Not Mr. Thornton’s favorite holiday

Brendan Coyle and Richard Armitage in episode 4 of North & South.

Mr. Thornton was emphatically not a union man and North & South is not especially accurate on the topic of unions or union-friendly. I remember back when I used to teach the series my TAs were often frustrated with how kindly anti-union initiatives were treated. I also remember a fellow fan who really hated Mr. Thornton because she couldn’t stand his politics.

So somehow I don’t think Mr. Thornton would be out there celebrating the achievements of organized Labor this Monday. Well, too bad! More Labor Day for the rest of us, even if organized labor is under severe attack in the U.S. generally and in my state in particular. Regardless, whether you’re working or resting on Monday, I hope you have a wonderful time at it.

~ by Servetus on September 3, 2018.

34 Responses to “Not Mr. Thornton’s favorite holiday”

  1. That is so funny, I was thinking of watching this tomorrow and I never even thought of the union connection! Maybe I’ll still watch it on my day off in honor of unions and yell at the tv whenever Mr. Thornton goes off on them…!

    Like

  2. he is a product of his time though, and quite clearly we see that he is quite different to the other masters-from the fact he actually cares if they live or die from a factory fire and the attitude he holds when he’s at dinner wit the other masters. Also we see he learns from Margaret that his workers are actual human beings that don’t deserve beating (not that she’s a huge amount either herself because she take the complete opposite view that the poor are so utterly incapable of looking after themselves thus need the intelligent rich to take care of ‘the poor wretches’. Admittedly, Thornton, even as a modern day master, however may well not be in favour of unions because sadly most big business is not

    Like

    • This is a complex discussion (b/c we have the novel to consider, and then the series as an adaptation of the novel). To some extent, Gaskell’s big theme is “reconciliation of opposites / let’s all get along” and that affects everything she writes and it makes it into the BBC adaptations. This leads to a situation in the 2004 version in which the masters in general are portrayed as much less cruel than they actually were, historically (this is what my TAs objected to). There’s some discussion of whether Mr Thornton is meant as a mirror of Robert Owen, but I’ve never been convinced by that position — he is too much of a capitalist. That said, the masters were considered cruel even by the standards of their own time — this is part of why the series lines the Hales up with the workers, and one reason that I assigned the series for students to watch. There are two things it understands extremely well that are of historical importance. One is the way that English society broke apart and reformed in the wake of the repeal of the Corn Laws (so that you have the gentry making arguments on behalf of the poor) and the other is the way that English class wasn’t solely governed by money (something that modern American students don’t really get).

      The other thing is that a labor union today doesn’t bear a big relationship to early labor organizations (except in terms of the kind of goals they have). So using our current discussions doesn’t really fit well with the series (e.g., it’s likely that both Higgins and Thornton would have favored so-called “right to work” laws).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Labor Day though (ooh i so want to spell it in UK English though!)

    Like

  4. Enjoy your Labour Day (shamelessly spelling it the Canadian way!). Workers’ rights are very important.
    As for me, I will have to do some work on Monday. I was just saying to my son today that (being in management) I was going to have to join the “Masters’ Union” so I could get a rest. I was remembering how Nicholas Higgins had told Thornton, jokingly, that if he kept taking an interest in the workers’ welfare that he was going to get thrown out of the “Masters’ Union”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thornton and I actually agree on something? Never! cough, I mean something other than what should accompany every trip made on a train…..le sigh.

    Like

    • If he were in today’s US political landscape he’d be a moderate Republican, someone like Mitt Romney.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LMAO Hey, I could have married him and stayed in the religion….of course he would have driven me crazy after twenty years and I’d send him to the couch with a WTF was I thinking.

        Like

        • I personally was never all that optimistic about the Thornton / Hale marriage. He loves mommy too much and she’s too independent and has way more schooling.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, she has more schooling but he is interested in learning since he sought out Mr. Hale for private lessons. So, I think we can safely assume that he would continue and catch up with her.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Maybe. But he has to run the factory, so he only has his free time. She will be pregnant in nine months. Most of her friends will continue to look down their noses at him, and vice versa. She’ll probably have to live with her mother-in-law, who will never miss a chance to make a dig at her daughter-in-law. She’s isolated from family and friends up there in the north. To my mind Gaskell’s view of the possibility that opposites will reconcile is way too rosy. Adults don’t change that much, even for love. I would have advised her to give him the money if she wanted to, but to look for love elsewhere.

              Like

              • Yeah but they were quite similar too; both stubborn, prideful, deeply loyal to their families
                somewhat reserved, he more emotionally detached than she (she was nicer to rejecting Henry’s marriage proposal than to Thornton)

                Like

          • Huge red flags….everyone ignores.

            Like

          • I always thought that her intellect and independence were the two aspects of her character that he was drawn to and loved about her. That she wasn’t like the other women who were seen but not heard.

            Like

            • And that will hold them together for about two years, after which these will be things that irritate him most about her. This is kind of a rule of thumb of relationship “science.”

              Like

              • Well that would explain a lot of my past relationship history 😱😛

                Like

                • I’m kind of old fashioned on this point and I’m not in the least romantic, but I think the best marriages are defined by shared expectations about things. A lot of that comes from sharing a particular social / class background. I just don’t think they would have been happy together for very long. But that’s not the point of art when we talk about relationships.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Oh I quite agree w you on shared social and
                    economic backgrounds are key to long term
                    relationships. I think that is what has worked for my parents although they’ve had ups and downs in 52 years which is normal. I am old fashioned and romantic and admittedly am still waiting for Mr Right to come along. I was w Mr Wrong and what I thought we had common interests turned out to be illusions and disappointment. But I agree w your literary assessment totally and I always wish for happy
                    endings in film and in real world although reality and fiction can be polar opposites 😉😀

                    Like

  6. Well, I managed to get through three of the four parts while my sister was out of the house. I had to turn it off when she got back because we had movie plans for the rest of the day, but I’ll try to finish it this weekend!

    Like

  7. Happy Labor Day, belatedly.
    I’ve always found it curious that Labor Day is such a big thing in the US – including a public holiday – even though the trade unions are so weak in the US. Or maybe that is exactly why Labor Day is big and needed?

    Like

    • Back when it was established (over a century ago) unions were a much bigger deal. I think now it’s mostly just the official end of summer holiday, equivalent to a bank holiday in the UK.

      Like

  8. 🙂 N et S perdure! (nb: subject about industry not unions)
    Je vous convie sur les traces de mon nouveau pélerinage, sur le parcours d’une aventure sortie des brumes de la révolution industrielle du 19°siècle et toujours vivante. Les fantômes de JT MH NH sont toujours présents.
    Au printemps dernier, dans le cadre du jumelage de nos villes, j’ai accompagné un groupe anglais, lors d’une visite touristique en Mayenne. Nous avons découvert un village très singulier, sorti intact du passé, au début, dédié à la religion puis depuis lors à l’industrie textile.
    Cela m’a replongée au 19°siècle, au temps de N and S. Une grande épopée industrielle et sociale, marquée par la volonté d’une dynastie de personnages hauts en couleur, de créer un village de toutes pièces pour les familles des ouvriers du textile (maisons, école, jardins ouvriers…).
    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontaine-Daniel
    https://www.laval53000.fr/dans-le-departement/communes-e-%C3%A0-j/fontaine-daniel/

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: