Tuesday, June 12, 2007

North and South

"I know you despise me; allow me to say, it is because you do not understand me."

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is often compared to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and I think it's because both heroines from each book refuses the hero's offer of marriage before they know who they are refusing.

My sister pointed out to me when we were watching the Persuasion, how did Austen characters obtain their money, as they seemed only to party all the time or travel across the country. I know they were land-owners and soldiers, yet it feels funny in a world where we have to work from 7 to 5.

North and South came as a more realistic life with the factory workers and the strike problem. The movie version (2004) is wonderful and I love the factory scene where we can see white cotton flying. The soundtrack is also very beautiful.

I finished the original novel last week and it was not as difficult as I thought. Reading classics sometimes is not easy, but I really enjoyed North and South. I usually buy books published by Wordsworth or Pinguin Classics, but after several months looking at local book stores in Jakarta, I only could find a copy published by Rohan Book Company. The price was as cheap, but I found many mis-spellings and the illustrations were poor.

Mr Thornton in the novel has less temper than in the movie. He never hit his workers, for example. The first meeting with Miss Hale took place when he came to the hotel where the Hales stayed after they had arrived in Milton. Also after the death of Mr Hale, Margaret left Milton and until the ending, she never came back. The reunion happened in Edith's house in London, not in a train station.

North and South, as you can guess from the title, is about a young woman from a peaceful southern town called Helstone who moves with her parents to an industrial town in the north called Milton where she will meet the hero. Margaret Hale hates the busy life of Milton with its pollution at first, but slowly she becomes fond of the people and understands their way.

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