North and South
Women Characters in North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell represents social inference and complications of citizens of England, the town which is called Milton (originally Manchester). The author used the model of Margaret Hale as women’s role and female treatment in that period of time. In the role of main character’s mothers, Gaskell exemplified two different women from the North and from the South Mrs. Thornton and Mrs. Hale. This essay is going to briefly examine into two female characters, specifically Hannah Thornton and Maria Hale concerning the representation of female heroines of the novel North and South and its adaptation from BBC (2004). Elizabeth Gaskell illustrated the strong power of women against the norms of the Victorian period. According to Balamurugan ‘Gaskell again took her powerful weapon feminism to exemplify female autarchy by two female characters named Margaret Hale in South and Mrs. Thornton in North where both of them never lose their autarchy in any situation.’ (Balamurugan, 2012). Moreover, Gaskell gives reader opportunity to explore people’s features from two different worlds: North and South to clearly examine dissimilar women characters like Mrs. Thornton and Mrs. Hale as two Mothers of main heroes of the novel John and Margaret. ‘North and South is the novel which portrays the opposition and segregation of the society into two North and South lines.’ (Balamurugan, 2012).
First of all, from the view of Elizabeth Gaskell, Mother of John Thornton – Mrs. Thornton is very proud and arrogant, as the author interprets Mrs. Thornton by the view of Mr. Hale, I fancy Mrs. Thornton is as haughty and proud in her way, as our little Margaret here is in hers, and that she completely ignores that old time of trial, and poverty, and economy, of which he speaks so openly. (Gaskell, 1855, p 140). Furthermore, in Gaskell’s novel Mrs. Thornton has the qualities of strong, powerful woman, the features that weak females don’t have in the Victorian period of time, she is proud of her son, unlike her daughter, she considers Fanny as “sick child”, ‘She compares Fanny to a sick child, which makes it clear that she does not expect a lot from her. Mrs. Thornton herself is of the total opposite kind, even her frame is described as strong’ (Gaskell, 1855, p 72). Also, heroine shown in the BBC adaptation as Mrs. Thornton is caring woman too, from the John Thornton’s line while describing his mother, “Having a mother of such strong will and integrity, and she managed that I could put three shillings aside a week, and I thank her every day for that early training” (North and South, 2004) from his story about losing father in early age, Mr. Thornton thanks his mother for bringing him up, ‘She protects and leads her family, including her male child. She teaches him to be frugal and to be thoughtful about the future. Because of her sacrifice and deviation from the norm, her son grew up successfully and quite wealthy.'(Gibson, 2015) and, likewise, Kate Bartlett (producer of the adaptation of North and South in BBC 2004) interprets the role of solicitous mothers in the scene of the dialogue of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Thornton where Mother of Margaret, Maria asked to ‘be friends’ with her daughter, Mrs. Thornton didn’t reject her, instead she accepted request of looking after her, Hannah said that: ” I promise that if Miss Hale should ask me for help, or if I should ever hear of her doing something that I see as wrong, I will counsel her as I would my own daughter. I promise.” (North and South, 2004). As for the physical appearance, in the adaptation, producers of the film tried to relate the standards of the Victorian era when people from the higher social level wore black colour, females ‘had low but pointed waists and bell-shaped skirts. Women wore corsets, which reached up to the knees and layers of petticoats under their gowns.'(Barber, 1980) From the line of Maria, about Mrs. Thornton’s dress ‘how exquisite, I haven’t seen English point-work quite like that for years” (North and South, 2004) illustrates that Hannah can afford herself exquisite ornaments in her dresses. That’s how Mrs. Thornton was represented from the written text of North and South and the BBC (2004) adaptation.
As for Mrs. Hale, Maria was described as a weak and sick woman, she has been suffering the “domestic worries” (Gaskell, 1855, p 83) in the novel and in the adaptation, Maria dies in a while after they leave their tranquil hometown to industrialized Northern city. However she was not always a weak woman, it seems that some circumstances made her sick, for example, injustice towards her son, when she eventually got sick, there was nothing she wanted more in her life than to see her son again, crying, ‘Frederick! Frederick! Come to me. I am dying. Little first-born child, come to me once again!’ (Gaskell, 1855, p 41). Moving to the Milton, Mrs. Hale’s latest hope was to see her son, Frederick one more time before she passed away, however, cannot stand the idea of having him in Milton with a danger of getting arrested. This is possibly why Margaret’s Mother is represented as a weak female character since she thought of others more than her own self. Sooner or later, that made her too weak and she passed on. “She has not always been a weak woman, because she also stood up for herself and married below her for love without approval. This shows a strength that Margaret has as well. However, it becomes clear that she cannot handle things as well as Margaret.” (Louttit, 2014). Mrs. Hale married for love, but found it difficult to be happy with the low income and somehow alienated life of a priest’s wife. She is not happy with that her husband hasn’t reached to a more socially sustaining place. From Aunt Shawn’s words, ‘Married for love, what can dearest Maria have to wish for in this world?’ Mrs. Hale, if she spoke the truth, might have answered with a ready-made list, ‘ a silver-gray glacé silk, a white chip bonnet, oh! Dozens of things….’ ‘ (Gaskell, 1855, p 19). As in the BBC adaptation, Mrs. Hale has shown as a frail and skinny woman who eventually became very pale and weak right before her death because of the illness.
To conclude, this essay examined that Elizabeth Gaskell portrayed two absolutely dissimilar women and constructed their characters comparing to their motherland, for example, Hannah Thornton, strong and powerful woman, very arrogant and proud personifies strong spirit of females in the Victorian era, originated from the North England, industrial town of Milton while Maria Hale was weak and frail woman from tranquil and rural south England city Helstone, who eventually dies from moving to the Milton and also unfair conditions of her son Frederick. The BBC 2004 adaptation produced by Kate Bartlett is written as similar as possible to the written text from Elizabeth Gaskell in 1855. This thesis has described some points in which the series North & South and the novel North and South represent females, their roles and their values. It is clear that the interpretation of two Mothers discussed above in the series have been illustrated in such a way that they appear in the novel.
The Evolution of Thornton’s Views on the Working Class in North and South
North and South, an industrial novel by the English writer Elizabeth Gaskell, presents to us the disparate perspectives of capitalist mill-owners and their factory workers, of ‘masters and men’, as they are called in the novel. The plight of the working classes was a commonly discussed topic during the Victorian era and has served as the subject of dozens of novels (such as Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and Shirley by Charlotte Brontë) which later came to form the genre of industrial novel. In his article Networks and the Industrial Novel Michael D. Lewis argues that the genre offers ”collective, political solutions to suffering and injustice” and while the novels ”certainly don’t advocate an extension of the vote”, they ”plot models of democratic networks that join a variety of opponents, from employer and employees to governor and governed.” (Lewis, 243) North and South offers a glimpse at some of the crucial issues in the relationship of industrial capitalists and the working class, but also a possible solution to these problems, which is presented to the readers through the evolution of John Thornton’s views on the working class.
John Thornton, one of the principal characters of the novel North and South, starts out as a classic representative of 19th century economic liberalism. As a person who was born poor but has become rich, he believes everybody can, through hard work and self-reliance, rise to the very top. After his father committed suicide because of debt he incurred through speculation, John had to leave school and provide for his family. Slowly but surely, he started accumulating wealth and is, at the beginning of the novel, known as an influental, wealthy, capitalist mill-owner in Milton, a small industrial town in the north of England.
