A Riot in the Heart: A Favorite Scene in “North and South”

I love how Margaret scoffs at Mr. Thornton, saying “I’m not afraid,” as he tries to reassure her as the workers approach the house. How she humanizes the workers and scolds him for being the one without courage. How he goes downstairs without a word. Margaret and his mother are both proud and headstrong women and it’s sort of comical how obedient he is to Margaret’s command.

Then Margaret runs downstairs and out in front of him, and he sort of saunters forward, trying to stay in command and act the master. The workers ask if he will send the Irish home and he defiantly responds, “Never!”

But then his voice is hoarse as he tries to get Margaret back inside, but she will not be commanded, and oh, how I want to see more footage of that swirling embrace: how they are battling to hold each other and have his or her way.

And then the blow comes and Margaret collapses onto the ground, instead of into Thornton’s arms like in the book. Then it seems that he touches her blood and then touches her dress (there is a blood stain shown in a later scene).

Then Thornton’s devastating, “Are you satisfied?!” to the crowd. That voice breaking kills me every time.

I do miss the part in the book where he carries her back in to the house and declares his love for her while she is unconscious, but that would probably seem too over-the-top in film.

Here is the passage:

Margaret clung to the doorpost to steady herself: but a film came over her eyes–he was only just in time to catch her. ‘Mother–mother!’ cried he; ‘Come down–they are gone, and Miss Hale is hurt!’ He bore her into the dining-room, and laid her on the sofa there; laid her down softly, and looking on her pure white face, the sense of what she was to him came upon him so keenly that he spoke it out in his pain:

‘Oh, my Margaret–my Margaret! no one can tell what you are to me! Dead–cold as you lie there, you are the only woman I ever loved! Oh, Margaret–Margaret!’ Inarticulately as he spoke, kneeling by her, and rather moaning than saying the words, he started up, ashamed of himself, as his mother came in. She saw nothing, but her son a little paler, a little sterner than usual.

‘Miss Hale is hurt, mother. A stone has grazed her temple. She has lost a good deal of blood, I’m afraid.’

‘She looks very seriously hurt,–I could almost fancy her dead,’ said Mrs. Thornton, a good deal alarmed.

‘It is only a fainting-fit. She has spoken to me since.’ But all the blood in his body seemed to rush inwards to his heart as he spoke, and he absolutely trembled.

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One thought on “A Riot in the Heart: A Favorite Scene in “North and South”

  1. Pingback: Catch Me If You Can: Fainting in Period Drama « darlingdarling

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