North And South By Elizabeth Gaskell Essay

1935 Words Aug 20th, 2015 8 Pages
Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, North and South, sets the values of Southern England against those of the North in order to examine the principles of Victorian life through its public and private spheres. Gaskell’s characters inhabit a world that is complicated by social change, and through Margaret Hale, the novel’s protagonist, Gaskell is able to compare these spheres and consider the ways in which they become connected. In her article, “The Female Visitor and the Marriage of Classes in Gaskell’s North and South” Dorice Williams Elliott identifies Margaret’s role in the novel as that of a mediator who bridges the public and private spheres. She believes Margaret’s participation in the “social conversations, industrial debates and ideologies of marriage” (Schor qtd Elliott 24) helps construct what she and Bodenheimer both refer to as the social sphere.
The public sphere belonged to the masculine world of business and politics and in the Victorian era, was extending into diverse activities and interests such as education, science and art. Although not all men had equal access to any or all of these areas, they still came under the public spectrum, as they were different to those deemed private because of their association with women. The private sphere offset the public sphere as it connected morality and spirituality to the feminine domesticity of the home. The social sphere however, was relatively new and “blurred the boundaries between them” (Elliott 26). It was public in the…

Related Documents