Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Margaret Hale

Margaret Hale, who has been living in London with her well-connected relatives. She received the upbringing of a lady. She is quiet but with a well-defined personality, which is enlarged throughout the novel by a series of new demands on her that require resourcefulness, initiative, and firmness of character. She is plunged from upper-class London life to lower-middle-class Manchester life, without any status or prospects. Nevertheless, she attracts two suitors, suave London attorney Henry Lennox and factory owner John Thornton. She rejects both, perhaps too decisively, preferring her independence. She has to learn to love, in the end, through being humiliated. Thornton, though rejected, still rightly honors her. Unexpectedly, her inherited riches become his reward as much as hers. She becomes many things to many people: a source of support for her mother, an intellectual companion to her father, a source of spiritual solace to Bessie, a source of encouragement to Higgins, and a challenge to the Thorntons. She absorbs northern energy to become a fully integrated young woman.

The Reverend Richard Hale

The Reverend Richard Hale, whose theological doubts are never really explored; in an age of growing doubt, they remain ciphers. The “bravery” of his decision is counterbalanced by his inability to tell his wife or to comfort her. He wins respect in Milton from both Thornton and Higgins, and he sincerely...

(The entire section is 584 words.)