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John Thornton Meets Miss Hale, Mill Owner by Loyal Wynyard

Joseph A. Kestner , Joseph Kestner. The Eighteen Forties. The Eighteen Fifties. The Achievement. Of course the story of North and South is framed around a love story between Margaret and Mr. They are initially opposed and their first impressions of each other are not fantastic, but they overcome a lot of adversity in the story and eventually end up despite numerous circumstances. A lot of personal growth is necessary for the characters to be compatible and Thornton changes his ideas of his responsibilities to his workers, becomes more empathetic to his workers, and more understanding of the ways of the southern counties.

Their romance demonstrates that the north and the south can be reconciled in their ideals if some compromise and some improvement on both parts occurs. Toward the end of the book we see yet more growth from Thornton. Thornton and Higgins partner up and Thornton learns a great deal about what the workers need.

Margaret Hale

Thornton demonstrates growth and listens to the ideas of Higgins to build a dining hall to feed his workers. He retains more workers and can hire better workers with this additional benefit. Though his business is in trouble, he learns that his workers will stick with him no matter what and would be glad to work for him again in the future if they would get the opportunity. Gaskell demonstrates through Thornton the idea that Capitalism can benefit everyone and that wealthy mill owners, and everyone, in fact, should be more civic-minded.

It can be seen through analyzing the progression of John Thornton through the novel, and through studying the various parts of his character, that he grows and evolves throughout the novel.

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He progresses from a poor, uneducated, though hardworking young man, who cares for his mother and sister to a wealthy, educated, man who cares for hundreds of workers and their families. Through this progression, Gaskell seeks to demonstrate the responsibility of the Industrialists and the Mill Owners. She sought to show that an industrialist and a capitalist did not have to be synonymous.

He learns the trade and becomes acquainted with business practices and professional acquaintances.

At some point he opens a mill and becomes successful. He has become a self-made man. He is successful enough that he is a man of influence in town and Mr. Bell speaks highly of him. Despite his success, his workers, like all the other workers in Milton are unhappy.

Thornton has become a capitalist. Thornton has grown more successful, but has not grown in other ways. At this point, he seeks to improve his education. He becomes a pupil of Mr. Hale and begins to learn the classics. He becomes a scholar. Around this same time, he is introduced to Margaret and is struck by her.

He becomes a romantic. The story progresses, worker unrest grows more pronounced and a riot occurs. Thornton aids in suppressing the strike and becomes a strike-breaker. Through his relationship with Margaret, though it is strained, he forms a new opinion of his workers. He meets Nicholas Higgins and forms a working friendship with him. He listens to suggestions and makes his factory a more agreeable place to work.

He has become a friend of the working man.


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Eventually, despite economic hardships, he and Margaret finally understand each other. This is in no small part because of the growth and development he has gone through in the novel. He and Margaret are implied to have a successful business with satisfied workers. Thornton has grown and Gaskell has proven her point that industrialists must become better than they had been.

She has also shown that many traits can exist within an industrialist- a previously somewhat rigidly defined term. By evoking the multi-faceted traits of Thornton, Gaskell seeks to convey an ideal that other industrialists and middle class individuals could seek to emulate. Showing that the varied facets of scholar, romantic, and friend of the working man can coexist with the facets of industrialist, self-made man, and even strike breaker, demonstrate the argument Gaskell is trying to make in this novel.

That is, she is arguing that industrialism and capitalism do not have to come at the cost of all that is good in society. A man can be traditionally educated and a businessman.

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A man can be a friend to workers and a capitalist. If these things come together, then a successful factory with happy and contented workers can be possible. This is demonstrated in the contentment of the workers after Thornton begins to treat them better and feed them meals. Margaret holds him to a higher standard than most women of the time would.

She wishes him to be kind to his workers more than successful. She wants her husband to be educated.