North and South

North and South

by

Elizabeth Gaskell

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Mr. Richard Hale Character Analysis

Mr. Hale, Margaret’s father and Maria’s husband, is a sweet-tempered parish priest in his mid-fifties. Sometimes emotional and wavering in his beliefs, he is often described as having stereotypically feminine traits. He and his wife, Maria, have a happy marriage. He has always spent a great deal of time in his study, delighting in “speculative and metaphysical books.” However, when Margaret returns from London, she finds him distracted and troubled and soon learns that he has decided to leave the Church of England, as he’s harbored agonizing theological doubts for years. Though he still considers himself a Christian, he no longer finds acceptance in the Church of England, which Margaret finds devastating. With the help of his dear friend Mr. Bell, he arranges to become a private tutor in Milton-Northern, with Mr. Thornton becoming his chief pupil. He increasingly leans on Margaret for major household decisions, and after his wife dies, he is so overwhelmed with grief that Margaret must single-handedly make the funeral arrangements. During a visit to Mr. Bell in Oxford, Mr. Hale dies suddenly of heart failure.

Mr. Richard Hale Quotes in North and South

The North and South quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Richard Hale or refer to Mr. Richard Hale. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of North and South published in 1996.
Chapter 4 Quotes

“Doubts, papa! Doubts as to religion?” asked Margaret, more shocked than ever.

“No! not doubts as to religion; not the slightest injury to that…You could not understand it all, if I told you—my anxiety, for years past, to know whether I had any right to hold my living—my efforts to quench my smoldering doubts by the authority of the Church. Oh! Margaret, how I love the holy Church from which I am to be shut out!” He could not go on for a moment or two. Margaret could not tell what to say; it seemed to her as terribly mysterious as if her father were about to turn Mahometan.

Related Characters: Margaret Hale (speaker), Mr. Richard Hale (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

“As I was a-saying, sir, I reckon yo’d not ha’ much belief in yo’ if yo’ lived here,—if you’d been bred here. I ax your pardon if I use wrong words; but what I mean by belief just now, is a-thinking on sayings and maxims and promises made by folk yo’ never saw, about the things and the life yo’ never saw, nor no one else…There’s many and many a one wiser, and scores better learned than I am around me,—folk who’ve had time to think on these things,—while my time has had to be gi’en up to getting my bread.”

Related Characters: Nicholas Higgins (speaker), Margaret Hale, Mr. Richard Hale
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 41 Quotes

When her father had driven off on his way to the railroad, Margaret felt how great and long had been the pressure on her time and her spirits. It was astonishing, almost stunning, to feel herself so much at liberty; no one depending on her for cheering care, if not for positive happiness; no invalid to plan and think for; she might be idle, and silent, and forgetful,—and what seemed worth more than all the other privileges—she might be unhappy if she liked.

Related Characters: Margaret Hale, Mr. Richard Hale
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 44 Quotes

“But the truth is, these country clergymen live such isolated lives—isolated, I mean, from all intercourse with men of equal cultivation with themselves, by whose minds they might regulate their own, and discover when they were going either too fast or too slow—that they are very apt to disturb themselves with imaginary doubts as to the articles of faith, and throw up certain opportunities of doing good for very uncertain fancies of their own.”

After visiting with Margaret in London, Henry and Mr. Bell chat about the struggles the Hale family has endured in recent years. Henry remarks that he’s heard from Mr. Hale’s successor, Hepworth, that Hale need not have abandoned his position as rector over a few nagging doubts. Henry argues that “country clergymen” become so morbidly consumed by their own ideas that they make mountains out of theological molehills, and overreact about small things. They have no neighbors of similar education, so they have few opportunities to test and refine their thinking against others. The result is that they become disproportionately fixated on certain pet ideas and sometimes do what Mr. Hale did, walking away from a potentially fruitful ministry for no good reason. While Mr. Hale himself had warned of the risk of stagnation in country life, Henry’s claim is presumptuous—assuming that Hale’s doubts were insignificant, and that his heartbreaking choice to leave Helstone need not have been made. It also lines up with the bias, seen elsewhere in the novel, that concrete, measurable action is to be preferred to thought.

