|Byroic hero; Elizabeth Gaskell; North and South; female stereotype; Humanities; Languages and Literature; Humaniora; Språk och litteratur; English; Engelska
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This essay argues that the protagonist of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1855), Margaret Hale, is a Byronic heroine. The counter argument that any such comparison is impossible because of her sex is refuted and examples are given of how Margaret is not portrayed like the other young women of the novel. She rejects the female stereotype of the time and it is furthermore proved that she steps out of the passive role considered best suited for a female, and takes on the active one, becoming the heroine of the piece. Finally, traits of Margaret’s character are compared to that of the archetypical Byronic Hero, and it is shown that she shares most of the defining character traits. It is concluded that certain discord in the comparison is needed for the concord to be visible, but rather than being idealized, Margaret is portrayed as a flawed character that rebels against the rules of society for the sake of those she loves. This makes her a Byronic heroine.