‘It is one of the great beauties of our system, that a working-man may raise himself into the power and position of a master by his own exertions and behaviour; that, in fact, every one who rules himself to decency and sobriety of conduct, and attention to his duties, comes over to our ranks.’ (Gaskell, 96)
Thornton doesn’t seem to be completely ignorant of the hardships faced by factory workers, saying that ”there can be no doubt of tyranny [masters] excercised over their work-people” (Gaskell, 96), however, he refuses to acknowledge that the opportunities afforded to him might not be afforded to everyone. Workmen feel largely oppressed and exploited by their masters who don’t even call them men but ‘hands’. Mr. Thornton calls the relationship between these two classes a ‘battle’, believing it to be antagonistic in nature. This antagonism largely stems from the reluctance of both sides to communicate – seeing as both the masters and men are unaware of each other’s viewpoints and motives, their resentment and indignation grows. A good example of this in the novel would be the strike – the workers down their tools as their wages are cut because of the pressure of competition coming from America. The reasons that laid behind the cuts are not explained to the workers, so it’s only logical that they feel betrayed and decide to strike. When Margaret asks Thornton why he can’t simply explain to the workers that their wages are lowered because of bad trade, his reply is ‘Do you give your servants reasons for your expenditure, or your economy in the use of your own money? We, the owners of capital, have a right to choose what we will do with it…I will not be forced to give my reasons’ (164) He compares the workmen to children in need of guidance, all the while denying that the masters have anything to do with making or keeping them that way. He maintains that they are ”the happiest under the unfalling laws of a discreet, firm authority” (Gaskell, 140), hence ”despotism is the best kind of government for them”. (gaskell, 141) Mr. Hale argues that the workmen are more like teenagers, ”passing rapidly into the troublesome stage which intervenes between childhood and manhood” (Gaskell, 141), so masters should therefore take up the roles of friends and advisors. Essentially, what he is suggesting is that, in dealing with this issue, applying the philosophy of social paternalism (which Thornton seems to strongly support) might not be the best possible solution and that communication might be a better alternative. Margaret, taking the role of an altruist, implores Thornton to speak to the workers and explain the situation to them, saying that it is ”not in the least because of [his] labour and capital positions, but because [he] is a man, dealing with a set of men over whom [he] has, whether [he] rejects to use it or not, immense power, just because [their] lives and welfare are so constantly and intimately intervowen.” (Gaskell, 143) She manages to persuade him to do so at the height of the strike, when his house is sorrounded by an angry mob of rioters, by saying:
‘Mr. Thornton, go down this instant, if you are not a coward. Go down and face them like a man.Save these poor strangers whom you have decoyed here. Speak to your workmen as if they were human beings. Speak to them kindly. Don’t let the soldiers come in and cut down poor creatures who are driven mad. I see one there who is. If you have any courage or noble quality in you, go out and speak to them, man to man!’ (Gaskell, 209)
In addition, she tries to explain the position of masters to workmen, thus trying to build empathy between them:
‘Suppose they could not, or would not do the last; they could not give up their farms all in a minute, however much they might wish to do so; but they would have no hay, nor corn to sell that year; and where would the money come from to pay the labourers’ wages the next?’ (Gaskell, 156)
Margaret succeeds in her desire to establish communication between the classes. Swayed by Margaret, Thornton begins working on improving his relationship with the workers. He finally becomes aware of his own class privilege and seems to feel a sense of genuine empathy and concern for the working class. After first rejecting him, he reconsiders and decides to employ Nicholas Higgins, a character in the novel who serves as a representative of the working class. The two develop a business relationship – Thornton listens to Higgins’s ideas about the factory and starts implementing them while Higgins keeps Thornton informed of the thoughts and doings of the workers. The two complement each other perfectly and it is finally shown that the relationship between the two classes doesn’t have to be a battle and that it’s possible for them to work together. In his resolution to understand the workers better he even goes as far as to build them a dining room so he could provide them with dinner. He doesn’t go to the dining room without an invitation so he wouldn’t bother the workers, but when invited he’s happy to dine with them. He also helps the worker’s children by providing them with money for education. He no longer calls his workers ‘hands’. On his new course of action he says:
‘I have arrived at the conviction that no mere instituions, however wise, and however much thought may have been required to organise and arrange them, can attach class to class as they should be attached, unless the working out of such instituions bring the individuals of the different classes into actual personal contact. Such intercourse is the very breath of life. (…) I would take an idea, the working out of which would necessitate personal intercourse; it might not go well at first, but at every hitch interest would be felt by an increasing number of men, and at last its success in working come to be desired by all, as all had borne a part in the formation of the plan; and even then I am sure that it would lose its vitality, cease to be living, as soon as it was no longer carried on by that sort of common interest which invariably makes people find means and ways of seeing each other, and becoming acquainted with each others’ characters and persons, and even tricks of temper and modes of speech.’ (Gaskell, 515)
Jill L. Matus argues that Thornton’s views are “not changed by intellectual conviction…Rather, he needs to be motivated by personal contact with the people about whom he has so far generalized; only when he has one of his workers in his home…which forces him to recognize the workers as independent and responsible people” (Matus, 138).
As the novel reaches its end, it’s more than evident how much Thornton’s views and character have changed and what a positive influence this change has had. North and South introduces us to key predicaments of the Industrial Evolution, offering us a glimpse into the lives of both wealthy, capitalist mill-owners and the poor, struggling workmen. However, the novel also bestows upon us the solution to this issue of disparity – communication. With help of Margaret Hale and Nicholas Higgins, John Thornton realizes the power of communication and how beneficial it can be to both mill-owners and workmen. – through implementing the worker’s suggestions in the decision-making process and taking into account their needs and interests, as well as keeping them informed of the particulars of their workplace, both the workmen and the capitalists can flourish. A relationship that was once described as antagonistic can now almost be described as friendship.
The main Character of North and South and Society
The social structure in Victorian England was rigid and fixed, so any drift of change was highly judged. Gaskell’s novel “North and South” explores that, through situations, through characters, through war and peace. It is a novel about social structures, about respecting authority and tradition or defiance against it. The subject of this paper is the concept of social authority and the constant rebellion against it. Frederick is an example of the greatest fear of the middle class, a man who cannot reconcile his inner personal moral values with social norms and patterns of behavior that have been accepted in his society. Frederick as an individual and as a character reviews the relationship between personal and social responsibility and, as a tragic heroic character, accepts his destiny in the end. Frederick is delicate, but strong. He does not think about his actions thoroughly, but acts impulsively.
Frederick’s Character Review and the Consequences of His Mutiny
‘Literary character’ can best be understood in relation to a more fundamental concept, namely ‘literary characterization’. The latter is really a pragmatic concept in the sense that it focuses on the relationships between characters and their users. The relationship between the characters and the relation to the society is considered. ”The exact social conditions in England at this period clearly need to be delineated and an explanation thereof may shed some light on the particular thrust of Gaskell’s work, in particular North and South”, explains Chen (2017: 494). Therefore this work was the result of the relationships in society at that time. This work speaks about the contrast between the rural and cultural south and the industrial violent north. Also, author critically describes the consequences of strong industrialization in England at that time.
”North and South literally embodies social and economic exploitation – in the factory, on the land, in the law, army or navy”, says Uglow, (2003: 372). The example mentioned is the exact portrait of Frederick’s character. The main thing is that he impersonates part of society of the nineteenth century he lived in – his personality traits can be extended to personalities of a lot of people in that society, and explains their thoughts, reasons, actions and, in the end, the situation in America in the nineteenth century and why it was the way it was.
Frederick acts impulsively. His actions, in the the mutiny and upon his return to England could have had different consequences if he had thought them through. His exile in Spain was so hard for him that he feels the urge to change his whole identity, and his actions in England constantly haunt him. ”Frederick, who was one of the most senior officers, had been among those who had mutinied” (Gaskell, 2008: 24). Here author emphasizes his participation in the mutiny as he was an officer. As a matter of fact he did not act alone in the mutiny.
”He had joined the navy some years ago, and had taken part in a mutiny, with the result that he was now unable to return to England, as he would be arrested if he did” (Gaskell, 2008: 6). Here we can see his reason for going to Spain, because he would most likely end up in jail if he would return to England. Frederick is not sure whether his views on social justice and the sense of principles that guides him are suitable for nineteenth century laws or society’s mindset.
