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John Thornton and Soames Forsyte. The Women They Love.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve become enthralled with The Forsyte Saga and I’ve threatened to continue subjecting my dear readers to more scattered thoughts on the plot and characters, so here it goes…

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Today I will be focusing on the, in my opinion, central relationship in the series, meaning that of Soames Forsyte and Irene Heron.

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I’ll be doing so by comparing them to another favourite pairing of mine, Margaret Hale and John Thornton from North and South.

Let me start by stating my opinion and them I’ll spend the rest of the post trying to claw my way back up from the hole my statement has created.

The difference between the outcome of the Forsyte relationship and the Margaret+Thornton one is determined not by the amorous men, but by the women they loved.

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If we compare Soames and Thornton, they actually have a lot in common

Both are respected members of Victorian society, successful, admired and come from tight-knit families.

They are viewed as authorities, but deep inside they have issues of low-self esteem, though the origins are different.

Despite their cool exteriors, under those well-cut expensive clothes beats a heart full of passion and they both fall for women who society would deem beneath them as both Irene and Margaret are plain old skint.

What’s even more interesting is that both gentlemen develop feelings for, and woo, women who simply don’t like them.

Despite knowing that their affections are not reciprocated, but encouraged by others (Irene’s step-mother, Hannah Thornton), against their better judgment, they both propose marriage.

This is where the seemingly correlated stories depart.

I argue that it is Irene and Margaret who determine the outcome of their respective plots by the decisions they make at this crucial juncture.

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Irene Heron is under the guardianship of her pragmatic step-mother and they are living on a tiny income generated from her deceased father’s estate.

Mrs Heron is desperate to get rid of her beautiful step-daughter as she has plans to re-marry and feels that Irene attracts too much attention from men.

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When Soames Forsyte appears, a wealthy bachelor from a prominent family who is clearly enthralled by Irene, Heron’s widow bullies Irene into accepting the man who is so very different from what she envisioned her true love to be.

It’s this crucial decision to marry a man she doesn’t even like that sets the stage for all the following events.

In her last act of independence, or maybe in an act of sheer desperation, Irene forces Soames to promise that he will let her go if their marriage is not a success.

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Although Soames seems like a man who keeps his word, she would soon learn that her husband is nicknamed The Man of Property for a reason and that he would never allow that which he possesses to be taken away from him.
Therefore, Irene is trapped in an unhappy marriage to a man who, although passionately in love with her, makes her skin crawl.

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When John and Margaret find themselves at the point where marriage seems like the most logical option, and Miss Hale’s reputation hangs in the balance, instead of taking the easy way out, she acts on her pride and stubborn nature to decline his offer.

Of course Margaret is in slightly different circumstances than Irene as she has the support of her family and her financial situation does not force her to accept the marriage proposal from a wealthy bachelor.

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Let’s for a moment, as some N&S fanfiction authors have before, imagine how the story would progress had Margaret accepted Thornton.

She would be tied to a man that she, of her own admission, didn’t like and felt was beneath her, someone who was in trade and would treat her as a commodity to acquire.
By moving to Marlborough Mills she’d lose her independence and would be forced to become a member of a tight-knit family who thought very little of her.

Forced into such circumstances, the natural growth of affection that we observe in Gaskell’s story, would probably never have taken place.

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Mr Thornton would marry the woman he so passionately loved and desired, but would have to be aware that circumstances, and not her affections, drove her into wedlock.

From what we know about Margaret’s character, if forced to marry John, I venture a guess that she’d have no qualms about expressing her misery and, apart from doing her wifely duties, she’d be unable to form any attachment to him.
What’s more this situation would have been made much more difficult because of Hannah Thornton.

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Although the Forsyte family is very close, and meddling in the affairs of the members is almost like a sport, I felt Irene was supported by them till the moment she ran away (and, in some cases, even beyond that point).

This is evident when Irene discusses her failed marriage with June Forsyte and Soames’ mother.

They both, in their own way, try to help Irene in her misery, offering very different solutions to the crises she had found herself in.

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Margaret would have been offered no such comfort from the women around her.

