Mid-Victorian England and Female Emancipation: Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South
One of the heated discussions of the Victorian era is female emancipation. In the heart of an industrial period when materialism, economic competition and public domain were dominated by men, women had the domestic sphere. The apparent difference between these two spheres was not tolerable for Elizabeth Gaskell and she critiqued it. Her novel North and South discusses the perceptions on women, the idea of industrialization, and class distinction in Victorian Era. Developing her main character Margaret Hale, Gaskell critiques her society and the mentality behind a perception of patriarchal and materialistic society. Gaskell develops her character on many different levels by giving her various roles especially in the industrial north. Valuing certain qualities women possess in the domestic level, Gaskell brings Margaret to the debates, businesses, factories, riots and public sphere of Milton. Gaskell presents the contemporary and Victorian readers with a different perception of women, their roles, and significance in the private and public spheres.
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