Furthermore, explains (Mikysková, 2011: 31), ”Frederick is depicted as a ‘lost’ son. He lives in Spain and cannot go back to England because he would go to prison. His behavior is irresponsible; he does not face the consequences of his acts. But he is also depicted as a devoted son, he comes back to England to see his mother before her death, even if it is very dangerous for him to appear in England again.” Consequences of Frederick’s action are harsh and deep. The consequences are visible in their influences on society and the environment. The fate he has brought upon himself is that he is exiled from his native country and family; he has to change his whole identity and person. His change of identity seemed to be truly needed at that time. Also, his family members back in England have to live with his actions – their own attitudes are deeply saturated with his mutiny.
Social Authority and Justice Frederick’s Mutiny in the Gaskell Novel
In the mid-nineteenth century, the structure of society was strictly set, the norms of behavior were known and had to be respected and followed. Industrial revolution and emancipation of workers had just begun and social justice was not seen in the same sense as it is today. The multi-century class division of people by the end of the eighteenth century comes into question. Multiple consequences of French Revolution led to a re-examination of the position of individuals and their active place in society. However, divisions in classes were no longer inherited, but the material statuses of families were. It was possible to climb the class ladder, but with great effort and difficulty. The influence of Romanticism on new generations and their evolving individuality has led to new reflections on the position of individuals in wider society. However, changes were slow and difficult because the vast majority of lower classes were not educated or self-conscious – their identities were not active and they were alienated. But, by the end of the nineteenth century there were significant changes regarding status and position in the society of the lowest classes of workers and the exploited poor. A new, educated middle class bourgeoisie, retailer and industrialist is at the expense of expelling their workers and trying to bring social differences to a minimum. Middle class was afraid of people like Frederick. He is an example of a person, which cannot reconcile the inner personal moral convictions with social norms and patterns of behaviour. Frederick as an individual and character reviews the relationship of personal and social responsibility and, as a tragic heroic character, accepts his destiny. But a lot of authors have critiqued his mutiny, his mindset and some of his actions, which is the theme of the next chapter.
Critics on Frederick’s Mutiny
Michael T. DuBroy in his work ”A Reading of Symbolical Aspects of Mrs. Gaskell’s North and South” criticizes the mindset of Frederick and Margaret. Both characters express deep understanding of social injustices, but are, he claims, melodramatic and don’t think it thoroughly. ”Juxtaposed with the story of the riot is the tale of Frederick’s mutiny. Although the Union has been rejected, Frederick’s mutiny makes it clear that the strike itself is not unjustified” (Dubroy, 1977: 41). It should be noted that the post-romanticism literary realism, which Gaskell’s novel is a part of, is still unclear whether the heroes are to be realists or romantics. It is a reflection of the transition period of literature and society as a whole. ”Frederick is, in many ways, a rather melodramatic figure: the lost son who gallantly supported mutineers against the injustice of their captain and is exiled as a result. All that would be needed to complete his story would be belated recognition by the government, of the justice of his actions, and his safe return to England”, explains Dubroy, (1977: 73). The writer explains that modern views on Frederick’s mutiny were positive, but in the light of early Victorian age are impossible to comprehend. Frederick seems to be detached from his realism, since his strong moral convictions which he is passionate about, defy common sense and the early Victorian period sense of duty. The writer is a part of the society which transforms on a rapid, day to day basis, and cannot reconcile its inner moral convictions with fast-growing capitalist realism and exploitations of the poorest classes.
”He does not really care very much about getting a pardon, for he has set down new roots in Spain. Thus, in the world of reality, the heroic figure does not simply wait offstage until he returns in triumph; his life must continue and does continue. Denying his old life, he starts a new one. Frederick, therefore, serves to emphasize the gap between Margaret’s heroic aspirations and reality, a split crystallized in Margaret’s lie. Admirable as such intentions are, they have no place in the real world and cannot successfully function in real society. Frederick is really a passionate hero of melodrama, living in a far-away country, and leading a strangely different life from that of Margaret. He does not belong in the realities of Northern England in 1854”, states Dubroy (1977: 74). The personal tragedy of Frederick’s actions is that he has to start his life anew, change his entire identity and forget the past, including his family. The author criticizes his actions as products of passionate and unadvised thoughts which he explains as pure fiction, not as real actions of a true hero. To reinvent its own character in a remote, backward country, which Spain of the period was being considered as, must’ve been a dreadful perspective to pre-colonial Great Britain, a beacon of civilization and progress of the Industrial era.
Rebecca Parker Fedewa in her dissertation ‘Truth Telling: Testimony and Evidence in the Novels of Elizabeth Gaskell’ provides criticism of Frederick’s mutiny too. In her work, she criticizes and analyses the personal moralities of early Victorian age and those of collective mindset of that time. In the beginning of the age of individuality the author makes rebellious characters as examples of making things right no matter what the socially acceptable actions are. The sympathy and compassion with lower classes is just in its infancy, and is evolving through literature.
She (Parker Fedewa 2009: 175) says that ”the characters who live truthfully and show mercy to others are those whom Gaskell uses as models for her readers so that they may see others the way that she imagines God sees them. Thus, by showing compassion, the readers experience lasting change that is internal and that, potentially, has eternal ramifications. In her fiction, she sought to create exemplars of careful judgments, executed with compassion and an eye toward God. She writes of redeemable characters and for redeemable readers.” ”The question of acting on one’s own authority when faced with injustice, specifically when society will disapprove, ties together Mr. Hale, Frederick, and Margaret; as each negotiates how to deal with matters of conscience” (Parker Fedewa, 2009: 54). Each of the characters is actually facing their own conscience. Author highlighted the need of justifying actions in unjustified society through examples of personal morality and questioning social authority if needed.
By reviewing literature it can be concluded that the main critiques are that characters of that time make decisions and actions impulsively and without excessive reflection on the consequences, although their ultimate goal is a great one; to change the society as a whole and start and era of social justice.
In the end it can be concluded that this novel gives an example of moral re-examination of the new middle class and also serves as a warning for actions that are not thought through. However, it gives the example of actions, no matter how reckless, that are fair and for a great cause – for change, which is an aspiration of all writers from that time. Bearing in mind that the novel was intended for the educated part of the society, both the high and middle classes, messages of individual responsibility and moral conviction towards the overall society are obvious. Changes in social justice issues, as usual, come from those who were able to make those changes, in cooperation with the lowest classes and the education of the poor and the needy. Frederick is a romantic, tragic Byronian hero whose actions can only be appreciated in retrospect, which probably was the intention of Elizabeth Gaskell.
The Ups and Downs of Gender Roles in North and South
Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South is a tale of contradictions. Looking at the title, it presents the obvious, the distinctions between the northern rural industrial towns and the southern high-class cities. If we take a closer look, the novel also proposes the expectations and challenges of the different genders. Most women in the high social class of the Victorian era had two solemn duties: marry a rich man with a title and have plenty of children. But it wasn’t always a picnic for the men either, they also had high-demanding requirements. From finding a suitable wife and starting a family, to entering a career in politics or business. There weren’t a lot of options for women of this era, but things started to change when the novel North and South was released by Elizabeth Gaskell as a serial in 1854. Gaskell protests the ideas of gender in the Victorian era by creating the character, Margaret Hale, who had classic feminine aspects of generosity and kindness and the typical male qualities of strength and independence.
The idea of “separate spheres” overruled Victorian convictions about the roles of gender, stating that these positions among males and females were set in stone and not to be defied. Public life, including work, is within the masculine realm, while private life, such as domestication, lies within the feminine. The lady of the house was often viewed as the ‘The Angel in the House,” she was responsible for all things good and simple. The man was considered to be the “protector” who put a roof over his family’s heads and kept food on the table. The public sphere was considered critically immoral, and disaster occurred when the characters, especially heroines, did not bend to the will of society’s standards.