Of course, one may argue, that once married Thornton would never treat his wife as Soames did Irene.
I’d hate to give the impression I believe John would exhibit the same possessive behaviour by smothering his wife and forcing himself on her.

The relationship between Thornton and his mother proves that he regarded women as his equal and I think he would extend that to his wife, although he adopted a paternalistic approach to Fanny.

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 I believe that John would have offered Margaret as much space and freedom as the times and social conventions would have allowed him.

One thing, though, that the men have in common is they’d both  find themselves under one roof, and in such close proximity, to the women they desire and yet cannot have.

Perhaps in hopes of warming Margaret’s heart, Thornton would have taken actions which could be deemed beneath him, but I’d like to think he’d wait patiently for Margaret to discard her prejudices and open up to him.

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Nevertheless, I truly believe that had it not been for Margaret’s stubborn nature, her disregard for what was appropriate, her recklessness at rejecting a man who was such a good match, she saved them both from a miserable marriage and allowed for events to unfold as they learned more about each other, culminating in some juice kissing and a marriage founded on love.

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Had Irene taken a leaf from Margaret’s book and found the courage to reject Soames despite the pressures, I think she would have encountered a like-minded man, an artistic soul with whom she would have formed a happy marriage with.

Despite being Irene Frostbite rather than Forsyte throughout her marriage to Soames, we learn that she is capable of great passion towards the man she loves.

Had she been released from the prison her marriage had locked her into, I truly believe she would’ve learn to think better of Soames and both of them could have moved with their lives rather than linger in painful limbo.

Speaking  of the possessive smotherer, undeterred by rejection, he would have probably found another object of desire to add to his collection to stifle, another piece of pretty property that would have complemented his position in society.

More importantly, he would have found a woman willing to subject to his vision of what a marriage should be, one who could settle for being merely his wife and a mother to his sons.

In other words, had Irene and Soames stayed true to their hearts, they would have got their ‘happily ever after’.

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If you haven’t seen The Forsyte Saga, you can watch the episodes on YT.

To read more about the concept of love and marriage in The Forsyte Saga, check out  this great post by Feminéma.

Wrapped up in Thornton on Valentine’s Day

Wrapped up in Thornton on Valentine’s Day

I still need more of your face/body parts for my FanstRA4 project, so please send them my way!

Thank You! to all of you who have but you! *knocks on the screen*  yeah YOU!

Yes, YOU!

I haven’t got your pics yet!

Send them my way please 🙂

John Thornton Richard Armitage Valntine's Day North and South

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ve actually been getting into a frisky romantic mood in the past few weeks, probably due to a need to escape the pressures of RL and exams and such nonsense.

My go-to haven turned out to be North and South, and once again, Mr Thornton kissed and made it all better (although no train stations were involved this time around…).

I tend to rewatch this BBC mini-series about 4 times a year, and when the time comes to pop it into the DVD or my laptop, a girl just knows.

There an itch that only a cravat can scratch.

There are emotions that are forgotten more than a pair of worn leather gloves, and they need to brought to light.

N&S is so much more than merely a love story set in a dirty smokey industrial hell of Milton.

I adore some characters, like the Thornton’s, at the same time I adore to loathe others, like the Hale’s (Yeah, that’s right! I said it! They need to ALL climb out of their self-important arses and get with the Milton program!).

Overbearing Mill master John Thornton North and South

As fulfilling as the series is, I decided to go looking for some fanfics that would prolong my N&S glow.

There’s quite a mixed bag out there, and I was horribly disappointed on more than one occasion when I got terribly involved with a plot (as in 3am and I’m still reading…) only to find out the fic had never been finished.

I’d like to recommend some N&S insipred fanfic, but this is by no means a full list.

Please add any other fanfic recs to comments.

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Let’s start off with something a bit saucy.

There are two stories I’d like to recommend, both dealing with the physical aspect of John and Margaret’s relationship after they get married.

I love me some smut, but full-blown slash doesn’t seem to work for these two characters, so I really enjoyed the following stories.

Take Her there with me by Redizded

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The story is an exploration of  how things might be between John and Margaret in terms of sexuality, taking into account their passionate nature, but also the strong Victorian inhibitions and rules that undoubtedly would have influenced any couples’ sex life at that time.

