North and South

North and South

by

Elizabeth Gaskell

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on North and South can help.

Mrs. Maria Hale Character Analysis

Richard’s wife, and Margaret and Frederick’s mother. Though a daughter of the wealthy Beresford family, Maria chose to marry Richard, a poor country clergyman, and the two went on to enjoy a happy marriage. Mrs. Hale is a kind and gentle soul, but upon her return from London, Margaret finds that her mother has become increasingly fretful, given to petty discontentment about the family’s situation in Helstone and grief over missing her son. After the family’s emotional and sudden move to Milton, Maria’s health declines rapidly in the smoke-engulfed city; however, as she gets sicker, her complaining nature becomes quieter and more patient. She receives a fatal diagnosis from Dr. Donaldson about a year after settling in Milton and dies shortly after being reunited with Frederick.

Mrs. Maria Hale Quotes in North and South

The North and South quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Maria Hale or refer to Mrs. Maria 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 2 Quotes

“Gormans,” said Margaret. “Are those the Gormans who made their fortunes in trade at Southampton? Oh! I’m glad we don’t visit them. I don’t like shoppy people. I think we are far better off knowing only cottagers and labourers, and people without pretence…I’m sure you don’t want me to admire butchers and bakers, and candlestick-makers, do you, mamma?”

Related Characters: Margaret Hale (speaker), Mrs. Maria Hale
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

“I think, Margaret,” she continued, after a pause, in a weak, trembling, exhausted voice, “I am glad of it—I am prouder of Frederick standing up against injustice, than if he had been simply a good officer.”

“I am sure I am,” said Margaret, in a firm, decided tone. “Loyalty and obedience to wisdom and justice are fine; but it is still finer to defy arbitrary power, unjustly and cruelly used—not on behalf of ourselves, but on behalf of others more helpless.”

Related Characters: Margaret Hale (speaker), Mrs. Maria Hale (speaker), Frederick Hale
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 29 Quotes

“But, Margaret, don’t get to use these horrid Milton words. ‘Slack of work:’ it is a provincialism. What will your aunt Shaw say, if she hears you use it on her return?”

“Oh, mamma! Don’t try and make a bugbear out of aunt Shaw,” said Margaret, laughing. “Edith picked up all sorts of military slang from Captain Lennox, and aunt Shaw never took any notice of it.”

“But yours is factory slang.”

“And if I live in a factory town, I must speak factory language when I want it.”

Related Characters: Margaret Hale (speaker), Mrs. Maria Hale (speaker), Edith Shaw, Captain Lennox, Aunt Shaw
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire North and South LitChart as a printable PDF.
North and South PDF

