I started to watch the BBS series and I’m half-way through. Seeing the story brought to life has changed my feelings towards Margaret. I realize the series is only one interpretation of the book, but it made think I was too hard on Margaret.
Discussion Questions – Contains Spoilers
1. There’s much talk about all the deaths in this book. What are your feelings on that? Do you think they were necessary? Or too much?
I was shocked by all of the deaths in the book. What a sad, horrible time for Margaret! So many deaths seems over the top to me, but proves to be a catalyst for Margaret to decide where she belongs and with whom.
2. Was there anything that happened during this last part that you found surprising or unexpected? Or was everything very predictable?
If anything, I was surprised that we didn’t really get anywhere with Frederick’s storyline. It was kind of like, “Oh well, we tried.”
3. What are your feelings on the about face Margaret and Mr. Thornton have with regard to their financial status?
What I liked the most about their switch in financial position is that both Margaret and Mr. Thornton are humble about it and it doesn’t seem to change who they are as people.
4. Do you think Margaret is justified in being so anguished over the lie that she told? Does it mostly have to do with her feelings for Mr. Thornton? Or something else?
I do think that Margaret was upset about the lie because deep down inside she had feelings for Mr. Thornton. She seemed very concerned about his impression of her.
5. At what moment exactly do you think her feelings for Mr. Thornton completely changed?
I don’t think there was an “aha” moment for Margaret. It seemed very gradual and over time. When I started the book, I expected some kind of crazy passionate romance, but slow and steady is just as satisfying.
6. Discuss the character of Nicholas Higgins. What do you think about the relationship he has with Mr. Thornton? Did he change Mr. Thornton? Did Mr. Thornton change him?
I wasn’t expecting Higgins and Mr. Thornton to become friendly even though they both seemed like reasonable men. I think they really did help each other understand the different sides of the worker/manager situation.
7. How does Mr. Thornton’s views on the master/worker relationship change? Or. . .did it change? Did your view on this issue change as you experienced this book?
I believe Mr. Thornton’s views did change and that he discovered he could be an even better business man by establishing a relationship with workers.
8. Do you have a favorite quote from this book? If so, share and let us know why it’s your favorite.
I’m terrible at keeping track of quotes I like.
9. The ending! Are you happy with how things turned out? (Try not to compare with the movie here… that’s for a later question!)
I was very happy with the way the book ended and especially because Elizabeth Gaskell brings us to that critical moment when Margaret and Mr. Thornton come together and then leaves the rest to our imagination. It’s a delightfully humourous ending and I loved it!
10. What aspect of this book would you like to address that we haven’t yet talked about? Is there something we’ve skipped over in our discussions that makes you want to say… “Yeah, but what about….?” And if you’ve got nothing there, answer this: Did you like the book? Why or why not?
We’ve talked a little bit about the likeability of the characters. Now that we’re at the end of the book, I see all of the characters in a different light although I’m admittedly influenced by the BBC series. I realized Margaret has no friends and her loneliness must have been very deep, so no wonder she spent so much time with Bessy and Higgins. Her visits weren’t necessarily about charity. I realized that even though she freely gave her opinions, Margaret did so knowing she was going against the grain, that she would be gossiped about and was probably embarrassing her parents. But Margaret couldn’t help being herself and I admire her character for that kind of gumption. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, both for the social issues, the relationships and character development.
Ladies, what a great read-along, thanks for hosting!