When I was about to begin today, I suddenly had an idea of delaying doing my daily job to resume reading ‘North and South’. I remembered only 50 pages left till the novel came to a close. Reading the novel would be the best thing to entertain my mind before writing things on gadget and technology.
The simple mission was going a bit further as I was on the reading process. My mind said, “Why didn’t I finish it once and for all?” I couldn’t help dealing with pain and sadness coming on the life of Margaret Hale over and over again in the course of months.
So, the final reading process was a bit on freeing myself from reading the problems faced by the heroine. Another aspect was being curious how she and John Thornton finally end up in happiness.
The book does put my mind at ease. In fact, the finale relieves me like no other previous books ever do. Elizabeth Gaskell’s description on the life of Margaret isn’t as extremely heartbreaking as Thomas Hardy’s Tess. In Tess’s ill-fated life, Hardy depicts her journey as very saddening, too much to handle within a book. Her story stresses me out.
Hale’s life is as dark as Tess in different ways, though. Tess’s problems mostly deal with romance, public view on her virginity and how she reclaims her dignity. Margaret Hale’s is more complicated and diverse. I can’t say the deaths of her parents as problems, by the way. That’s the way how life is, every human being will pass away sooner or later.
Margaret Hale’s tender and kind heart puts her in difficult situations for she can’t ignore the poor around her in Milton. The problem is, as the book progress, she has to “enlighten” Nicholas Higgins, a rebellious, alcoholic worker. The scene where she and his daughter, Bessy, share conversations until the latter dies peacefully, cuts me to the heart. After Bessy dies, Margaret Hale takes Nicholas to her father, once a parson. She even recommends him looking for a job to John Thornton.
I guess that’s the way she has to pay for all the care that she has for the poor and poverty around her. I mean like, she could have shut her eyes, right? I thought this part would take little portions of the book but that wasn’t the fact. Sometimes I wonder why didn’t Gaskell place more romantic scenes between Margaret and John for the sake of refreshment.
I thought, too, as Margaret left Milton for staying with Edith and her aunt, what was left to be revealed was how she and John reunited then lived happily. And I was curious how that would happen because of Margaret’s undesirable to get married to any man and John’s decision not to force his feeling upon her.
How wrong was I then! After the death of her father, Margaret was even more sentimental and miserable. She could cry every now and then remembering all the things that went so fast. She was very sad after knowing her brother, Frederick, couldn’t come back to England because of his mutiny problem. I couldn’t imagine her emotional turmoil, especially when she heard her father passed away. She was numb; her mind was going nowhere even when her aunt, Mrs. Shaw, was talking to her.
When she was buried so deep in sadness, her godfather, Mr. Bell, came and soothed her feeling. I was amazed by the bond between the two for Mr. Bell was very caring to her although they didn’t meet frequently. He then invited her to revisit Hellstone and met some people there. I myself really loved this type of plot because I believe that in life, to brush off lingering pain left hidden in the heart, one must go back to the place where everything starts off. Once, this will make them realize they are brave enough to feel the wound again. Secondly, doing this will somehow make the scar no longer that painful. And third, who knows that things change for the better.
I was surprised that the third one occurred to her. I was happy when reading this part although, yes, in the beginning Margaret recalled all memories, especially when she was inside the parsonage, her home for 20 years. But as she was feeling the pain, she noticed things changed for the better, nothing stayed the same. Not even the flowers. I love how Gaskell put a lot of nature elements here to encourage her living the life again in good light.
Just when I fancied the very last thing to be waiting for was the part of her and John another blow hit me quite hard; the sudden death of Mr. Bell. I was gloomy again because I had a sympathy for this character. And no.. she was sad, again and again.
The last ever problem was the bankruptcy of John’s business. Again, I loved the scene where he and his mother was conversing so deeply when things were going so tough. Their love was beautiful to be imagined.
As the novel was two or three pages left, it was really the part of Margaret-John remained to be seen (oh finally). They met unintentionally in a dinner hosted by Edith. It was Edith who invited John via Henry Lennox. So they met but not many words exchanged between the two.
After Margaret knew his failed business, she was willing to give him some unused money she had from Mr. Bell. There, they couldn’t stand of feeling the love. Not many flowery words or whatsoever. They just knew they were meant to share what they had kept, the longing for each other, at that very moment.
Thus, the book ended. Hence, the problems stopped. Now, I can breathe deeply for eventually I don’t lose that magic speed reading for books I completely admire, like this one, and no more matters for Margaret. Thank you very much, Elizabeth Gaskell.