333 – Chapter 4 – North & South
333–Reconnaissance – We are reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, chapter 4, with many thanks to our reader, Barbara Edleman. Book talk begins at 12 minutes. The first N&S episode is 331.
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Literary Links of Interest for this chapter:
The Thirty-Nine Articles in question.
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You spoke at the end of the episode about how Victorian women were more complex than people think, and that Gaskell was probably not being a radical in writing her characters. This seems SO obvious to me, that I wonder that people don’t see it. It’s as if we presumed that all American women in the 1950s were like June Cleaver (was that her name..? I can’t remember), or other representations of women in television, when we know from our own experience (or that of our mothers and grandmothers) that that was most certainly not the case. Women — and for that matter, men — are always going to be more complex and interesting than their representation in most of mainstream media, whether that takes the form of novels, serials, television, movies, video games, magazines, etc. The same goes for any sort of cultural representation regardless of gender. It is just as important to remember the media biases and stereotypings when looking at history as it is when we think critically about our own media.
So anyway. Gaskell’s just being real, yo. Not stereotyping. And I like that.
I’ve been thinking about what you were saying about how wealthy, or not, the Hales were, and where they would fit in to the social milieu of the time. I think that, although ministers were poorly paid, they would have been able to afford maids and cooks. Also, as educated and professional people they were considered socially desirable.
My mother was a minister’s daughter in the Church of Scotland, born in 1921. She remembers her mother having live-in maids, because the household duties of those days were very onerous – no machines! For example, once a year, all the carpets in the manse – a large victorian house – were lifted, hung over the washing line, and beaten.
Ministers were considered in the top of the social scene in the town. When she and Dad were engaged to be married in 1947, dad’s father was not pleased. In spite of his family being very well off, they were “trade”, (dad’s father was a potato merchant), Mr Clark felt that dad was marrying “above himself”. He refused to attend their wedding in 1949.
Margaret Hale’s attitude to their social standing was normal for the time, probably confirmed by her time living with her aunt in London.
I find it amazing that these attitudes survived into the 20th century, even into my own lifetime.
AH! @WoolyJumpers found the article I stumbled on–about askers/guessers–and it’s at 99u. (http://99u.com/workbook/21895/are-you-an-asker-or-a-guesser)
I feel kind of like I’m asking an embarrassingly obvious question, but I don’t see a way to download this episode. Is it only available for streaming, or where should I click to download? Thank you! I’m loving this new book!
You’re not–once I moved the “book talk starts at” line up to the top I stopped doing the extra step of adding the link in! Oops! For a quick fix if I do that again, go to the CraftLit.Libsyn.com site and right click on the “Pod” icon at the top of the episode. That’s always a direct link. I’ll try to remember to keep adding them here, too.
Thank you so much!!