This very concept is challenged in North and South. Margaret Hale is compelled to accept a masculine role by organizing her family’s move from Helstone, and taking her father’s role when announcing the news to her mother. She also takes on much of the responsibility for the family in the industrial town Milton, such as finding a new home for them to inhabit and breaking the news of her husband’s death to Mrs. Boucher because her father is afraid. Margaret learns to be independent because much of the weight falls to her shoulders. She also exhibits bravery by standing against the mob to protect Mr. Thornton and having to lie to the police about Frederick’s return to England for their mother’s funeral.
Mr. Thornton, without denying his masculinity, demonstrates compassion and tenderness. Though he hides this from public view, it’s shown in his care towards his mother and his quiet attention to the Hales. When he found out that Mrs. Hale was critically ill, he went out of his way to purchase and bring expensive fruits to their home to lift her spirits. He shows off these traits more as he develops relations with his workers by visiting Nicholas Higgins’ home, making arrangements for the work environment to be safer, and eating with the men. Mr. Thornton is also judged by society and seen as cruel because he holds his employees to strict policy so that his mill can remain successful. Although, he probably wouldn’t have done these things if it hadn’t been for Margaret’s influence on him, which goes to show that women were not incompetent when presenting their thoughts and ideas.
Another man in the novel that demonstrates tenderness and compassion, which were typically thought to be feminine traits, was the hard but thoughtful, Nicholas Higgins. Higgins assumes the responsibility for raising the Boucher children after the death of their parents and exhibits maternal tenderness and strength with dignity. In Volume II, chapter eleven, when Mr. Thornton visits the Higgins’ home to acquire for Nicholas about work, he sees the Boucher children and asks Nicholas if they belong to him, in which he replies, “They’re not mine, and they are mine.” This indicates that Mr. Higgins also broke the social norm by taking in the Boucher children instead of letting them become orphaned.
Margaret is different from the other women of her era, because she does not oblige to the rules of society, and it’s unfortunate because she is highly criticized for her inspiring actions. For example, when she accompanied Frederick to the train station to make sure he got away safely, she was then chastised by Mrs. Thornton because her son, out of jealousy, assumed Margaret had a lover. By being alone with a young man at night she is disobeying the high standards of society for a young woman in her position, even though her true motives were too risky to admit. Another time this is presented in the novel is when Margaret throws herself in front of the mob to protect Mr. Thornton, and of course, he automatically assumes it’s because she cares romantically for him. Even when she proceeded to tell him on page 194 in Volume I, chapter twenty-four, “It was only a natural instinct; any woman would have done just the same. We all feel the sanctity of our sex as a high privilege when we see danger.”
While Gaskell created characters that challenged the concept of “separate spheres,” both the women and men of the Victorian era were enslaved to the requirements ordained by their social classes.
Margaret Hale is seen as a striking character in the novel because she startles her peers with her insistence and stubborn attitude, while also having an ability to make others feel weak under her gaze. But why is she seen as an odd but revolutionary heroine? It is because she defied the aspects that are considered to be a traditional female in high Victorian society. The “Victorian Woman” was known to be timid, proper, and in continuous need of male leadership. Gaskell confronted the gender norms of her day with the characterization of Margaret Hale, who did not fit in with society’s ideas about how women should behave. An example of a character in this novel that fits the “true Victorian woman” persona is represented by Margaret’s mother Mrs. Hale. The wife of the ex-clergyman was certainly submissive, showing innocence and dullness. Even though she was outraged by her husband’s decision to move the family to Milton, she put aside her disputes and followed him just as an ideal wife should.
Women of this era, as well as men, had to be considerate when making decisions, because the choices they made about marriage and relationships, gravely affected their futures. One standard, in particular, for the fitting behavior and features of women, was presented in a poem by Coventry Patmore. In his poem, “Angel in the House” (1854) in which he immortalized his “perfect” Victorian wife. He details the traits and habits that an ideal woman should obtain, and the dedication she must give her husband. A good woman was dutiful to the home and the family, and a man could only reach his full capacity with the encouragement and comfort of his wife.
The one trait in which women possess that men do not, is of course, the capability to have children. Often, women were only valued for their ability to birth children and were seen as a means for producing heirs. It was the social precedent that a woman’s role, was first and foremost, to bring children into the world. Victorian standards for women of this time were quite narrowed. The expectations of women and what they expected of themselves was actually very little. In the 19th century, in order to maintain uniformity of the home and family, the “ideal” woman must be submissive; something Margaret Hale is far from. Which is represented by her rejecting not one, but two marriage proposals, speaking her mind to Mr. Thornton about his behavior towards his workers, and refusing to put up with Mrs. Thornton as she criticizes Margaret for actions, she herself did not even witness. It was the husband’s job to make important decisions for both himself and the family, and their wives were to obey his decisions. Along with Margaret, there was also another female character in the novel who did not follow the traditional ideals of a Victorian woman. The snobbish and demanding Mrs. Thornton.
Mrs. Thornton disregards the gender norms in the absence of her husband. She defends and leads her family, including her son, in whom she teaches to be careful and to be thoughtful about the future. From her sacrifice and divergence from the typical, John grew up to be a successful and prosperous businessman.
While women may have always gotten the short end of the stick, men, (who had more options than women) didn’t have everything handed to them on a silver platter. Just as men had high expectations for the ideal Victorian woman, the women along with the rest of society, also had great assumptions for an exemplary Victorian man. Men, not only had to earn a woman’s respect before marriage, but they also had to impress the rest of her family as well as their social class. Males were also victims of social pressures because their peers also analyzed them for their accomplishments. In the novel, Mr. Thornton came from a poor background and worked his way up to his position as a successful mill owner. Even though he earned his position among society, instead of inheriting it, he is still criticized by his class and Margaret especially, because he holds his employees to strict policy and pays them what he sees as a “fair wage,” which strikes the Milton townspeople as harsh and cruel.
Victorian men were not only competing for respect within their own sex, but they also needed to impress the females as well. If they weren’t married, they were seen as degrading, because they had no family to provide for. Supporting a family was a sign of true success within the male sex. Being able to work through hardships and succeed financially while providing for the family, emulated that a man was accomplished in the workforce as well. This made him respectable by his company as well as other men in society.
North and South present the hardships for both men and women in all classes, which is one of the reasons the book is so influential and well known.
Elizabeth Gaskell lived in a time where everything was separated by gender and class. Her novel formerly appeared in twenty weekly episodes from September 1854 to January 1855 in Household Words, edited by Charles Dickens. Gaskell originally wanted to title the novel “Margaret Hale,” but Dickens, who imposed on the title “North and South” thought it would make more sense because the book deals with the difference in lifestyle between the rural southern and the industrial north of England. Even though Gaskell, the author, often titled her novels the names of her heroines, she was still a woman and had to oblige to the decisions of her male superiors.
The Victorian era was not an easy time, for women or men, of all classes. If it hadn’t been for inspiring writers such as Gaskell, and heroines like Margaret Hale, women of this era would not have had the courage to bring attention to the issues of the time that were plaguing them. The author creates a collection of different female role models within her novel and makes it known that the conventional principles about women were not the only ones possible. Gaskell’s text argues these traditions by creating characters that influenced women that they can be both successful and lead a happy life. Although this novel does administer the differences in life and class between the north and south of England during the Industrial Revolution, it also draws attention to the real hardships that women and men of this time dealt with every day. Margaret Hale is a character that people can relate to, not just because she is a woman, but because she is human, and no matter what class or “sphere” we belong to, everyone has to face the issues and challenges that life constantly tosses us.
New Generation of Women in Gaskell’s North and South
Writing a Stronger and Equal Woman
At the turn of the nineteenth century, England entered a phase thereafter known as the “Victorian Era.” Following this new era was a tide of change, especially with the rise of industrialization and the class of mill and factory workers. These changes also constituted a beginning of the redefinition of women’s roles in society and rights. However, with the establishment of new standards, women once more felt the need to challenge their genders’ stereotypes. One way a female writer in the Victorian era could dispute these conventional images was through her writing, which is how Elizabeth Gaskell had a mind to behave.