Mrs. Maria Hale Character Timeline in North and South

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Maria 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
Mrs. Hale , though kind to Margaret, seems discontented with her lot in Helstone, complaining that the... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
One day in the fall, when Mrs. Hale complains that there are no cultivated neighbors nearby, Margaret says she is glad that they... (full context)
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...Hale withdraws into his library, there aren’t many good books for her to read, and Mrs. Hale isn’t a very engaging companion. Margaret notices that her father has been even more preoccupied... (full context)
Chapter 3
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...expected, as back-ground and frame-work for Margaret, herself so queenly.” When Margaret goes to fetch Mrs. Hale , she finds her mother in a fitful mood, so she decides to take Henry... (full context)
Chapter 4
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...to a crisis. He admits that he has been too much a coward to tell Mrs. Hale the news. He explains that they will be moving to the manufacturing town of Milton-Northern,... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Mr. Hale asks Margaret if she will mind breaking the news to Mrs. Hale . Margaret “[shrinks] from it more than from anything she had ever had to do... (full context)
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
They agree that leaving within a fortnight will be best, and that Margaret must tell Mrs. Hale by the following evening. Though resigned, Margaret can’t help another passionate outcry: “You cannot mean…to... (full context)
Chapter 5
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
While Margaret knows that her father would have delayed telling Mrs. Hale the news until the last possible moment, she is “of different stuff” and breaks it... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Mrs. Hale is impatient and dismissive of Mr. Hale’s religious doubts and hurt by his failure to... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
...with a timid look “almost pitiful to see in a man’s face,” and Margaret leaves Mrs. Hale weeping on his chest. She retreats to her room and finally lets go of her... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Mrs. Hale becomes too ill from stress to be of use, and Mr. Hale is too depressed... (full context)
Chapter 6
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...time. When they arrive in London, they pass familiar houses and shops, and even acquaintances; Mrs. Hale even spots Henry Lennox passing by in the street. Margaret thinks of him as “a... (full context)
Chapter 7
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...them. When they return to Heston that evening, Margaret struggles to describe Mr. Thornton to Mrs. Hale . She says that he is about thirty, “not quite a gentleman,” with an inflexible... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...saying that the Milton manufacturers are very different from tradesmen. Margaret concedes. She also warns Mrs. Hale about the gaudy wallpaper in their new home. But when they arrive to settle in... (full context)
Chapter 9
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
The next day, Mr. Hale announces, to Mrs. Hale ’s dismay, that he has invited Mr. Thornton to tea for that night. Based on... (full context)
Chapter 11
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...them different,” or to give them any of the advantages he had enjoyed in boyhood. Mrs. Hale is surprised at Margaret’s comments, given Margaret’s earlier attitude about “shoppy people,” and thinks that... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Margaret goes to bed worrying about Mrs. Hale , whose health appears to be suffering from the smoky air and heavier domestic strain... (full context)
Chapter 12
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Though Thornton has asked her to, Mrs. Thornton is reluctant to call on Mrs. Hale and Margaret. She makes a big deal about whether the visit is important enough to... (full context)
Chapter 13
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
From that day forward, Mrs. Hale increasingly becomes an invalid herself. As Margaret thinks back to Edith’s wedding a year ago,... (full context)
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Mr. Hale, however, appears to be willfully blind to Mrs. Hale ’s condition, and is even irritated when Margaret expresses anxiety. Nevertheless, he says sadly, “I... (full context)
Chapter 14
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
As her illness advances, Mrs. Hale begins to confide in Margaret more and more. One evening, she begins talking about Frederick—the... (full context)
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Margaret brings the “yellow, sea-stained letters.” As Mrs. Hale looks through them, Mrs. Hale tells Margaret what Frederick experienced at sea. Frederick, she explains,... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Margaret agrees with Mrs. Hale ’s assessment of Frederick’s actions. “Loyalty and obedience to wisdom and justice are fine,” she... (full context)
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Mrs. Hale longs to see Frederick again, but knows that some of his shipmates have been apprehended... (full context)
Chapter 15
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
When Mrs. Thornton 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.... (full context)
Chapter 16
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
...Dr. Donaldson, the doctor Mrs. Thornton has recommended, pays a visit. Margaret is excluded from Mrs. Hale ’s room while he is there. After the doctor finishes his examination, Margaret summons all... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Margaret sheds just a few tears before gathering herself and questioning Dr. Donaldson about Mrs. Hale ’s prognosis. He explains that the degree of suffering is difficult to predict, but that... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...and prays in private 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... (full context)
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Mrs. Hale reflects that she will never see Helstone again, and that this is a just punishment... (full context)
Chapter 17
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...known want or care, 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... (full context)
Chapter 18
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
...gets home, Mr. Hale asks about Dr. Donaldson’s visit, and Margaret downplays the gravity of Mrs. Hale ’s condition. Her heart aches,  however, to see that he is restless and anxious for... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...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 invalidism,” and Margaret a puzzle, since she... (full context)
Chapter 19
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Although she is not going herself, Mrs. Hale has a young girl’s enthusiasm for the upcoming dinner party, fretting about what Margaret will... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
At home, Mrs. Hale has responded well to Dr. Donaldson’s medications, raising the family’s hopes. In contrast, gloom has... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...both grateful for Thornton’s compassion for her dying mother and resentful of his knowledge of Mrs. Hale ’s condition. She doesn’t know how to reconcile his pitying expressions with the “hard-reasoning, dry,... (full context)
Chapter 20
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
After Margaret 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.... (full context)
Chapter 21
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...home, they are met by an anxious Dixon. Dr. Donaldson is there; he has given Mrs. Hale an opiate to relieve terrible spasms, but he says she will rally this time. When... (full context)
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
They sit up that night watching over Mrs. Hale , Margaret thinking how dreamlike the events of recent days now seem, and wishing she... (full context)
Chapter 23
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Thornton sends the water-bed for Mrs. Hale , as well as a message specifically asking how Margaret is doing. Margaret reports that... (full context)
Chapter 25
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
...of the Thorntons’ water-bed. The conversation gradually turns to the subject of Frederick, and soon Mrs. Hale is weeping and appealing to Margaret to find a way to bring Frederick home for... (full context)
Chapter 27
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...In the street he bumps into and chats with Dr. Donaldson, who informs him that Mrs. Hale doesn’t have many weeks to live. Thornton is shaken, and, though he has “no general... (full context)
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Thornton warmly presents the fruit basket to a delighted Mrs. Hale , but quickly leaves without acknowledging Margaret. As the Hales sample the fruit and praise... (full context)
Chapter 29
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
The next morning, as Margaret and Mrs. Hale chat, Mrs. Hale is displeased by the Milton “provincialisms”—“factory slang”—that pepper Margaret’s speech. Margaret defends... (full context)
Chapter 30
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
At Mrs. Hale ’s request, Mrs. Thornton comes to visit her the next day. Mrs. Hale has had... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
...to keep his coming a secret from all but the family. As they all watch Mrs. Hale suffer, Margaret must “act the part of a Roman daughter” to give strength to the... (full context)
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
...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)
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Dr. Donaldson warns that Mrs. Hale won’t live for many more days, and Frederick and Margaret grieve together. Frederick suggests that... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
In the wake of Mrs. Hale ’s death, Margaret quickly rouses herself to be “a strong angel of comfort to her... (full context)
Chapter 31
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
As Margaret helps Dixon in the aftermath of Mrs. Hale ’s death, she has no time to cry—while Mr. Hale and Frederick grieve, “she must... (full context)
Chapter 33
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
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 funerals because they’re... (full context)
Chapter 38
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
...idea of speaking to her “in the guise of a fulfillment of a duty [to Mrs. Hale ].” She wants to show herself capable of resisting the “glamour” she believes Margaret throws... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
When Mrs. Thornton arrives at the Hales’, Margaret has just finished relating Mrs. Hale ’s last days in a letter to Edith and is in a softened mood. Mrs.... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
...of walking after dark with a young man. Margaret immediately turns combative. She says that Mrs. Hale didn’t mean for her to be exposed to insults like this. As Mrs. Thornton continues... (full context)
Chapter 41
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
...Bell that, even if he could have foreseen what would come of his changed opinion—including Mrs. Hale ’s death—he could not have done otherwise. He might have acted more wisely in the... (full context)
Chapter 45
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
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 details of Frederick’s... (full context)