North and South

Fredrick Hale: Viewing North and South From A Transatlantic Lens College

Most literary critics agree that Margaret Hale is the central figure in Gaskell’s North and South. Margaret’s emotional, social, and psychological contexts are often analyzed with excruciating detail, as many view her story to be of principal importance. However, the narrative of Fredrick Hale, Margaret’s brother, should be viewed with the same amount of importance, if not more. Despite being viewed as a minor character, Fredrick Hale is the link by which Milton is connected to the rest of the global society. Through Fredrick, the conflicts in the novel are replicated on a transatlantic scale that is made possible by the advent of industrialization and capitalism; Fredrick’s narrative, along with his various conflicts not only mirror the context of the “Milton revolution” but also conflict in the United States and abroad. It is not often that minor characters receive five chapters devoted to them, yet Gaskell gives Fredrick’s narrative ample time to breathe. Some have made claims that Fredrick’s tales are strictly to obscure the central plot, yet they fail to look at Fredrick’s adventures from a more global perspective (Lee). By analyzing Fredrick from a global perspective, Fredrick’s narrative begins to imitate the bevy of...

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