Elizabeth Gaskell sought to capture life – the lives of Victorian women of all classes and social standings, including those who worked in the laboring class. According to Snodgrass, Gaskell also wanted to reproduce the “duality of women as individuals and as wives and mothers.” One of her longer pieces of fiction, the novel North and South, is a Condition of England or industrial novel, writings which attempt to expose social conditions heralded by the industrialization and urbanization of Britain, as well as proposing resolutions (Barratt). In fact, according to Wiehe, because Gaskell detailed “faithfully…the relation between women and marriage, the struggle for self-achievement, and the intermixture of women’s careers and public history,” her works have been closely examined, and she has been raised to the place of a major Victorian novelist. Elizabeth Gaskell was also a feminist activist, as she wrote proposals for the Establishment for Invalid Gentlewomen, helped relief work during famines, and supported emigration of women to North America (Snodgrass). In her literary works, the influence of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, her own feminist activity, and the beliefs that women are rational and responsible are very clear in the character of North and South’s Margaret Hale.
Margaret Hale is clearly the heroine of North and South, and through her heroine, Elizabeth Gaskell challenges the predetermined stereotypical woman. At her Helstone home, Mr. Henry Lennox proposes to Margaret. However, she immediately refuses him, feeling that “In another moment the strong pride that was in her came to conquer her sudden agitation…Of course she could answer, and answer the right thing; and it was poor and despicable of her to shrink from hearing any speech, as if she had not power to put an end to it with her high maidenly dignity,” (Gaskell 472). With this insight into her character, Margaret reveals that the only correct answer to this marriage proposal is rejecting it. This displays a change from marrying for security to marrying for love and interest. Readers also become aware of Margaret’s self-respect and “maidenly dignity” – another change from her meeker and milder female counterparts. According to Grasso, Margaret’s rejection is surprising for two reasons. The first is that a young woman is rejecting a man of good standing, and secondly, “she does so without parental consent or involvement and this notion is anything but Victorian.” In fact, once the Hales move to Milton and have fallen socially and economically, wherein Margaret “has to take over much of the financial decision making from her father” to ensure their survival, she receives another marriage proposal from Mr. John Thornton, a successful mill owner (Barratt). However, she rejects him as well, again at a young age and without the knowledge of her parents. Although a typical Victorian woman would have accepted either proposal, whether or not they actually loved the man who had proposed, Gaskell’s decision to have Margaret break these social conventions displays how she herself was viewing the change in women of the Victorian Era, and how she envisioned their change in personality and demeanor changing. According to Wiehe, Maragaret’s rejections “show[s] marriage from a woman’s viewpoint and not simply as an escape, a bid for social status, or a profitable contract.” In Margaret’s exchanges with Mr. Thornton, she is not afraid to argue with him, match his arguments point for point, or speak her mind. In a discussion of the ways of life in the North compared to the South, Margaret tells Mr. Thornton that, “‘[He is] mistaken,’ said Margaret, roused by the aspersion on her beloved South to a fond vehemence of defence, that brought the colour into her cheeks and the angry tears into her eyes,” (Gaskell 1424). Gaskell does not remove Margaret’s femininity in order to make her equal to a man; instead, she paints Margaret’s emotions as strong feelings that she is unashamed to argue for. Grasso comments that “Gaskell departs from traditional gender roles by showing Margaret as woman who is able to hold intelligent conversation about that matter of industry and the national economy, not restricted to conversations about trends in fashion or who is available for marriage.” Not only does Gaskell show that women have minds, but minds capable of understanding deeper and worldly subjects. Margaret is also not afraid to speak her mind, creating a more vocal non-conventional woman. However, Northern culture versus Southern culture is not the only topic on which Margaret and Mr. Thornton debate. Because Mr. Thornton is a mill owner, and Bessy, Margaret’s friend poisoned by the cotton fluff of a mill, Margaret and Thornton dispute the treatment of the laborers. In a twist of fate towards the novel’s close, Mr. Thornton’s mill falls upon financial ruin because of his efforts to improve the workers’ conditions, upon Margaret’s suggestions. Margaret’s parents both pass away, and she becomes the benefactor of Mr. Bell – actually becoming Thornton’s landlord. Barrat claims that “Gaskell’s plot demonstrates that men need women, and that women can have and should have responsible financial power to invest in a better society.” Again, Gaskell is redefining women’s role in society. Instead of being subordinate to men, men and women are equals, and women have every right to work hard to actually become superior to their male counterparts financially and economically. In Margaret’s case, Barratt states that “Women have a readier sympathy to face the suffering and plight of the workers and their families, and for then, this is part if the remaking of society.” An important characteristic Gaskell writes in Margaret’s character is that Margaret does not have to become more masculine to be considered a man’s equal. Margaret’s strength of character comes from her conviction for the stability of people of less economic and financial. The traditional derogatory stereotype of a woman’s softness being her downfall is firmly rebuked with Margaret’s usage of her emotions to fuel her causes. Barratt concludes by saying that Margaret “is developed as a complex heroine, expanding traditional gender roles.”
Although Margaret is North and South heroine, Gaskell creates other female characters that break the typical female standard. Mrs. Hale is described as having “‘Married for love, [so] what can dearest Maria have to wish for in this world?’” (Gaskell 240) Initially, Mrs. Hale does not conform to the Victorian female ideal because she married a poor parish preacher for love – making her own choice to marry beneath her social standing, although many claimed that with her beauty, she could have easily married a richer man of a higher class. Mrs. Hale’s unconventional strength as woman is also demonstrated when she supports her husband’s decisions, her son’s exile after overthrowing a tyrannical navy captain, and enduring through he terminal illness, even concealing it from Margaret and her husband to the best of her ability. In fact, Margaret does her mother proud after Dr. Donaldson tells her of her illness, as he comments, “‘That’s what I call a fine girl…Who would have thought that little hand could have given such a squeeze? … What a queen she is! With her head thrown back at first, to force me into speaking the truth” (Gaskell 2260). Another strong female character is Mrs. Thornton, the mother of John Thornton. After her husband speculated wildly and committed suicide to avoid the shame, Mrs. Thornton moves John and his sister Fanny. She saves the money that they make, and is eventually able support John and allow him to elevate himself to the place of a mill owner. She also took on the uncommon role of working on the mill floor and supervising the workers. John proudly states that throughout their hard life, his mother “‘is not given to complaints.” (1655). Although Mrs. Thornton can come across as harsh, her sturdiness and resilience is the only reason why her family was able to survive after her husband bequeathed crippling debt. Mr. Thornton’s high regard and respect for his mother also stands as a testament to her character, as they have a special relationship and understanding, in which “The very daringness with which mother and son spoke out unpalatable truths, the one to the other, showed a reliance on the firm centre of each other’s souls,” (Gaskell 1663). Just as Margaret does Mrs. Hale proud, Mrs. Thornton’s durable personality is a contract to the typical weak woman prone to fainting that is often depicted. Grasso comments that “both women have been strengthened by the hardships in their lives, benefiting from adversity rather than being shielded from it as middle-class Victorian domestic hierarchy would have tended to do.” Nevertheless, Gaskell introduces flat female characters of the typical domestic variety – Margaret’s cousin, Edith and John’s sister, Fanny. However, Gaskell does not applaud them in anyway, instead they are portrayed as “dependent and concerned with frivolous matters…but not having much purpose in life.” Edith is mainly concerned with her preparations of her marriage with Captain Lennox, and Fanny ultimately simply marries a wealthier, older man to secure her position in life. Through these supporting characters, Elizabeth Gaskell highlights the traits of the changes in the more worldly and equal women, as well as condones to stereotypical weak women of the Victorian era.
