This isn’t going to be a psychoanalysis of Margaret Hale and John Thornton. Just a simple review. And this is on the book, not on the adaptation with Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage.
I thought the book was passable, and it is a masterwork of 19th century literature after all. BUT…and here’s the big BUT…I recently finished reading Cranford, another book by Gaskell, and in general I was unimpressed with it. Unfortunately I tarred NAS with the same brush. While I liked it a little, I couldn’t personally face having to do it either as a GCSE or an A Level book (I don’t think they’re on the syllabus for English A-Level.) because tearing a book to pieces to find answers just makes it boring. Making John and Margaret mere characters to be ripped to pieces and analyzed for romantic feeling.
Apparently the television adaptation is better so maybe I’ll go and watch that. And in terms of the aforementioned main characters, it was interesting to see their development. Thornton came across at times as going against the usual stereotype of a man from that era. He also seems to be a bit more fleshed out as a character than what I’ve come to expect in the usual hero. You see his inner-turmoil. (He doesn’t just show up in a ripped shirt and breeches, clutching a wanton maiden to his chest and then flies off with her into the night) but he does fit the hero archetype.
I don’t know what to say about Margaret as a character. Its strange, though, that she is supposed to be 19 at the start of the book and about 21 at the end. And yet she loses three people close to her. I can hardly imagine that happening to me.
After that quick shot of self-indulgence, all in all it was a good book. I think for the next few weeks, though, I’m going to step away from English lit and at 4.30am this morning I began reading Deutrovsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’.