And let me tell you, Mr Thornton does not disappoint 😉

Touch by fiablue

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The story is set during the course of one evening.

Margaret and Mr Thornton are forced to marry as a consequence of their actions during the riot.

Emotions are still running high, and they are both having to make some big adjustments to their life.

It’s an interesting take on sexual tension and Victorian sexuality in general.

Plus, who could resist the urge to touch a sleeping Mr Thornton?

Lavender and Ink by  FadingWinter

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A quick one-shot in more ways than one…

Mr Thornton is alone in his office and can’t stop thinking about Margaret, so he decides to take matters into his own hands… *cough*

Sick of Shadows (chapter 1-8) by lettered

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I really enjoyed this fanfic, although it was never finished (but a girl can hope!).

Chapter 9 continues HERE .

You can find what the author describes as Victorian porn (bless her!) meaning the rest of chapter 9 HERE.

Poor Mr Thornton does the right thing and saves Margaret from ruin by marrying her.

This story is full of angst, and the misunderstandings are thick, but there isn’t much John’s love cannot conquer.

John Thornton, Look Back at Me  by Loyal Wynyard

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You can also buy the book HERE.

John is tortured by the loss of the woman he so desperately loved, only to learn that things are much, much worse, as Margaret is now a married woman.

A Heart for Milton by Trudy Brasure

You can also buy the book HERE.

The is probably the most famous continuation of North and South, and I really enjoyed it.

This tale unfolds the joy, hope, passion, and fulfillment of the love forged between John Thornton and Margaret Hale as the reader follows their journey through the uncertainties of their engagement to the trials encountered in their first year of marriage …and beyond.

Only criticism? Mr Thornton seems to be a ig fan of the missionary position… just saying it like it is 😉

Master of the Mill by whatcatydidnext

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Some of you will loathe the story in which Margaret has to get a job at the mill, Mr Thornton is enjoys some rough sexy time with a slutty Miss Latimer and I’m not even going to start on Henry.

I’m adding this to my rec list because it boldly goes beyond what we believe to be true about our beloved characters.

I hope you enjoy my recs and please feel free to leave yours in comments.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

On standing next to Richard Armitage

Yesterday I rewatched Vicar of Dibley, with the lovely Harry Kennedy *collective swoon*.

There was one thought nagging at me.

When Harry was strolling hand in hand with Rosie, I could help wonder height-wise, how I’d fare next to Richard.

According to IMDB Keeley Hawes, who plays Harry’s sister Rosie, is 5′ 10″ (1.78 m).

Remember that this is info from IMDB, so you need to give or take 0,5 inch 🙂

Anyway, that would make her more or less my height.

I think I’d look good standing next to Richard!

That’s quite a nice fit 🙂

A few centimetres shorter is Hermione Norris who plays Ros Myers 5′ 7″ (1.70 m)

I’ve always like the chemistry between these two.

I think they had a great working relationship because each knew they could kick the others butt!

Then there’s Marian, played by Lucy Griffiths, who is 5′ 6″ (1.68 m)

Daniela Denby-Ashe, N&S’s Margaret Hale is 5′ 4″ (1.63 m)

Dawn French, who plays Vicar Gerry, is the shortest from RA’s leading ladies, at just 5′ (1.52 m)

By the way, I think Dawn had to stand on a rather large box to balance out this promo image.

The things we do to snuggle up to a tall dark handsome man!

Images: RANet

So, which leading lady is closest to you in height?

Would Richard have to bow down to plant a kiss on your lips?

My North & South Anniversary 6/7. John Thornton, Manufacturer and Magistrate

You can read my post on Victorian wallpaper here.

John Thornton, master at Marlborough Mills, a prominent manufacturer, and a leader in the Milton community.

He is also the magistrate in Milton, which is  a great honour, and shows his importance.

No wonder Mrs. Thornton is so proud of her dashing son.

A magistrates court is a court that deals with smaller crimes like  minor assaults, breaches of the peace, drunk and disorderly conduct, vagrancy and minor poaching,  etc.