Related Characters: Henry Lennox (speaker), Mr. Richard Hale, Mr. Bell, Mr. Hepworth
Related Symbols: Nature and the Countryside
Page Number: 371
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Mr. Richard Hale Character Timeline in North and South

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Richard Hale appears in North and South. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...seems discontented with her lot in Helstone, complaining that the bishop ought to have given Mr. Hale a better living by now and that Helstone is an unhealthy place. Margaret sees that... (full context)
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Margaret finds the evenings at Helstone hard to occupy, since Mr. Hale withdraws into his library, there aren’t many good books for her to read, and Mrs.... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...to which Margaret makes no response. When the pair returns to the house, they find Mr. Hale , and Margaret sees that his disturbed air has only been set aside, not banished. (full context)
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At this point, they rejoin Mr. Hale , who has not yet finished eating the pear he had started. Henry spends the... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...abstracted silence during tea. Afterward, she is just resigning herself to another long evening, when Mr. Hale asks her if she can join him in his study to discuss “something very serious... (full context)
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When Margaret asks why, Mr. Hale fidgets for another moment, then finally says, “Because I must no longer be a minister... (full context)
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It has nothing to do with Frederick, Mr. Hale explains, and he will answer her questions, but after tonight, they must never speak of... (full context)
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Mr. Hale finally explains that, for years now, he’s been harboring “smoldering doubts” that the authority of... (full context)
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...foundation of her home, of her idea of her beloved father, seemed reeling and rocking.” Mr. Hale tries to comfort her and to strengthen his own resolve by reading her a soliloquy... (full context)
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Mr. Hale explains, “I suffer for conscience’s sake, my child,” and that he has attempted to stifle... (full context)
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Mr. Hale asks Margaret if she will mind breaking the news to Mrs. Hale. Margaret “[shrinks] from... (full context)
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Margaret wonders scornfully what need manufacturers have of classic literature or gentlemanly pursuits. Mr. Hale says that some manufacturers “really seem to be fine fellows, conscious of their own deficiencies,... (full context)
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...cannot mean…to be for ever separate from me, from mamma—led away by some delusion—some temptation!” Mr. Hale affirms it, but offers his daughter God’s blessing, and they embrace. (full context)
Chapter 5
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...return.” Henry’s marriage proposal seems like a mere dream, next to the painful reality of Mr. Hale ’s leaving the Church. She stares out at the outline of the church in the... (full context)
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Just then, Mr. Hale steps into Margaret’s room and asks her to pray with him, so they kneel by... (full context)
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Mrs. Hale is impatient and dismissive of Mr. Hale ’s religious doubts and hurt by his failure to consult her. However, Margaret manages to... (full context)
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That evening Mr. Hale returns home with a timid look “almost pitiful to see in a man’s face,” and... (full context)
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Mrs. Hale becomes too ill from stress to be of use, and Mr. Hale is too depressed to deal with the practical questions of moving. Margaret finds that the... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...fear of poachers and wishes them success, she rushes inside the house. She talks with Mr. Hale about his last day of parish visitations; he grieves the sufferings of those he is... (full context)
Chapter 7
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One day Mr. Hale and Margaret set out for Milton so that they can search for a house, and... (full context)
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Margaret and Mr. Hale visit a series of houses, finding that their money doesn’t stretch as far in Milton... (full context)
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After Mr. Hale drops Margaret off at the hotel for lunch and goes to speak to the landlord,... (full context)
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After Thornton and Margaret make halting attempts at conversation, Mr. Hale returns, and Thornton revises his opinion of the family, though Margaret makes him feel so... (full context)
