I've forsaken kdramas for a couple of weeks now and jumped on the Brit drama train instead. Dunno why… I just did. I started off with the obvious Austen stuff, dabbled in George Elliot (just one which I disliked, really), and now find myself at the Elizabeth Gaskell stop. And in this short time, Mr. Darcy somehow managed to get dethroned TWICE. First by Mr. Knightley of Emma, then by Mr. Thornton of North & South. Most people probably overlook Elizabeth Gaskell but if you like Brit lit, you should really try her out. I never thought it possible to have both Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice in the same world but it somehow works marvellously in N&S. I'm still in the process of reading the novel, but from the adaptation, I can say N&S is a grittier, less shallow version of P&P.
I know, the title is drab and boring and brings to mind the picture of a musket. But you must trust me. This time, it's the heroine who goes to the hero's "less cultured" neck of the woods. She who idealized her Southern homeland, he who is proud of his Northern ways. But the relative advantage one has over the other isn't so clear-cut here. He may be wealthier, but she is more learned. She may be from London, but he's king of the town in Milton. She thinks he has his options; he thinks she's too good for him. And then there's the botched proposal. Which isn't really a spoiler (the botched part that is) because you'll know it's a train wreck waiting to happen when you get to that point. The hope, the fear, the anguish… all the emotions just come crashing out like a broken dam. V.v. different from the restricted P&P sequence which was more like suppressed furor. I sometimes wonder how Lizzy managed to say that mouthful of rejection so eloquently. And then, in N&S people don't attend dances, they go to cotton mills and cough their lungs out. The hero doesn't inherit, he earns and saves. The heroine doesn't observe, she experiences. There are poverty and turmoil, union strike and mutiny. Suddenly the scandal of Wickham & Lydia seems trite compared to… oh, real conflicts.
And of course there's Mr. John Thornton. Uncouth, uneducated, a far cry from polished Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. And there lies his charm. He's never ashamed of who he is or what he does, but there underneath the unapologetic severe ethics is a humbling insecurity in him that he may never be good enough for her. When Mr. Darcy proposed, he hadn't thought of a rejection. The turmoil was all about him and his to-be disadvantageous connections. When Mr. Thornton proposed, he had barely convinced himself there was a chance at all.
Fans of P&P (or Colin Firth), don't kill me. I'm the woman who owns 2 copies of the boxset, i.e. I'm obsessed enough to spend money twice on it. But if you're a fan, definitely check N&S out. It's what we like from P&P and much more. When it's not being intensely charged, this show has a way of being quietly heartbreaking as well.
What? Why are you still here reading my dissertation? Need more convincing evidence?
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