Friday, November 16, 2007

Pulsating Passages: North and South

All extracts taken from the edition by Oxford University Press (1992)

First Meeting

Mr Thornton was a good deal more surprised and discomfited than she. Instead of a quiet middle-aged clergyman, a young lady came forward with frank dignity, - a young lady of a different type to most of those he was in the habit of seeing . . . Mr Thornton was in habits of authority himself, bust she seemed to assume some kind of rule over him at once. He had been getting impatient at the loss of his time on market-day, the moment before she appeared, yet now he calmly took a seat at her bidding. (pp. 61-2)


She had a bracelet on one taper arm, which would fall down over her round wrist. Mr Thornton watched the re-placing of this troublesome ornament with far more attention than he listened to her father. It seemed as if it fascinated him to see her push it up impatiently, until it tightened her soft flesh; and then to mark the loosening – the fall. He could almost have exclaimed – ‘There it goes again!’ There was so little left to be done after he arrived at the preparation for tea, that he was almost sorry the obligation of eating and drinking came so soon to prevent him watching Margaret. (p. 79)

Disagreeing about the Strike

‘Pray don’t go into more similes, Margaret; you have led us off once already,’ said her father, smiling, yet uneasy at the thought that they were detaining Mr Thornton against his will, which was a mistake; for he rather liked it, as long as Margaret would talk, although what she said only irritated him. (p. 122)

The Thorntons on Margaret

‘Mother’, said he, stopping, and bravely speaking out the truth, ‘I wish you would like Miss Hale.’
‘Why?’ asked she, startled by his earnest, yet tender manner, ‘You’re never thinking of marrying her? – a girl without a penny.’
‘She would never have me,’ said he, with a short laugh. (p. 142)

Margaret’s attention was thus called to her host; his whole manner, as master of the house, and entertainer of his friends, was so straightforward, yet simple and modest, as to be thoroughly dignified. Margaret thought she had never seen him to so much advantage. . . He was regarded by them [his fellow mill owners] as a man of great force of character; of power in many ways. There was no need to struggle for their respect. He had it, and he knew it; and the security of this gave a fine grand quietness to his voice and ways, which Margaret had missed before. (pp.162-3)

At the Demo

‘Now kill me, if it is your brutal will. There is no woman to shield me here. You may beat me to death – you will never move me from what I have determined upon – not you! He stood amongst them, which arms folded in precisely the same attitude as he had been on the steps.

[. . .]

He bore her into the dining room, and laid her on the sofa there; laid her down softly, and looking on her pure white face, the sense of what she was to him came upon him so keenly that he spoke it in his pain.
‘Oh, my Margaret – my Margaret! No one can tell what you are to me! Dead – cold as you lie there, you are the only woman I ever loved Oh, Margaret – Margaret!’ (p. p.180)

The Proposal

‘One word more. You look as if you thought it tainted you to be loved by me. You cannot avoid it. Nay, I, if I would, cannot cleanse you from it. But I would not, if I could. I have never loved any woman before: my life has been too busy, my thoughts too much absorbed with other things. Now I love, and will love. But do not be afraid of too much expression on my part.’ (p. 196)

The Aftermath

His greatest comfort was in hugging his torment; and in feeling, as he had indeed said to her, that though she might despise him, contemn him, treat him with her proud sovereign indifference, he did not change one whit. She could not make him change. He loved her, and would love her; and defy her, and this miserable bodily pain. (p. 207)

Meeting Her

He thought that he disliked seeing one who had mortified him so keenly; but he was mistaken. It was a stinging pleasure to be in the room with her, and feel her presence. But he was no great analyser of his motives, and was mistaken, as I have said. (p. 239)

He spoke as if the answer were a matter of indifference to him. But it was not so. For all his pain, he longed to see the author of it. Although he hated Margaret at times, when he thought of that gentle familiar attitude and all the attendant circumstances, he had a restless desire to renew her picture in his mind – a longing for the very atmosphere she breathed. He was in the Charybdis of passion, and must perforce circle and circle ever nearer round the fatal centre. (p. 270)


Miss Hale might love another – was indifferent and contemptuous to him – but he would yet do her faithful acts of service of which she should never know. He might despise her, but the woman whom he had once loved should be kept from shame; and shame it would be to pledge herself to a lie in a public court, or otherwise to stand and acknowledge he reason for desiring darkness rather than light. (p. 280)

On the Street

Just before Mr Thornton came up to Mrs Boucher’s door, Margaret came out of it. She did not see him; and he followed her for several yards, admiring her light and easy walk, and her tall and graceful figure. But, suddenly, this simple emotion of pleasure was tainted, poisoned by jealousy. He wished to overtake her, and speak to her, to see how she would receive him, now she must know he was aware of some other attachment. (p.327)

Bell and Thornton

‘Beautiful creature indeed! Do you speak of her as you would of a horse or a dog?’

Mr Thornton’s eyes glowed like red embers.

‘Mr Bell,’ said he, ‘before you speak so, you should remember that all men are not as free to express what they feel as you are. Let us speak of something else.’ For though his heart leaped up, as at a trumpet call to every word that Mr bell had said, and though he knew that what he had said would henceforward bind the thought of the old Oxford Fellow closely up with the most precious things of his heart, yet he would not be forced into any expression of what he felt towards Margaret. (p. 361).

Margaret leaves

And at the remembrance of her taunting words, his brow grew stern, though his heart beat with longing love. ‘No!’ said he, ‘I put it to the touch once, and I lost it all. Let her go, - with her stony heart, and her beauty; - how set and terrible her look is now, for all her loveliness of feature! She is afraid I shall speak what will require some stern repression. Let her go. Beauty and heiress as she may be, she will find it hard to meet with a truer heart than mine. Let her go!’

And there was no tone of regret, or emotion of any kind in the voice with which he said good-bye; and the offered hand was taken with a resolute calmness, and dropped as carelessly as if it had been a dead and withered flower. But none in his household saw Mr Thornton again that day. He was busily engaged; or so he said. (pp.369-70)

The Truth

‘It was her brother,’ said Mr Thornton to himself. ‘I am glad. I may never see her again; but it is a comfort – a relief – to know that much. I knew she could not be unmaidenly; and yet I yearned for conviction. Now I am glad!’ (p. 423)

A Business Proposition

Still lower went the head; more closely hidden was the face, almost resting on the table before her. He came close to her. He knelt by her side, to bring her face to a level with her ear; and whispered – panted out the words: -
‘Take care. – If you do not speak – I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way. – send me away at once, if I must go; - Margaret! - ’


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved reading this post. All my favourite N&S passages all in one place. Thank you!

11:09 PM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

How tender was that last scene? I melted.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Lívia said...

lovely site!!!


6:44 PM  
Blogger Ctina said...

Its pretty hot in here...let me open a window...wooo!

4:07 PM  
Blogger Traxy said...


That was a wonderful read! Thank you! I've ordered N&S (book) but haven't received it yet, and am following the series on BBC4 for the first time! :D

3:08 PM  

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