Through her heroine Margaret Hale, as well as the supporting characters of Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Thornton, Elizabeth Gaskell is able to write a generation of new women – women who are equal, if not superior, to their male counterparts, who are re unafraid to speak their minds, and endure strongly in their trying situations, instead of simply painting a pretty picture of the stereotypical Victorian woman. However, Gaskell also does incorporate the epitome of the superficial, domestic housewife to keep balance. Nevertheless, she depicts them as weaker characters with not much purpose. Through North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell was able to create strong female characters to model the strength and resilience women do posses and should be able to express, giving hope both to herself and to her readers. Gaskell’s works also give hope to her readers that women’s place in society has improved much, and that through our own writings, we can envision and create a better, stronger, and more equal world.
Views on Slavery in Gaskell’s North and South
A lot of the white settler’s views on slavery were based on where they resided: the south or north. The south contained a lot more slavery as they were a lot less strict with their views on the slaves and how they treated them. Due to these strict rules, some slaves were triggered to rebel. This was shown through a slave, Nat Turner. Nat Turner was a preacher and slave who sowed fields. One night he took a hatchet to his owner and led many other African American men around the neighborhood doing the same to many others. He believed this was his calling to lead his people to freedom. This uprising was said to have illustrated the discontent and agitation that most slaves had in the south. Due to this huge event, it strengthened the slave system and made the white people of Virginia take legislative measure. These rebellions also influenced changes in master’s views on their slaves.
Rebecca Felton was a woman who owned several slaves. She viewed her slaves as just another item to deal with in her responsible, busy life and that they were often passive and lazy. Felton wrote that, “The African in the slave-holding states did not rise up in defense of democracy or human freedom when the Federal armies of the North had overrun and subjugated the slave-owning Southern Confederacy” (Ripper, 2008, 227) She saw African Americans as not having the effort or ability to fight for their own freedom. Although Felton had these thoughts and views on slaves she eventually gained insight and suggested that holding people as slaves were not right. She viewed that if there were no slaves than there would be no war.
In the North slavery was a lot less acceptable slaves, and this was partially due to slaves constantly striving for freedom. They were able to gain freedom, as shown through Solomon’s life. Slaves were able to have, “marriage, sometimes separate-if-meager incomes, specialized skills, dances, unique medical practices, churches to attend, and more.” (Ripper, 2008, p.232). Solomon was a slave in the North but had many other benefits and accessibilities than slaves in the South. He was still able to have a life alongside his normal slave duties. This was a lot different than slaves in the south, as they had minimal rights and freedoms.
The views on slavery were a lot different in the North vs the South and this greatly influenced how quickly white settler’s views changed on the topic.
The North and the South – “Antebellum” Differences
When contrasting the North and South in the antebellum period, you must consider the differences in major areas: climate, geography, population, cities, economy, culture and transportation.The South has a climate that is generally warm and sunny, with long, hot, humid summers, and mild winters, with heavy rainfall. Additionally, the soil is plentiful, rich, and full of nutrients. These traits make the Southern climate ideal for large-scale agriculture and the ability to grow many different crops in large amounts. Geographically, the Southeast is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and had many broad, slow moving, navigable rivers. Cities developed along these rivers and as ports (for ships) along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain is an area of fertile, rich soil and swamps. To the west of the Atlantic Coast Plain is the Piedmont, another area of good farmland and forests. The population of the South was made up of Europeans (mostly of English and Scotch-Irish descent) and enslaved Africans. By 1860, there were 4 million slaves in the American South, making the United States the largest slave-holding republic in the world. To put it another way, the total population of the South reached 12 million, one third of whom were slaves. The South was an overwhelmingly agricultural region, made up mostly of farmers. Most farmers lived in the backcountry (away from large towns or cities) on medium sized farms, while a small number of planters ran large farms, or plantations. Only one fourth of the Southern population owned slaves, and most of these were the planters who owned only a small number of slaves. The rest of the population was made up of white independent (non-slaveholding) farmers, tenant farmers (who rented land and paid the landowners in crops or money), laborers, or frontier families who moved to the region for inexpensive land. As noted, most Southerners lived on farms scattered along the coastal plains (near the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico), as well as small farmers in the backcountry. Since the economy was based on agriculture, industries and towns developed at a slower pace than in the North. There were many small towns along the banks of rivers and the coasts. Only a few large cities developed as trading centers in the South (New Orleans, for example), but these were few in number, and smaller than in the North. Plantations were so large and so distant from each other that they became almost self sufficient, like small towns.
Since the Southern economy was based on agriculture, crops such as cotton, tobacco, rice, sugarcane, and indigo (a type of dye) were grown in great quantities. These crops were known as “cash crops” ones that were raised not to be used by the farmer, but to be sold or exported for a profit. They were raised in the greatest numbers on large farms, known as plantations, which were supported by slave labor. After Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, cotton took over as “king” of the southern economy. The cotton gin was a machine that separated the seed from the cotton fiber much faster than it could be done by hand. This made the value of each individual slave increase, and made slavery more profitable. To clear land and grow cotton, Southerners started using slave labor more and more. Slavery was essential for the prosperity of the Southern economy.
Thus, both slavery and the cotton industry began to develop rapidly, spreading over many parts of the South. In 1793, Southern farmers produced about 10,000 bales of cotton, but by 1835, thanks to the cotton gin and the increased use of slaves, they were growing over 1,000,000 bales. By the mid-1800s, cotton exports made up two thirds of the total value of American exports. Since the South had little manufacturing itself, the Southerners wanted cheap imports, or goods, from overseas. Likewise, since they exported most of their cotton and tobacco overseas themselves, most Southerners believed that high tariffs, or taxes on imported goods, would scare away the foreign markets that bought their crops. For these reasons the South was against tariffs.
Culture and Life in the South revolved around the small, wealthy class of planter and the agricultural system they controlled. Planters were the aristocracy, or upper-class, of the South. They lived like country gentleman of England and ran the political and economic life of the South. Plantations were far apart and developed their own communities, much like small towns. Recreational activities included such things as fox hunting, dancing, horse racing, and watching dog or chicken fights. There were few schools or churches in the South, since neither education nor religion were very organized. The best educated were often the sons of rich planters. On plantations there were sometimes small schools, and often planters hired private tutors to each their children until they were sent off to private schools. Small farmers had little or no education.
Methods of long-distance transports, such as steamships and railroads, affected the South because products could more easily be sold to more distant markets by using them. By 1860 about 10,000 miles of railroad spread across the Southern states. While this was enough to sell Southern crops more easily, it still was not nearly as vast a railroad system as the North. Meanwhile, hundreds of steamboats moved Southern crops to the North and to European markets.
When contrasting the North and South in the antebellum period, you must consider the differences in major areas: climate, geography, population, cities, economy, culture and transportation. The North has a climate of warm summers and snowy cold winters. From a geographic standpoint, the terrain is rocky, hilly, making the soil poor for farming. These conditions along with a short growing season made farming difficult. As a result, most Northern farms were “subsistence” farms, or personal farms where farmers grew food or supplies for themselves or their families. Most of the forest was made up of trees that would be used for shipbuilding. There are many sheltered bays and inlets on the Atlantic coast. Settlers found that ships could sail along wide rivers into many of these bays. Most of the rivers are fast, shallow, and hard to navigate. At a certain point, called the Fall Line—a plateau over which eastward-flowing rivers fell onto the western plains —the many waterfalls of most rivers made them no longer navigable. At the Fall Line many ships dropped their cargo. Cities, which served as trading centers, grew up at these points. Soon people realized that the waterfalls were a cheap source of energy, and the water’s power began to be used to run factories.
The period between 1800 and 1860 brought rapid population growth throughout the United States. In the North, the overall population rose from about 5 million people to 31 million during these 60 years. Part of this increase was due to massive immigration. Between 1830 and 1850 along, over 2 million Irish, German and other northern Europeans arrived in the United States. Most of them settled in the North, where for many of them, it was easy to get a job. Also, unlike the South, where slaves made up almost 1/3 of the total population, most Northern states were “free states” that had not legally allowed the practice of slavery for years.