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When Margaret further describes Thornton as a “tradesman,” Mr. Hale corrects her, saying that the Milton manufacturers are very different from tradesmen. Margaret concedes. She... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Mr. Hale meets with additional pupils, some of them boys who had left traditional schooling early in... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The next day, Mr. Hale announces, to Mrs. Hale’s dismay, that he has invited Mr. Thornton to tea for that... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...Thornton finds himself distracted by Margaret’s beauty as she pours the tea and jokes with Mr. Hale . (full context)
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...too, observes Thornton, and notices the difference in both appearance and character between him and Mr. Hale . Her father has dreamy, “almost feminine” eyes and an emotional face; Thornton has earnest,... (full context)
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Mr. Hale and Mr. Thornton are discussing the steam-hammer. Thornton describes the advance of industry as “the... (full context)
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Mr. Hale inquires whether it is necessary to conceive of the relationship between classes as a “battle.”... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...is surprised at Margaret’s comments, given Margaret’s earlier attitude about “shoppy people,” and thinks that Mr. Hale shouldn’t have brought such a person into the house “without telling us what he had... (full context)
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Mr. Hale fills in some of what Thornton had declined to share—namely, that his father had committed... (full context)
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...that “such a nature should be tainted by his position as a Milton manufacturer.” When Mr. Hale asks what she means, Margaret says that Thornton measures everything by the standard of wealth,... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Mr. Hale , however, appears to be willfully blind to Mrs. Hale’s condition, and is even irritated... (full context)
Chapter 15
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The next day Mr. Hale and Margaret walk to the Thorntons’ to return Mrs. Thornton’s call. When they arrive at... (full context)
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...comes in, Margaret gives a halting account of Mrs. Hale’s illness, not wanting to distress Mr. Hale . From this Mrs. Thornton gathers that Mrs. Hale has some “fanciful fine-ladyish indisposition” and... (full context)
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The three discuss Mr. Thornton’s love of his studies with Mr. Hale . Mrs. Thornton says that study of the classics is fine for people of leisure,... (full context)
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Mr. Hale and Margaret are aware that they had never heard of Mr. Thornton until Mr. Bell... (full context)
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...Mr. Thornton visits the Hales, bringing the address of a doctor Mrs. Thornton has recommended. Mr. Hale asks about the strike, and Mr. Thornton immediately “assumed a likeness to his mother’s worst... (full context)
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Mr. Hale speaks up to add that he has been “struck by the antagonism between the employer... (full context)
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...them in that state, and that a “wise despotism” is the best government for them. Mr. Hale says it seems to him that the “children” are becoming adolescents, for whom friendship and... (full context)
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...imagine this is a stronger feeling in the North of England than in the South.” Mr. Hale suggests that this fear of interference stems from too little “equality of friendship between the... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...the grandeur she can and asks the doctor to share the news with her, since Mr. Hale is not home. Dr. Donaldson argues that Mrs. Hale had specifically requested that Margaret not... (full context)
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...for a few moments, wondering how she will bear to watch Mrs. Hale’s suffering and Mr. Hale ’s corresponding agony. She decides that her father must not be told the news just... (full context)
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...people I love; it’s missus, Master Frederick, and her. Just them three.” She supposes that Mr. Hale was born in order to marry Mrs. Hale, but Dixon doesn’t love him because “he... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...Margaret warns her not to judge. She confides in Bessy about Mrs. Hale’s deathly illness, Mr. Hale ’s ignorance of the dire situation, and Frederick’s exile. She asks Bessy, “Do I not... (full context)
Chapter 18
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When Margaret gets home, Mr. Hale asks about Dr. Donaldson’s visit, and Margaret downplays the gravity of Mrs. Hale’s condition. Her... (full context)
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...sure what to make of the Hales, and her son’s regard for them. She finds Mr. Hale “rather too simple for trade,” Mrs. Hale “a bit of a fine lady, with her... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...raising the family’s hopes. In contrast, gloom has descended on Milton because of the strike. Mr. Hale often talks with Mr. Thornton about the underlying economic principles of the strike. When Margaret... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...comes home with news of the Bouchers’ plight, Mrs. Hale sends them a basket, and Mr. Hale goes to visit the family the next day. Returning home, Mr. Hale says that he... (full context)
