Sunday, 20 January 2019

North and South: Elizabeth Gaskell kills lots of people [updated]

Do lots of characters die in Victorian literature because people died easily, for numerous reasons, in Victorian times? Or because it’s a convention to kill off characters who no longer matter or who need to die to untie a knot and advance the plot? 
At least, the Brontes’ novels always make me feel that way (much as I love Emily). Slash slash! Kill them off! 
Now, in North and South
Margaret’s friend Bessy Higgins dies of consumption in chapter 27. 
In chapter 30, her mother Mrs Hale dies of some disease that is never stated (why not? what is it?). 
In chapter 34, Leonards is dead.  
Now in chapter 36, John Boucher, 1 of the strikers, commits suicide. 
That’s a lot of deaths in a couple of chapters. 
The book has 52 chapters in total. Let’s see how many will be killed off.


The post above was written on 18/1. 
Update: Now, in chapter 41, Margaret’s father Mr Hale also dies. 
Everyone dies.


  1. surprising... i've never read Ms. Gaskell; looking her up on Wiki, i see she wrote a lot of short stories; i'll look for a collection of them... i see on Gutenberg that they list what looks like all of her books; i'll download some... tx...

    1. I think her most notable works are probably the novels though?
      I don't really know, this is the 1st Gaskell work I've read.

  2. Gaskell's novels get the most attention, although people who like ghost stories read a number of her shorter works, especially "The Old Nurse's Tale." And the other Gaskell stories I have read were pretty good.

    For what it is worth, I think her domestic picaresque Cranford is by far her best book, artistically, and it is a collection of short stories that eventually turns into a novel, an unusual form.


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