North and South

North and South

by

Elizabeth Gaskell

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North and South: Chapter 52 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Henry and Margaret are enclosed in a private meeting for much of the next day. When he finds her hovering outside, Henry tells Edith to stop hoping that he and Margaret will marry. He is bringing Thornton with him the next day for another meeting.
Henry’s hopes, newly rekindled, have been crushed, as Margaret’s interested in his advisement and friendship, but decidedly has her own plans for the future.
Themes
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
The next day Thornton comes, though without Lennox. Margaret hurries in late, flustered. She tells Thornton she is sorry to be losing him as a tenant. She fumbles over some papers and, trembling, explains that Henry helped her to draw up a proposal, showing that Thornton might take some money of hers and resume his place at Marlborough Mills. She keeps searching for the correct paper, “anxious to have it all looked upon in the light of a mere business arrangement,” but is stopped by Thornton’s tone as he says her name with great tenderness.
Margaret takes the conventionally unfeminine step of initiating a business meeting with Thornton, and she’s emphatic that her proposals not be looked upon as personal—but it’s clear that she still has feelings for him. Speaking to Margaret by name is a deeply personal act in this historical context—and, in light of Thornton’s previous offer, it’s as good as another proposal.
Themes
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Margaret hides her face as Thornton repeats her name. Finally, the third time, she hides her face on his shoulder, and he embraces her. Finally, she says, “Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!” He tells her not to mock his own “deep feeling of unworthiness.” He reminds her of the way she embraced him on the day of the riot.
Now that the two have mutual feelings for one another, Margaret’s pride has given way to shyness, and each deeply respects the other. While Margaret’s embrace of Thornton at Marlborough Mills was not a personal act, their current embrace, based on Margaret’s financial rescuing of Thornton and her genuine confidence in who he is, is unmistakably personal.
Themes
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Thornton says he has something to show her, and withdraws some dried roses from his pocket-book. After a moment, Margaret recognizes them as Helstone roses and asks when he was there. “I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is,” he tells her, “even at the worst time of all, when I had no hope of ever calling her mine.” It’s implied that they kiss. The two wonder with quiet amusement how Aunt Shaw, and Mrs. Thornton, will react to their union.
Thornton’s deep love for Margaret is shown by the fact that he still cared to know about her roots even when there was no hope of their union. The Helstone roses suggest that Helstone remains an enduing part of Margaret’s identity—and that, through her union with Thornton, North and South are coming together at last.
Themes
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
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