Victorian magistrates would generally deal with local cases, and if the cases dealt with are quite serious, they would be sent off to the high courts.

In Victorian times theft  was considered, even of the smallest amount, a more serious crime.

While prostitution was a summary offense, Victorians viewed it as the “great social evil” of the time as they struggled to deal with issues of poverty and deviance from the norm.

The magistrates sentencing powers was limited.

They would also hear more severe cases, then refer them to Crown court because the possible  sentence for being found guilty is higher than they can impose.

Local parish Constables were strictly limited by their immediate superiors, the magistrates.

In industrial cities, it was the successful middle-class manufacturers that were nominated for the post.

This meant a conflict of interests.

When workers wanted to state their grievances towards their master, it would be a fellow mill owners that judged the case.

Although we can assume that Thornton would be a fair judge, he also used his power to his own advantage.

By ruling that the death of Leonards was accidental, he saved Margaret from a further embarrassing inquiry.

This must have cost Mr. Thornoton a great deal, as he used his influence to protect the honour of the woman who had rejected him.

In truth, it shows that people of a certain class would act to protect one another.

Had Margaret not been present at the station, Thornton would have demanded a further investigation.

This is yet another reason why it’s good to be loved by John Thornton!

My North & South Anniversary 5/7. Wallpapering Milton

I’m still celebrating my 1st N&S Anniversary. In my previous post I talked about death in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution.

What is it about wallpaper that upset the Hale ladies so?

Why focus on the walls when you find yourself in a strange place, so far from the home you loved, in a sub par dwelling?

Wallpaper popularity saw an increased in Elizabethan England, although its history dates back to the Medieval times, when patterns were painted on walls, and woven tapestries were attached to the walls of churches and castles.

 It offered protection against dampness, and hid the smoke stains from the fireplace.

It also provided a decorative element and enhanced the room’s interior.

By the early 1700s, wallpaper became so popular, a tax was introduced an any paper “painted, printed or stained to serve as hangings.”

 The industry continued to grow with the rise in popularity, and the development of a printing machine in 1839 that allowed for the printing of endless lengths of paper.

The Manchester Exhibitions of 1849 added to their popularity, and there was an entire wallpaper section at Great Exhibition 1851, showcasing an overwhelming variety of design, probably much to Fanny Thornton’s delight.

Wallpaper could display new-found interests, especially those connected to newly discovered cultures within the British Empire.

They were also a reflection of prosperity and status.

Fashion dictated that a bare room reveals poor taste.

During the Victorian era, wallpapers fell into two classes: simple, meaning repeated geometric patterns; and complicated, which would consist of flowers, vases, shields.

 Many appeared three-dimensional.

A standard Victorian parlour would be full of ornamented furniture, with knickknacks cluttering the surfaces.

The wallpaper meant to embellish this design, and to imitate fabrics, drapery, and architectural mouldings.

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Others were to give the impression of marble, wood grain, leather or damask.

Mrs. Hale and Margaret chose a paper that most resembled the one at Helston. As we know, almost, but not quite.

It would stand to reason that Milton taste would differ from that of the south.

 As Fanny states, the fashion is the same, although it arrives in Milton delayed.

 John Thornton concludes: “On behalf of Milton taste, I’m glad we almost past muster”.

The paper chosen by the Hale family depicts a floral pattern on a beige background.

It would have been a point of honour for the Hale ladies to entertain their guests in an environment that reflected their status and social standing.

For more on the history of wallpaper, visit the V&A page

I believe I have seen hell and it’s white, it’s snow-white.

I don’t know about you, but it’s close to -30 C which is about -22 F in my neck of the woods

We’ve had snow and frost…

 I wake up in the morning and think with a shudder that I have to abandon a bed I’ve spent the last 8 hours heating up…

Margaret says it best:  I wish I could tell you how lonely I am. How cold and harsh it is here.

Everywhere there is conflict and unkindness.

I think God has forsaken this place. I believe I have seen hell and it’s white, it’s snow-white.

To remedy the frost I intend to keep myself warm with a nice cup of tea, happy thoughts and a few hours with…

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