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How does Gaskell use setting and location to reveal the character of her heroine, Margaret Hale?

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  • Essay length: 2417 words
  • Submitted: 29/10/2003
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How does Gaskell use setting and location to reveal the character of her heroine, Margaret Hale?

The final title of her novel 'North and South', suggests the important role setting and location play in Gaskell's story of Margaret Hale and her relationship with Milton mill-owner John Thornton. During the course of the novel, we see Margaret settled in three locations; Harley Street, Helstone and Milton. Each of these settings represents a different social stratum and we see Margaret develop in her perception and attitude towards each of them. They all contribute, in some way, to making Margaret the girl that she is at the end of the novel.

The book opens in Harley Street, where we are presented with the character of Edith. Edith's role in the novel is to act as a contrast to Margaret or 'control sample'. Through her, we can see what Margaret's life would have been like had she accepted Lennox. Edith is the model Victorian woman and she fits in perfectly with her Harley Street surroundings, but Margaret is far more independent, strong-minded and unconventional. When having her lover describe her future life in Corfu, "the very parts which made

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