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“You might pioneer a little at home”: Hybrid spaces, identities, and homes in elizabeth gaskell's North and South
Published in Ashgate Publishing Ltd
Pages: 37 - 52

Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1854-1855) is a narrative that juxtaposes the domesticities in the North and the South, the country and the town, the country and the forest, and the town and the suburbs. Gaskell would have titled her novel after its heroine Margaret Hale-the only figure to experience the “homes” in all these places and spaces-thus plotting the traversal of the romantic love plot over the narrative’s multiple spatialities by her progress, if Charles Dickens had not intervened with his alternative title that invokes the English regional binary of the industrial North and the agrarian South (Bodenheimer 281).1 The novel was serialized between September 1854 and January 1855 in Dickens’s Household Words. The spatial politics of the London home, the New Forest in Helstone, and the homes in Milton Northern are thematically and structurally important to the narrative development of North and South. In fact, there is a dynamic relationship between the novel’s spatiality and its courtship or romantic love plot. The heterogeneous interests of Margaret in the outdoors or the public sphere and Thornton’s complementary interests in the private sphere have functional implications for the progression of the plot. In this chapter I analyze the interplay between the novel’s spaces and its courtship plot in order to map a trajectory of spatiality that orients and is reoriented by the hybrid sensibilities of the central characters as they move towards the narrative’s marital teleology.

About the journal
JournalPlace and Progress in the Works of Elizabeth Gaskell
PublisherAshgate Publishing Ltd
Open AccessNo