Showing 1 - 2 of 2 annotations associated with Gaskell, Elizabeth
- Holmes, Martha Stoddard
Margaret Hale is raised in fashionable Harley Street along with her cousin Edith, but when Edith marries, Margaret returns to Hampshire County in the South of England to live with her mother and her father, a country clergyman. The pastoral life she has imagined is quickly disrupted by her father's confession that he is no longer able to remain true to the Church of England and will leave his position to become a tutor of adult learners in the northern manufacturing town of Milton. The traumatic relocation is exacerbated by Mrs. Hale's diagnosis with a "deadly disease" (probably cancer) soon after the move.
Margaret takes charge of most of the practical aspects of the move and then assumes charge of her mother's illness, acting as an intermediary between the doctor and her parents. As well as learning more about her own family's servant, Dixon, who has been with her mother since her girlhood, Margaret becomes friendly with textile worker Nicholas Higgins and his daughter Bessy, who is dying of consumption (tuberculosis) from inhaling textile dust. The Milton workers' activism and independence appeal to Margaret; she rethinks both class and labor relations as a result, including charitable relationships. Her strong opinions and actions bring her into conflict with the family of John Thornton, a factory owner and self-made man who is also one of her father's students.
When Margaret shields John from a stone thrown by a striking worker, however, he avows his love for her. A series of obstacles to the relationship include Margaret's initial rebuff of John and her dishonesty about her exiled brother's secret return to his mother's deathbed. Before the ending brings John and Margaret back together--as well as calming the tension between workers and factory owners--Margaret experiences not only the deaths of almost everyone she loves, but also the suicide of one of the striking workers.
Ruth is an orphaned seamstress. One day, while repairing ladies' dresses at a ball, she meets Henry Bellingham, an aristocratic young man who accompanies his proud partner to the seamstress' room. Circumstances throw Henry and Ruth together and the two become close friends; innocent Ruth has no idea of the trouble into which this affair is leading.
Henry invites her one Sunday to walk with him out of town to her old family home. She is blissfully happy during the trip, but on their return, they are overtaken by Ruth's employer who jumps to conclusions about the couple and fires Ruth on the spot. Pressed by circumstances, Ruth accepts Henry's offer of help. She travels with him to Scotland and the two become lovers. While in Scotland, Henry becomes ill. His mother is called and as soon as her son is well he returns to London with her, leaving the disgraced Ruth behind.
Ruth is ready to kill herself but is stopped by Thurston Benson, an invalid who pities Ruth and finds her a place to stay as she falls ill in her despair. When Thurston and his sister Faith find out that Ruth is pregnant, they have her move in with them, presenting her to their friends as a widow. Ruth bears a son and everything goes well for many years. Ruth's piety and goodness win the respect of her very traditional neighbors.
About this time, Henry Bellingham is campaigning to represent the district in which Ruth lives. He recognizes Ruth and tries to win her again, even offering marriage, but she will not listen to him. Soon after, a jealous woman in the town discovers Ruth's secret. Ruth is fired from her position as governess and despised by the townspeople. All her goodness stands for nothing in the face of her early mistake.
Ruth struggles on for her child's sake, even helping in the hospital during a typhus epidemic. She learns that Bellingham is nearby, deathly ill from typhus. She helps cure him, but leaves his bedside before he can recognize her. She, however, contracts the disease and dies. Bellingham comes to see her body.