Like Marian Withers and Mary Brotherton before her, Margaret Hale in North and South travels, to resolve both social and religious doubts. One needs to recall, as Young observes, that "industry was a wonder, and almost a terror, to strangers from the leisurely South" ("Victorian" 155). She becomes a social explorer, an image familiar from Kay's 1832 monograph or Cooke Taylor's Tour in the Manufacturing Districts. Manchester even in the fifties could still seem "the shock city of the age" (Briggs, Victorian Cities 96). Gaskell integrates the industrial and the female issues of the novel because the exploration is as much about the condition of women as the condition of workers. Only through the struggles provoked by the industrial era does Margaret grasp the nature of her mother, the sufferings of working-class girls, and the indeterminacy of women's position.
Created c.1994; last modified 25 March 2000