E s379M • North and South: The Cultural Contexts of the 19th-century English Novel
Using Elizabeth Gaskellss 1855 novel North and South as our starting point, we will cover considerable ground, literally and figuratively, by exploring various early and late representations of these two cultures in the 19th century. Thus we will turn to the landscape of the south and its middle-class inhabitants in Jane Austens Persuasion (1818) for a glimpse of the cultural milieu that produced Margaret Hale, the protagonist of North and South. We will then contrast the genteel world of Austens heroines with the violent relationships of Emily Brontes Wuthering Heights (1837), a novel set on the barren stretches of the north Yorkshire moorlands. We will then revisit the south through the work of Dorset-born novelist, Thomas Hardy, whose novel, Tess of the DUbervilles (1895), narrates the life of its heroine against a world of increasing rural degradation, industrialization, and commercialization. The class will take trips to the north: Haworth (Bronte) and Manchester (Gaskell); and to the south: Chawton, Lulworth Cove and Bath (Austen) and Stonehenge (Hardy).