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In what ways does Elizabeth Gaskell (the Author), set the tone for the rest of the novel in the opening chapter of North and South?

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In what ways does Elizabeth Gaskell (the Author), sets the tone for the rest of the novel in the opening chapter of North and South? In the novel North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell, is unique because the opening of it, contrasts greatly with the rest of the novel. One of the reasons for this could be that since the book was originally printed in cereal, the author had to make the beginning pact with information in a short period of time in order to keep the readers interested. Something else that proves the book was written in cereal form is that each chapter is titled. The very first chapter of this book happens to be called "Haste to the Wedding"; this is an effective title because it attracts the reader to read further, because weddings are always considered to be something interesting. The novel opens with the characters Margaret and Edith in the drawing room in Harley Street. This means that there is money involved with the girls. Since Harley Street was a very fashionable and expensive place to live n London, this proves that at least one of the two characters comes from a family with money and class. They had grown up together from childhood, and all along Edith has been remarked upon by everyone, except Margaret, for her prettiness; but Margaret had never thought about it until the last few weeks. The quote above demonstrates Gaskell's writing style of giving the reader a lot of information in a short amount of time. ...read more.


Another thing to notice with the quotation is the sarcasm and irony. Mrs. Shaw assumes that Edith is marrying for love, but in fact that both of them are too spoiled and self centered to really grasp the meaning and feeling of what true love is. Elizabeth Gaskell is known in the world of Literature, for opposing the treatment of the lower classes in England during the Industrialization Era. Although in the first chapter, there are little references to what is going to take place later on in the novel with Margaret going to the North and the huge culture difference, Gaskell often drops subtle hints and clues of how oblivious the upper class is of the hardships of the lower class' lives. This is effective, because this provides a reader with such a great contrasts between both worlds that it makes the underlining message of the book that more powerful. Early on in the first chapter, there is a scene where Mrs. Shaw is telling the other ladies at the wedding breakfast about the shawls that Edith will inherit from India. Helen had set her heart upon an Indian shawl, but really, when I found what an extravagant price was asked, I was obliged to refuse her. She will be quite envious when she hears of Edith having Indian shawls. What kind are they? Delhi? with the lovely little borders? This quotation fits in with the theme of how oblivious the upper classes where of people of the working class, especially out of the country. ...read more.


A very important word in that quote is "effect". This is another implication by the author that the couple (Captain Lennox and Edith), aren't really in love. What is being argued here is that usually people who really love each other will not make such a huge fuss of their wedding, because if you are in love all that matters is the presence of your partner in the ceremony. Once, again, this provides the reader with a contrast between Margaret and the Shaws and is a reminder to the marriage theme. By reading the first chapter of this novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, it is relevant that she was a woman that was ahead of her times. Her sympathy of the lower classes and her humour towards the upper classes was not very common in the everyday beliefs of the people of that era. Gaskell was also a strong believer that there shouldn't be such a cultural ignorance towards each class, which is very much a theme in North and South and is hinted many times in the first chapter. Even though there is an extreme contrast between the first chapter and the rest of the book, the first chapter serves more of a basis of comparison. In order for Gaskell to get her point across of how we should sympathize and "put ourselves in other people's shoes", she would have had to also mention the lives of the rich in order to make the reader aware of the huge difference between the rich south and the impoverished industrialized north; hence the title North and South. Daniela Germano English Lit- A Level Sept. 17th, 2003 ...read more.

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