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Women, mobility and modernity in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South

Parkins, W. (2004) Women, mobility and modernity in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. Women's Studies International Forum, 27 (5-6). pp. 507-519.

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This paper examines how Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North and South (1855) offers a unique perspective from which to narrate the dislocations and possibilities of modernity for women. The heroine, Margaret Hale, not only functions as a mediator in the conflicts and disruptions in the novel, she lives these disruptions, as represented first and foremost through her mobility: Margaret does not simply move from the south to the north of England; she moves repeatedly over the course of the novel. Emphasis thus falls on Margaret as a participant in, rather than an observer of, modernity and the novel can be seen as an exploration of the possibilities and limitations of women's agency in modernity. In offering a narrative of modernity from the perspective of the middle-class woman, Gaskell presents a complex and nuanced picture of women's modern life, which makes an important contribution to discursive mappings of modernity.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2004 Elsevier Ltd.
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