Cities in the North thrived as centers of business. They were set up along the Atlantic coast and served as centers of trade between the North and European nations. They were centers of manufacturing of textiles (cloth goods) and other products. Throughout the 1800s, many people from rural New England moved to the cities looking for employment opportunities. In 1800, about 5 percent of the population lived in cities, but by 1850, nearly 15 percent did. Increased trade and manufacturing drew many laborers to towns to work. As a result, however, cities were often crowded and dirty. Streets were narrow and unclean. Harbors for boats were not secured, and were poorly kept. Without public sanitation, many city dwellers poured waste or garbage into the streets. And without adequate police forces, crime rates grew. Not until after 1830’s were harbors and streets improved, sanitation systems were started, and police forces were created. Public services such as education began to take root. Northern cities became important centers of art, culture, and education. Most cities printed newspapers and books and provided many forms of recreation, such as dancing, card playing, and theater. The Northern economy was based on many different industries, including shipping, cloth textiles, lumber, furs, and mining. The majority of people who lived on small farms found that much of the land was suited for subsistence farming—raising food crops and livestock for family use—rather than producing goods to export, or send to other countries.
Northerners stated to use their “ingenuity” to manufacture all kinds of goods. For instance, the mills of Lowell, MA, used new technologies alongside new methods of production to increase the amount of wools and textiles they could produce. In addition, women first earned the opportunity to work outside of the home through these new mills and factories. With the use of waterpower and coal for steam plants, manufacturing developed quickly. Items such as textiles, iron, and ships were manufactured in great quantities. These goods were traded for foreign products, transported to and from all continents by trading ships. To protect its industries from foreign competition, the North favored high tariffs, or taxes on goods coming in from other countries. If taxes on foreign goods were higher, they would cost more when sold in the United States. As a result, U.S. manufacturers could compete with cheaper prices of goods from overseas. The growth of trade, manufacturing and transportation brought many changes to cities in the North. Cities took on an increasingly important role in determining the culture of the North. Unlike the South, Northern cities developed free of slavery, and allowed many opportunities for free African Americans. Merchants, manufacturers, wage earners, and new business owners also brought new ideas to the North. The majority of Northerners were Protestant Christians. Villages became strong centers of community activities. Both religion and education were organized in towns and cities in a way that the South had failed to do. Most towns had both schools and churches. Public education grew in the North, as well, after the 1830’s. More and more young men attended public schools. Still, colleges or universities were reserved mostly for the wealthy.
During the first half of the 1800’s, transportation vastly improved and the size of the United States more than doubled. By 1860 there were over 88,000 miles of surfaced (or paved) roads. Canals, mostly built in the North, were a cheap source of transportation. The Erie Canal was clearly a success for New York commercial activities. Many other cities began to follow suit and within a decade a system of over 3,000 canals provided water transportation between the Eastern seaboard and rivers in the West. Not long after the first railroad were laid, and by 1850, 30,000 miles of tracks connected distant parts of the United States. Most of the new rail lines were in the North.
Relations between North and South Korea
North Korea has accepted South Korea’s proposal for official talks in what will be the first high-level contact between the two countries in more than two years. North and South Korean athletes will march together at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony under a unified flag, the South said Wednesday, in a diplomatic breakthrough following days of talks between the two countries. The nations have also agreed to form a joint North and South Korean women’s ice hockey team for the Games in Pyeongchang, which begin early next month, South Korea’s unification ministry said. The unification ministry announced a range of joint activities between the countries for the Games, following talks Wednesday at the demilitarized zone (DMZ).North and South Korean skiers will train together at a resort in North Korea before the Olympics start, and performers from the two countries will also hold a joint cultural event at Mount Kumgang. North Korea will also send around 230 supporters to cheer on its athletes. A smaller delegation of North Korean athletes and supporters will attend the Paralympics, the ministry said.
The Korean Unification Flag features a blue silhouette of the peninsula and outlying islands. The two countries have marched under the flag before, in rare shows of unity, first at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships, and at a number of sporting events since. It was most recently used at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) would need to approve the countries’ agreements, and those that affect competition, such as the joint hockey team, could be more complicated than the ceremonial proposals. The committee said Wednesday it had received a number of “interesting proposals” that it would discuss with delegates from both countries in Switzerland on Saturday.“We are sure that the two Korean delegations will present their ideas and proposals at the meeting on Saturday in Lausanne. This will then enable the IOC to carefully evaluate the consequences and the potential impact on the Olympic Games and the Olympic competitions”, it said in a statement.
While the two sides have earned praise for ratcheting down military tensions in recent weeks, some of Seoul’s allies voiced concern Wednesday that Pyongyang may be using the talks to buy time to pursue its weapons program. The US military has moved more firepower to the region and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned of complacency at a Tuesday summit in Vancouver where the top diplomats from the United States, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom were in town to discuss North Korea.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono called on the international community to be clear-eyed about North Korea’s motivations for participating in the talks, which have been hailed by some as the most significant thaw in ties in years. “Both Koreas are primarily utilizing the talks for a limited objective arranging the participation of a North Korean delegation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics”, Park said.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the talks were a “significant step” but acknowledged the serious challenges ahead: “Despite these overtures to improve relations with the South, North Korea has yet to show any intention to fulfill its international obligations regarding denuclearization. “North Korea has remained adamant throughout this month’s thaw in relations with South Korea that its nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles are here to stay. Kim Hee Ryung, who works at a tourism information kiosk in Gangneung, the city which will be hosting the ice sports at the Games, complained: “They didn’t really consider the South Korean players. They prepared for years to be in the Olympics but now they cannot play. Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other Thursday to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions. It added that joint military drills with “outside forces” were unhelpful when better relations between North and South Korea were being sought. It came as the North’s ice hockey team – dressed in DPRK jackets – crossed the militarised border to form Korea’s first-ever unified team for next month’s Winter Olympics. North and South Korea will march under one flag as the joint team competes in Pyeongchang.
The Unification Flag, which features the entire peninsula and surrounding islands in blue on a white background, was last used in 2006 at the Winter Olympics in Italy. Athletes from the North and South will march together under one flag at the opening ceremony for the Games in Pyeongchang, which begin February 9. Athletes from North Korea will also participate in the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. The proposals from North and South Korea had to be approved by the IOC and Pyeongchang committee before they could go ahead.
North Korea will send 22 athletes who will compete in three sports, Bach said, following a meeting between delegations from the two Koreas and Olympic officials in Lausanne, Switzerland. Of the 22 North Korean athletes, 15 will be women and seven will be men, the IOC said. They will be accompanied by 24 coaches and 21 media representatives. Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other Thursday to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions.“This team will enter the Olympic Stadium under the Korean unification flag. I’m sure that this will be a very emotional moment not only for all Koreans but also for the entire world”, Bach said. He also confirmed that, for the first time in Olympic history, the two nations will enter a joint women’s ice hockey team under the name Korea. The athletes will compete in ice hockey, ice skating and skiing across five disciplines: ice hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing says the IOC. Bach said reaching this outcome “Was not an easy journey” but that he was proud of what the representatives of the two Koreas, the IOC and the Pyeongchang 2018 Organizing Committee had achieved their goal.
A dozen North Korean hockey players wearing white-and-red winter clothes crossed the heavily fortified border into South Korea earlier Thursday, as about 30-40 conservative activists shouted anti-Pyongyang slogans at a nearby border area. The North Koreans traveled on to a national athletes’ village in southern South Korea, where they were welcomed by their South Korean teammates and their Canadian coach Sarah Murray, who presented them flower bouquets in an outdoor welcoming ceremony. Pak Chol Ho, a North Korean coach who arrived with the 12 athletes and two support staff, told reporters that he’s happy to team up with South Koreans. “I’m very pleased with the fact that North and South are united as one to participate in the Olympics. I expect we’ll see good results if we unite our efforts though we don’t have much time”, he said. The Koreas fielded a single team to major sports events only twice, both in 1991. One event was the world table tennis championships and the other soccer’s World Youth Championship. But this is the first time they’ve assembled a single team for the Olympics.
