North And South Margaret Hale Character Analysis

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The novel North and South written by Elizabeth Gaskell takes place during the Victorian era following the life of Margaret Hale. In the beginning of the novel when Margaret first moves to Milton, there is a large disruption between the workers and the owners of the factory. Margaret also has to adjust to her new lifestyle in Milton, allowing her eyes to be opened to the other ways of life including the master and servant ways. The novel North and South captures the essence of relationships between classes and those who are considered masters and servants.
Higgins is a known union leader among the factory workers for constantly fighting for his and everyone’s rights. Thornton there for hates Higgins for shutting down his factory by convincing
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Dixon is the servant of the Hale household, mainly to Mrs. Hale due to the fact Mrs. Hale has had Dixon as a servant since before she married Mr. Hale. The function of having Dixon is for her to take care of the family by cooking and cleaning but also Dixon serves as an emotional crutch for Mrs. Hale. Mrs. Hale has never been satisfied with her life because of the fact she was never rich and only married Mr. Hale for love. This leads to Mrs. Hale always confiding in Dixon with her constant complaints about the life around her. Over her years of services, Dixon has bonded strongly with Mrs. Hale and due to this bond the lines between master and servant fade away. Dixon is still looked upon as a servant to the family, but is also considered a family member in which they could never replace. Because of the fact Mrs. Hale is so close with Dixon, the environment of the Hale home has become a comfortable and safe place for Dixon. In some moments, Dixon forgets she is a servant of the family and often speaks her mind openly. Around Mrs. Hale this had never been an issue but Dixon did this in front of Margaret one day by making comments about Mr. Hale. “Dixon had been so much accustomed to comment upon Mr. Hale's proceedings to her mistress...that she never noticed Margaret's flashing eye and dilating nostril. To hear her father talked of in this way by a servant to her face,”…show more content…
Mill workers are seen as replaceable and poor workers but they’re only seen as workers. They are not look upon as people trying to support their families or people trying to make better lives for themselves. With Dixon’s many years of service in the Hale household in such personal constructs, the Hales have bonded with her and learned about Dixon as a person. The intertwining strings of connections between the Hales and Dixon are so woven together it’s impossible for them to ever think of Dixon as just a servant. However, with factory workers there are so many of them on a large scale, therefore they are seen as a group of workers all bunched together instead of as individual people. “What wi' hard work first, and sickness at last, hoo's led the life of a dog. And to die without knowing one good piece o' rejoicing in all her days,” (350). Even with the workers doing all the work they can, falling ill due to conditions and dying, many owners of the factory refuse to see them as humans and refuse to do better by them.
Overall, North and South is a book that battles the current social constructs of that era. The relationships between masters and servants in this novel do not follow the typical standard of what is known. The odd friendship and partnership that forms between Higgins and Thornton breaks the norm of how owners and workers work together.
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