Prejudice In Elizabeth Gaskell's North And South

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In “North and South,” author Elizabeth Gaskell subverts the idea that prejudice may only come from those of high stature, exemplifying the overarching reach of prejudice through the servant Dixon. Dixon’s prejudice initially presents itself through her distaste for Mr. Hale and her view that his class is socially inferior to that of her mistress, Mrs. Hale. Although she considers Mr. Hale to be “the blight which had fallen upon her young lady's prospects in life,” she finds herself “too loyal to desert [Mrs. Hale] in her affliction and downfall (alias her married life)” (Gaskell 22). The relationship she has with Mr. and Mrs. Hale illustrates Dixon’s inherent bias towards others depending on their social status. The extent of Dixon’s predisposition is interesting because she herself is a servant.…show more content…
Gaskell displays the ways in which prejudice is thwarted through other characters such as Margaret and Mr. Thornton, but the development of Dixon does not reach a point at which her overall judgements are lessened. Through Gaskell’s portrayal of Dixon, she counters the argument that tension is only present between the upper and lower class. The lower class harbors prejudice as well, and not only towards those above them – those of low stature may actually dislike those even lower than they. This exploration of prejudice is most notable in Dixon, and serves to further define prejudice as more than a high society tool to belittle the working class. In addition to illustrating the upper class’s bias towards the lower class, Gaskell also presents a prejudice harbored by a servant towards those in her social class or lower. Through this exploration, Gaskell illustrates the complexities of the class struggle instead of simplifying it into a clean dichotomy powered by stature
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