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Mr. Hale and Margaret go to the Thorntons’ dinner party. Margaret is struck by the excessive ornament,... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Margaret and Mr. Hale talk about Thornton as they walk home. Mr. Hale thinks that Thornton looked anxious that... (full context)
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When Margaret and Mr. Hale get home, they are met by an anxious Dixon. Dr. Donaldson is there; he has... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...specifically asking how Margaret is doing. Margaret reports that she’s doing perfectly well. After bidding Mr. Hale goodnight, Margaret finally “[releases] her strong will from its laborious task.” She retreats to bed... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...way to bring Frederick home for a visit before she dies. Margaret promises, and, since Mr. Hale has gone out, it falls to her to write and send a letter to Frederick. (full context)
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Mr. Hale overtakes Margaret as she is walking home from the post office. When Margaret tells him... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...quickly leaves without acknowledging Margaret. As the Hales sample the fruit and praise Thornton’s kindness, Mr. Hale remembers the currant bushes in the old Helstone garden. On top of the events of... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...to warn her father about the surprise guest. When she notices the slight “repugnance” on Mr. Hale ’s face, Margaret urges him that “he really is a man you will not dislike—if... (full context)
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When Margaret checks on the two men a short time later, she finds that Mr. Hale ’s courteousness has “called out…all the latent courtesy in” Higgins—who is, after all, neither “an... (full context)
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Higgins and Mr. Hale are discussing religion. Higgins says that if Mr. Hale had been born and bred in... (full context)
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...and, reason or no reason, I’ll cling to that.” In a muttered aside, an emotional Mr. Hale tells Margaret that Higgins is no “infidel.” (full context)
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Mr. Hale and Margaret change the subject to the strike. As they listen to Higgins, they gather... (full context)
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Mr. Hale thinks the strikers have made some mistakes in their understanding of wage levels, and he... (full context)
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Mr. Hale wishes that the masters and men might be brought together to discuss such things, so... (full context)
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...Higgins quietly promises Margaret that he will go straight home and not to the gin-shop. Mr. Hale invites Higgins to remain for family prayer, and Higgins wordlessly agrees. Thus “Margaret the Churchwoman,... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...Margaret must “act the part of a Roman daughter” to give strength to the despairing Mr. Hale . (full context)
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...in the house of mourning.” Margaret rejoices that Frederick has a knack for conversing with Mr. Hale , for nursing Mrs. Hale, and reminisces with her about Helstone. (full context)
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...for action fails him in the midst of grief; he can do nothing but weep. Mr. Hale just sits mutely by his wife’s side. Margaret finds herself reciting passages from the Gospel... (full context)
Chapter 31
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...helps Dixon in the aftermath of Mrs. Hale’s death, she has no time to cry—while Mr. Hale and Frederick grieve, “she must be working, planning, considering. Even the necessary arrangements for the... (full context)
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...has been lucky not to experience any great loss before this. Margaret tries to get Mr. Hale ’s input on funeral arrangements, but he doesn’t have the energy and refers her instead... (full context)
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...remarks about Frederick and what a disgrace he is to his family. Margaret, Frederick, and Mr. Hale discuss it and agree that Frederick can’t risk staying longer. (full context)
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Frederick expresses his wish that Margaret and Mr. Hale might join him in Spain, where he has a good position and plans to marry... (full context)
Chapter 33
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When Margaret gets home, she argues with Mr. Hale about attending Mrs. Hale’s funeral. She wants to go, but middle-class women don’t typically attend... (full context)
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After the funeral, Mr. Thornton approaches Dixon to ask how Mr. Hale and Margaret are doing. He is disappointed to hear that Margaret is bearing up well,... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Meanwhile, Mr. Hale and Thornton have a quiet and consoling chat that knits them more firmly together in... (full context)
