This is to be, if you could not already tell, another post for the Literary Heroine Blog Party. Margaret Hale is another of may favorites, right up there with Molly Gibson. I can't say whom I like better, because they are both charming and lovely in different ways. Margaret is the heroine in Elizabeth Gaskell's classic North and South. Coincidentally, Wives and Daughters is a Gaskell as well.
I read North and South for the first time when my mom and I read only Elizabeth Gaskell books for about a month. That included re-reads as well. I believe she first came across the movie on YouTube, fell in love with it, and then got the book from the library. I, as always, wanted to read it before I watched the movie, so while my mom finished her first watching of it, I read the book. I thought it was amazing. Really. It opens up with an intro as delightful as that of Wives and Daughters, and continues on in the same fashion for some several hundred pages. My mom read the book after she watched the wonderful movie, and actually didn't like it as much. Although I disagree, I can completely understand why her preferences are the way they are *cough* Richard Armitage *cough*.
Margaret is a very interesting character, although there isn't quite as much to say about her as there was Molly. She is a very quiet person, and many actually see her as a bit stuck up. I don't. Some, who don't know me very well, think that I am too reserved and a bit haughty sometimes too, and that really is not the case. As with Margaret, when I am around people I know well, I do talk, and very much! When Margaret is with her family - her mother, father, Dixon, and Fred - she offers her opinions, advice, and feelings quite freely. An example of a really reserved person is Jane Fairfax from Emma. Although we do not see much of her when she is with her friends the Campbells (where she might have been more open), even around her aunt, she is quiet.
Margaret also has a naturally kind heart that is prone to pity and want to help everyone she sees. This is the original cause of tension between her and Mr. Thornton when she sees him supposedly abusing his workers. Her first impression of him is that he is cruel and heartless, and thinks only of profit and loss - to take a quote from Emma. This brings to light another trait that is not often mingled with reservation: Margaret is actually a bit impulsive. Without a second thought, she as well as scolds Mr. Thornton a few times!
Despite this, she is full of kindness towards Bessy Higgins and her family, being a faithful friend and contributing to the physical needs of the other mill workers as well. Even towards Boucher she shows kindness and sympathy, although I cannot help seeing him as a bit slimy. I know that he thought only of his family and their needs, but still. I probably judge him too harshly.
Speaking of judging, Margaret also does quite a bit of that. She came from a lovely home in Helstone and is a bit shocked at the cultural differences in Milton (handshake, anyone?). At first, Milton is to her nothing but a dirty, ragged, poor city, and she is repulsed by the suffering that she sees. She does not understand the economics involved in mills and factories, and I am sure that I would feel the same way were I in her position. She judges Mr. Thornton very harshly at first - his whole family actually, although they deserve it. Fanny is very silly. ;)
Margaret's impulsiveness comes out more prominently in one of my favorite scenes, the riot. I loved this scene in the book and thought that BBC did a good job on it in the movie as well. Margaret 'pulls an Eponine' and saves Thornton from a stone-throwing crowd, gets knocked unconscious, and gives him the impression that she loves him. (At this point, I'm like "Not yet, not yet. Wait just a bit longer").
(Although they don't have this part in the movie, Mr. Thornton actually confesses his love for Margaret while she is unconscious. I wish they had kept it!) After the strike, Thornton refuses Nicholas Higgins work, and Margaret encourages him to ask again, confident that his human kindness will overpower his better judgement. Of course, he refuses yet again, But then realizes that it was Margaret who told Higgins to persist and gives in. (He still loves her, peeps!). Now we see, her opinion of him beginning to rise. She more fully understands the economic of the mills, and is able to bring Higgins and Thornton to a friendship.
Now we all know how Margaret comes to see that she is completely wrong in her judgements of Milton. After her mother dies, and then, unexpectedly, her father, she is 'adopted' by her godfather, Mr. Bell, who then hands over his whole estate to her, including Marlborough Mills, which collapsed financially and left the Thorntons almost penniless. He had refused to speculate (gamble) with his money, against the advice of many, which I admire him for greatly. His reason for not doing so was solely that he would not risk the jobs of all of his workers, which was EXTREMELY noble of him. He really did care about people, and did his best to keep them fed and in a job.
Now, I did like the ending scene in the movie better than in the book, I admit it. It is just amazing. I also loved how Margaret met Mrs. Thornton in the mill and was so nice to her. Margaret, who stayed strong throughout all of the emotions of moving, losing her parents and her friend Bessy, and many other traumatizing events, now realizes that she does love Mr. Thornton after all. No, I shouldn't say after all, 'now' would be more appropriate. It is only when she sees past his stern exterior that she sees how kind he is, and she loves him for that. Behind his brooding majesty, there is a man that no one could not love. See what I mean?
Yeah, he's amazing. I envy Margaret to the fullest degree. And they also have the best first kiss in all of history. I'm serious. If you've seen it you know exactly what I'm talking about.
I'd love to say more about Mr. Thornton, but this is a Literary Heroines Blog Party so I'll refrain. *ITISSODIFFICULT!* I also really like Margaret's wardrobe - modest (mostly), elegant, and simple. I'd wear all of her dresses except her blue ball gown. That one is a bit low in the front for me. And I kind of have a thing for hoopskirts, so...
The green striped one she wears at the train station is one of my favorites *squeal*!
So, the fact that Margaret is pretty much my favorite heroine does have just a little *cough* to do with Mr. Thornton and Richard Armitage being amazing as always. My mom said that she didn't like him at first when she watched the movie, and I was surprised, not having had the same experience at all. Well, I had read the book first, too, and I liked him in that very much!
And as a side note, when we first watched the Hobbit, my mom was like, "Who is that?" when we first saw (and heard) Thorin. His voice is beautiful. And I was squealing and jumping up and down and having a fangirl attack because he is amazing and I knew exactly who he was. :)