This is how North and South presents the factory-owner's drawing room from Margaret Hale's point of view:

"The walls were pink and gold; the pattern on the carpet represented bunches of flowers on a light ground, but it was carefully covered up in the centre by a linen drugget, glazed and colourless. The windo curtains were lace; each chair and sofa had its own particular veil of netting or knitting. Great alabaster groups occupied every flat sirface, safe from dust under their glass shades. In the middle of the room, right under the bagged-up chandelier, was a large circular table, with smartly-bound books arranged at regular intervals round the circumference of its polished surface, like gaily coloured spokes of a wheel. Everything reflected light, nothing absorbed it. he whole room had a painfully spotted, spangled, speckled look about it, which impressed Margaret so unpleasantly that she was hardly conscious of the peculiar cleanliness required to keep evrything so white and pure in such an atmosphere, or of the trouble that must be expened to secure that effect of icy, snowy discomfort. Wherever she looked there was evidence of care and labour, but not care and labour to procure ease, to help on habits of tranquil home employment; solely to ornament them and then preserve ornament from dirt or destruction." (Chapter 15)

How do the details Gaskell provides create realistic description and what portion of that description depends not on material accuracy but on sociological and political placement of the material facts?


Victorian Web Overview Elizabeth Gaskell North and South

Created c.1994; last modified 25 March 2000

Last modified 8 June 2007