me + richard armitage + mr thornton’s kiss


From the beginning, this blog has addressed identity in different ways. Who am you, who am I, what is being, what is performance, what is the difference? Mr. Armitage, the upshot of my second viewing of North & South was that something you did suddenly made it okay for me to ask again who I was and to allow in the sensory data and emotional responses that would help me answer that question. I don’t know why that night. I don’t know why you. I don’t know anything. Why that kiss?

Mr. Thornton kisses like a persistent, gentle breeze whose intensity gradually overtakes itself before it breaks off in sudden self-awareness of the boundaries it crosses. Though he starts the conversation with insistence and a level of open, relaxed fascination, Thornton still has to catch his breath when Margaret kisses his hand, in a concession that takes him back, fuels the fire. The measure of the breath moves into his eyes where it gathers and flares before he opens his eyes, visibly moved, to try to regain control, to try to clear every thought but love from his mind. He steers the kiss with a stroke along Margaret’s face, with a brief look into her eyes, with a flutter of his eyelashes, with the tilt of his chin. Somehow he’s so vulnerable to me at that point, when I see what looks like a scar along the stubble, and his lips press hers so impossibly gently, as if he knows she wants what he will give but still wishes not to frighten her. Thornton touches Margaret without touching, caresses without caressing, and at first kisses almost without kissing — but tries to write all his soul on her lips. And as he writes, the kisses pour out until he’s breathing her in, eating, consuming past his own better judgment. This is how it is, do you not see? he seems to say, our new world as it could be– as he releases her, a woman newly created by his addresses, expecting that she, too, will see that he will make an entirely new universe for her with his ardor alone. And witnesses, bitten lip, a few moments later, when she turns back toward him, that she has grasped the lesson he tried to teach her — our new world as it will be.

Richard Armitage, Mr. Thornton kissed gently but you — the man who dreamed that kiss — you struck me with the force of lightning.

When I leave out all the other stuff — I still do think about this kiss that you gave to Mr. Thornton to give to Margaret. I still do think about who you are, how you kiss, how you are with your lover, how you approach, how you respond. I think about it even after encountering you in London, or perhaps because of it. Do you start slow, are you initiator or respondent, where do your eyes move first, what do they signal, what are your eyelashes wiping away, what tension does your forehead ease in that split second before your lips touch your lovers, how long can you possibly remain gentle when there’s something you want so badly, something you’re desperate to release? It’s that loss of control that you signal every time, somehow — in this case so gently — the idea that you could be come so possessed by how you feel, in turn so addicted to what you taste there, that your kisses become greedy, exploding the bounds of the world you create with their gentleness.

I know that the actor Richard Armitage said it’s easiest to play things that are not much like oneself. In fantasy, I want to believe that you build little mosaic pieces of you into the men who you play, kissing women, in fantasy, I want to learn your identity from your caresses, I want you to teach me all the facets of who you are, who you might be in the shards of your own fantasies, your own identities, into the dreams you dream for your characters, with all of your kisses from Thornton and beyond.

This, then, is my North & South anniversary — the epiphany that even as you struck me then, lit me up — still, whoever you kiss, you strike me now.

~ by Servetus on November 17, 2014.

19 Responses to “me + richard armitage + mr thornton’s kiss”

  1. What I just read was as beautiful as the kiss itself. Lovely to read. Really really lovely.


  2. You are good. Stunningly good. Pleeeease keep writing. Forever.


  3. Ich mag deine Beschreibungen sehr! Wonderful.


  4. It reads like a poem, so beautiful! A good start for my day 😉


  5. Oui, c’est vraiment tres poetique ce que vous ecrivez sur ce marveilleux baiser… Je me suis souvent demandee, moi-aussi, si je peux decouvrir dans les roles interpretes par Richard, quelque chose qui concerne l’homme reel. Il y a de quoi rever la-dessus…


  6. This is the most momentous and stirring kiss that I’ve ever seen on screen or actually had encountered in my whole (not quite sooo young) life. For a very long time it has left me utterly confused, flabbergasted (almost shocked), and with a desperate longing, that I never ever had experienced something similar. Richard’s gentleness and delicacy, his beautiful, tender hands, those caresses, and his responsiveness…it simply is overwhelming.
    Serv, you found such incredible wonderful words for all that is going on with this kiss!! Just such a delight and pleasure to read!
    Be still my heart…..


  7. Thanks for all the kind comments. It’s such a mesmerizing scene even if it doesn’t have that much to do with the period or the book …


  8. sigh How dare you! Now I have to watch the whole series.
    (After all those years I stil can’t watch this kiss just like that)


  9. I don’t know how Margaret can walk so briskly (walk!!) after being so thoroughly kissed like that.


  10. Beautiful encapsulation of a moment that I wouldn’t have thought could be adequately captured in words. Such a kiss. I’ve never seen anything like it. Your writing is poetry!


  11. […] to position his nose occasionally popped up, and several of them were deliciously over-engineered. North & South / Margaret Hale is maybe the most widely memorable one, but I was also seriously affected by the […]


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