed himself.

Chapter 37:

Mr Hale and Margaret go to visit Mrs Boucher. Mr Higgins tells Mr Hale that he is going to look after the Boucher family. Margaret starts realizing the value of Mr Thornton.

Chapter 38:

Mr Thornton is annoyed with Margaret because of her falsehood and her secret beloved. Mrs Thornton visits Margaret to talk about her son. She judges Margaret too quickly for her rude behaviour. That morning Mr Higgins meets Mr Thornton but he didn’t respond to him.

Chapter 39:

Margaret now has overcome her sadness and regrets about her behaviour towards Mr Thornton. Mr Thornton feels apologetic and asks Mr Higgins to work with him.

Chapter 40:

Mr Bell comes to visit the hale family. Mr Bell and Mr Hale talk about the merits of Milton versus Oxford. Mr Thornton is angry with Margaret but later on enlightened with the truth and repents of it.

Chapter 41:

Mr Hale is fallen sick and suggests that he should visit Mr Bell in Oxford. Fanny Thornton is married to a wealthy businessman. Mr Hale passes away from illness.

Chapter 42:

Margaret falls out of grief. Mr Bell asks Mr Thornton about his feelings towards Margaret but he denies it and to avoid the conversation they start talking about landlords and tenants.

Chapter 43:

Mr Bell returns to Oxford for business purposes. Margaret and her aunt visit Thornton’s to bid goodbye. Even Higgins comes to bid goodbye that day.

Chapter 44:

Margaret now thinks how her life was in Helstone and in Milton. She now misses the things she did in Milton. Margaret talks about his brother, Frederick to Henry Lennox. Mr Bell comes to visit Margaret.

Chapter 45:

Mr Bell departs. Mr Lennox assures Margaret that her brother is happy and safe. Margaret starts feeling lonely as no one is by her side.

Chapter 46:

Mr Bell and Margaret travel to Helstone. Margaret is now guilty of her behaviour towards Mr Thornton and she wishes if she could undo the things. She has grown more respect for him now.

Chapter 47:

Dixon comes back to Milton to serve Margaret. Margaret has started living a normal life there. Henry has come to meet her. Their awkwardness is now gone away with time. They seem pleased with each other.

Chapter 48:

Margaret receives a letter about her godfather, visiting her next week. Mr Bell falls very sick the next day. Margaret stays up late at night and thinks about the sins she has committed through her life.

Chapter 49:

Edith speaks to Henry about Margaret and he seems hopeful about her. The family wants Margaret to be settled with Henry. Margaret decides that she needs to be assured about her feelings and serious about her affairs.

Chapter 50:

Mr Thornton is struggling with his business. Finally, he gives up on his business. He declines the partnership with the Hampers.

Chapter 51:

Margaret comes to know about the failure of Mr Thornton in his business. Thornton speaks about the new master-worker relationship. Margaret decides to help Mr Thornton as he had saved her.

Chapter 52:

Margaret asks Mr Lennox to help Mr Thornton. Margaret grows love for Mr Thornton by now. They accepted each other.

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