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Margaret bears the burden of the entire incident herself. Because Mr. Hale is no longer a priest, Margaret doesn’t know how her father might respond to her... (full context)
Chapter 36
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The next day, Margaret and Mr. Hale go to visit Higgins, who is still out of work. Higgins explains that his former... (full context)
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Just then, Margaret, Mr. Hale , and Higgins hear a steady tramping sound and look outside to see six men... (full context)
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...to break the news to Mrs. Boucher, but he refuses to face her. Margaret asks Mr. Hale to go, but he is trembling and can’t think what to say. Margaret offers to... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Margaret and Mr. Hale return the next day to check on the Bouchers. Margaret befriends and comforts some of... (full context)
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...Margaret tries to encourage her father, saying that town life tends to depress people’s spirits. Mr. Hale points out that the country, on the other hand, can itself have a stagnating effect... (full context)
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Higgins explains to Mr. Hale that he’s been seeking work for the sake of Boucher’s widow and children. “I reckon,”... (full context)
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...manufacturing wages. Moreover, a man like Higgins couldn’t bear the stagnant lifestyle of the South, Mr. Hale tells him—“The hard spade-work robs their brain of life; the sameness of their toil deadens... (full context)
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...the entrance of Marlborough Mills all day until Thornton talks with him. After Higgins leaves, Mr. Hale observes that Higgins admires the part of Thornton that is most like himself—his stubbornness. (full context)
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...his human heart, not with his master’s ears,” the two might come to an understanding. Mr. Hale teases Margaret that she’s finally doing justice to Thornton, which gives Margaret a pang of... (full context)
Chapter 40
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...man in Milton who knows how to sit still; and it is a great art.” Mr. Hale returns that Milton folks don’t think that Oxford men know how to move; “it would... (full context)
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...because he’s reluctant to see Margaret. Finally, however, Thornton and Bell join the Hales, where Mr. Hale renews that morning’s discussion of Oxford versus Milton. Mr. Bell jumps in by asking Thornton... (full context)
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...lack of humor, Margaret comes to his defense, saying Thornton wasn’t himself. Later, Bell asks Mr. Hale if Margaret and Thornton have feelings for each other. Mr. Hale is flustered by the... (full context)
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Thornton, meanwhile, seldom visits the Hales anymore, to Mr. Hale ’s regret. One evening he abruptly asks Margaret if she has ever thought that Thornton... (full context)
Chapter 41
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...had lost its elasticity,” and she finds no heartfelt joy in anything but caring for Mr. Hale . In March they receive word of Frederick’s marriage to Dolores; he has settled in... (full context)
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Mr. Bell invites both Mr. Hale and Margaret for a visit to Oxford. Mr. Hale, whose health has faltered from stress... (full context)
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That night, Margaret is strangely preoccupied with thoughts of her father. Mr. Hale is thinking of Margaret as well. The renewal of old acquaintances in Oxford has wearied... (full context)
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Before going to bed that night, Mr. Hale commends Margaret to Mr. Bell’s care, and Bell promises all possible help to his beloved... (full context)
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...the train, Bell unexpectedly sees Thornton. Thornton is silent with shock at the news of Mr. Hale ’s death and wonders, trembling, what will become of Margaret. Mr. Bell assumes that the... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Margaret falls into a state of physical exhaustion from the shock of Mr. Hale ’s death. Dixon and Mr. Bell discuss what’s to be done about Margaret and decide... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...Higgins stops by that evening to bid Margaret a warm farewell, and she gives him Mr. Hale ’s Bible. (full context)
Chapter 44
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...about the Hales’ family difficulties in recent years. Lennox remarks that he has heard from Mr. Hale ’s successor—“a thoroughly active clergyman”—that there was no need for Mr. Hale to have given... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Mr. Bell has a nostalgic dream about the joys of visiting newlywed Mr. Hale and Mrs. Hale in Helstone. He joins Henry Lennox and Margaret to go over the... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...changed, especially by happy signs of children, that it pains her less than she expects. Mr. Hale ’s old study is the only room in the parsonage to remain relatively unchanged, where... (full context)