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"North and South" depends on contrasts for its momentum. Discuss.

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"North and South" depends on contrasts for its momentum. Discuss. Gaskell is a very capable writer; she uses many skills to create atmosphere, tension and emotion in her book. However, to create the energy in her stories that makes her stand out as a writer, she uses contrast in many different forms The locations in the story contrast with each other, reflecting different stages in life of Margaret. In London, where she first starts off, it is polite, reserved and superficial. Her life there is complacently indolent. When she moves back to Helstone, we see it is still very leisurely and languid, but there is a solid and healthy feel to it. She then goes to Milton, which is in complete contrast. Here it is a very functional town; everyone is preoccupied and determined. There is more a feeling of energy about the people, it is a centre for new ideas, but it is also very dirty, smoggy and cold compared to the green of Helstone. In chapter 8 we see a clear contrast in Edith's letter from Corfu, describing a hot, clean atmosphere of idleness and happiness compared to Margaret's depressed north. ...read more.


The characters have to be both the easiest and strongest way of showing contrasts, and creating energy. The first contrast we see is at the beginning of chapter 1, where the differences between Edith and Margaret are made clear. Edith is superficial; she acts childishly, showing off her husband. Margaret on the other hand is full of intense reactions, nostalgia and basic sincerity. The next clear difference we see is of that between Margaret and her parents. Unlike both her parents, Margaret is strong and independent. Her father even has to rely on her to break news of the move to her mother. However, the best example of contrast is the first meeting of Margaret and Mr. Thornton. Here we see a strong sense of masculinity and femininity, the sexual tension is strong, and adds an electrifying air to the confrontation. Mr. Thornton's masculinity is also contrasted with that of Margaret's only other suitor, Mr. Lennox, who like her father is very feminine. Then there are the contrasts between and in the families. Mr. Thornton and Mrs. Thornton are both very strong characters, bullish almost, compared to the personality of Fanny, who is similar to Edith. ...read more.


Finally, another clear contrast is the discussion between Mr. Thornton and Margaret at the dinner party over the meaning of the word "gentleman". Here, Gaskell skilfully uses the dialogue to create a sense of sexual tension between them. One major point in how the structure of the novel helps to create a contrast is in the titles. Significant titles like "haste to the wedding" are followed "roses and thorns" a juxtaposition of two images that heighten the point that Gaskell is trying to put across. The other is in Mr. Lennox proposing. Here we see a sudden crisis that Margaret faces which is mirrored by a deeply poignant crisis of having to move from Helstone. Similarities help to stress the contrasts in the novel. The easiest similarity is between Margaret and Mr. Thornton, most importantly in their pride. Another is the illness shared by the Higginses and the Hales. This can almost be seen as a reflection of social illnesses within the society. All these contrasts help to move the story along and create energy, particularly among the characters. One clear example of how Gaskell uses contrasts is in Mr. Thornton and Margaret's first meeting where the sexual tension helps to create a strong atmosphere and well-written piece. ...read more.

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