North and South
19th Century England was the home of many social and psychological changes. The beginning of the Industrial Revolution saw the division of England into two areas, the north and south. The rural, agrarian society in the south was seen as old and behind the times. The urban, industrial society in the north was seen as the beginning of a new industrialised future. Changes in society during this period of time can be observed in the prescribed visual text, the TV mini-series North and South, and the novel on which it was based by Elizabeth Gaskell.
In the visual text, the tree is hanging over the fence, reaching and spreading its branches from its place of confinement. This ...view middle of the document...
By partaking in these activities, she defies the social expectations of women, thus rendering a social change. She also becomes learned regarding industrial relations and political economy, by listening to and participating in dialogues held by John Thornton and his colleagues. Through Margaret’s education by these means, she changes the ways of thinking regarding women, leading a new age where women’s freedom and education begins.
The empty courtyard in the bottom of the picture symbolises the empty south. All of the activity in the picture is happening to the north, which supports the idea that the South is being left behind as the Industrial Revolution is taking place in the North. The people in this picture are all walking into the city in a straight line. This can be viewed as the people walking away from the South and into the North, and into the Industrial Revolution. An example of this in North and South is when Mr Hale uproots his family from Helstone and moves them to Milton. Before moving to Milton, Margaret saw Helstone as the ideal place to live. Film techniques used in the TV series mirrors Margaret’s views of the town, and the mise en scene reveals this. The town is always brightly lit with warm colours, and the shot is somewhat hazy, creating a heavenly atmosphere that reflects Margaret’s intense devotion towards the South. These scenes are in direct contrast to those filmed in Milton in the North, where the colours used are darkly monotone and the shots are always dimly lit. Margaret soon begins to love her new home in Milton, and when Nicholas Higgins informs Margaret of his intention to travel south for work, she strongly advises him against it.
I owe it to you—since it’s my way of talking that has set you off on this idea—to put it all clear before you. You would not bear the dullness of the life; you don’t know what it is; it would eat you away like rust. Those that have lived there all their lives, are used to soaking in the stagnant waters. They labour on from day to day, in the great solitude of steaming fields—never lifting up their poor, bent, downcast heads. The hard spadework robs their brain of life; the sameness of their toil deadens their imagination. . . .they go home brutishly tired, poor creatures! caring for nothing but food and rest. (Chapter 37)
Through spending time in Milton, Margaret grew to love her new home. When we first arrived in Milton, I was guilty of romanticising the south. I’ve got to work hard now at not doing the opposite. (Episode 4) Margaret’s conversion from Helstone to Milton demonstrates how people in the 19th century left the south behind to face their futures in the north.
The Industrial Revolution brought with it new technologies, one of these in North and South being the steam train. The steam train is a recurring motif in North and South, appearing at the beginning, end and throughout the series. The recurring image of the train signifies the impact of the Industrial Revolution on...