The Koreas explored how to cooperate in the Olympics after the North’s leader Kim Jong Un abruptly said in his New Year’s address that he was willing to send an Olympic delegation. The International Olympic Committee has allowed 22 North Korean athletes, including the 12 hockey players, to compete in Pyeongchang in exceptional entries given to the North, which initially had none for the games. The joint hockey team deal has triggered a backlash in South Korea, with a survey showing about 70 percent of respondents opposing the idea because it would deprive South Korean players of playing time. The IOC-brokered agreement requires at least three North Korean players to suit up for each game, meaning that three from South Korea’s original roster cannot play in those games. The unified Korean team will open their group action against Switzerland on Feb. 10. It will then face Sweden on Feb. 12 and Japan on Feb. 14. What draws attention is its Japan match, as many in both Koreas still harbor bitter resentment against Japan’s 35-year colonial rule that ended in 1945, three years before two different governments were formally established on the Korean Peninsula.
North and South Korean athletes will march together at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony under a unified flag, the South said Wednesday, in a diplomatic breakthrough following days of talks between the two countries. The nations have also agreed to form a joint North and South Korean women’s ice hockey team for the Games in Pyeongchang, which begin early next month, South Korea’s unification ministry said. The unification ministry announced a range of joint activities between the countries for the Games, following talks Wednesday at the demilitarized zone (DMZ).North and South Korean skiers will train together at a resort in North Korea before the Olympics start, and performers from the two countries will also hold a joint cultural event at Mount Kumgang.
North Korea will also send around 230 supporters to cheer on its athletes. A smaller delegation of North Korean athletes and supporters will attend the Paralympics, the ministry said. South Korean supporters wave unified flags at the World Student Games in August 2003 in Daegu, South Korea. The Korean Unification Flag features a blue silhouette of the peninsula and outlying islands. The two countries have marched under the flag before, in rare shows of unity, first at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships, and at a number of sporting events since. It was most recently used at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) would need to approve the countries’ agreements, and those that affect competition, such as the joint hockey team, could be more complicated than the ceremonial proposals.
A Look at Different Views Concerning the North and South Vietnam Bombing
Was the bombing of North and South Vietnam effective? Why or why not? How does one define “effective’ from the American and Vietnamese perspective.
Around 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed, allowing for President Johnson use of any sort of military power without any formal declaration of war. This would subsequently lead to Operation Rolling Thunder, a series of attacks and bombings on Vietnam. The main purpose of the bombings was to demonstrate the United States’ air supremacy, and essentially show off their big guns to scare the Viet Cong. However, there was a limitation to such bombings, as the United States was restricted from what they could actually bomb in “fear of provoking a Soviet/Chinese response” (Trueman). Objectively, Operation Rolling Thunder had two main purposes: destroy the morale of the North Vietnamese, and prevent the flow of weapons and military from the North to the South (Valentine). The results were quite the opposite. In regards to United States casualties: “Due to operational circumstances, more than 900 U.S. aircraft were lost, 745 crewmen was shot down. According to an estimate by CIA, damage inflicted by U.S. bombardment in North Vietnam was about $370 million in physical destruction and 90,000 casualties, including 72,000 civilians” (Valentine). Even then, Operation Rolling Thunder would only further heighten morale in North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese would use the bombings as propaganda in order to foster more hatred and resentment against the United States. Additionally, the war would only be extended to the south, and the Viet Cong were well supplied. Ultimately, making the bombing of North Vietnam ineffective.
In terms of defining the effectiveness, one must evaluate the objectives of any sort of offensive campaign. In regards to the American perspective, it can be evaluated that the attacks were ineffective. This is because the main objectives of their campaign was to destroy Viet Cong morale and essentially show their military might. This was ineffective because it only fostered greater morale for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. The Viet Cong used these bombings as a tool to criminalize and depict the United States in an unfavorable light. This would mobilize both the already established followers of Ho Chi Minh as well as the peasants that were on the fence in supporting either the ARVN or the Viet Cong forces. This failure in achieving such an objective might even have been detrimental to the United States as it brought forth a greater resiliency of the Viet Cong to win in a war that they were greatly committed and passionate about. The second objective was to prevent and destroy further advancement into the South. This was obviously a failure as soon the Viet Cong would eventually launch a Tet Offensive and the Viet Cong forces would have no problem with getting into the south and infiltrating the establishments there. This was evidenced by Heyslip’s narrative, showing how the Viet Cong were prominent influences in changing the perspectives of the southern peasantry. Because the Americans did not fulfill their objectives, and ultimately their attacks would only lead to putting them in a worse position, these attacks can be evaluated as ineffective.
In regards to the Vietnamese perspective of “effectiveness”, Operation Rolling Thunder would be very great, only for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese forces, however. These bombings can be seen as “effective” simply because, the North Vietnamese only progressed further and grew even stronger as a result of the attacks. One of the biggest weapons the Viet Cong had was a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism, these two factors would fuel support in the war no matter how difficult it seemed for the Viet Cong. These attacks allowed them to create propaganda that would only further ignite this fuel and make it stronger. Therefore, from a Vietnamese perspective, the bombings were very effective in mobilizing support, perhaps not as effective as people ended up dying as a result. Thus in evaluating the Vietnamese perspective, one must consider the broader implications of such a result and see how the northern government capitalized on such bombings and what it did to the morale and the overall outcome of the war.
The Civil War between The Northern and Southern States of America
The civil War started in 1861 after 11 Southern states succeeded from the Union. The fight between The Northern and Southern States of America lasted until 1865. 680,000 to 800,000 men died. Slavery, States rights, Lincoln’s election, and the differences between the North and South caused the Civil War because they impacted Americans in a cultural, political, geographical, and sociological way. It seems only reasonable to start with the most prevalent cause of the civil war and that would be the cultural perspective of the Civil War. The South’s economy was based off farming.
In fact, many argue that at this time the South was a one crop-economy. Two-thirds of Southerners owned no slaves, but because of the persistent need to keep up the farms, slavery was embedded into the economy. Starting way before the war, many Southerners believed they were not getting enough states’ rights. This political problem is often debated on its importance; however, the topic did cause many arguments and violent altercations. “An episode that best depicts this sentiment was the aftermath of a scathing speech in June 1856 by an abolitionist U. S. Senator against the pro-slavery settlers in Kansas. Two days later, a Southern congressman walked into the Senate and severely beat the abolitionist with a gold walking cane.
Typically, this crime is punishable with a stiff fine and a time in jail. In the South, it made the congressman a hero, and inspired the following editorial in the Richmond Enquirer, a major Southern newspaper: “These vulgar abolitionists in the Senate are getting above themselves”, the editors wrote. “They have grown saucy and dare to be impudent to gentlemen! Now, they are a low, mean, scurvy set, with some little book learning, but as utterly devoid of spirit or honor as a peck of curs”. “…The truth is that they have been suffered to run too long without collars”.
“They must be lashed into submission…Let them once understand that for every vile word spoken against the South, they will suffer so many stripes, and they will soon learn to behave themselves, like decent dogs – they can never be gentlemen…” (Causes of the American Civil War). This quote perfectly sums up a lot of fights that took place as the tension grew between the North and South. Nonsense fights, and newspapers full of harsh words were everywhere. “Douglas, a leading Democrat in Congress, had pushed through the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which declared that the voters of each territory, rather than the federal government, had the right to decide whether the territory should be slave or free,” (Abraham Lincoln). A large contributor to the Civil War had to do with the differences between the North and South, and the disputes that later took place because of them. In the Northern states industry was growing more prevalent, and soon became the groundwork of their economy.
The north also had the advantage with more abundant natural resources. Differences soon started to become apparent in 1860 when a quarter of all Northerners lived in urban areas while only one-tenth of Southerners lived in urban areas. Between 1800 and 1860 the percentage of laborers working in agriculture dropped from 70% to 40%. The Southern states providing most of that with 80% of their work force on the farm.