Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Little Lit Rant on a Cloudy Evening

I’ve come to realize that my blog has become a “hub” of sorts on the internet. I see that people often come to me for the first time after referrals from the much-visited “Bronte Blog” as well as the blogs of my (few) followers. As my blog continues to grow in popularity a little more each day, I find it incumbent upon me to thank all of my regular visitors and fellow Lit lovers who find time in their day to stop by this little site of mine. I cannot even begin to tell you how it brightens my day to see new comments and words of encouragement when I log into “”

Blogging has been a truly incredible experience for me. Before I started, I felt like a useless teenager in a small town living a rather tedious life. Now I have the privilege of sharing all my thoughts on what I love best with viewers from different parts of the world. The fact that I’m communicating with people that live across the Atlantic is especially exciting to me. I have an unhealthy obsession with English Lit, as you all know. But I also have a great passion for the culture surrounding it. It is for this reason that I love all things European.

I love my country, don’t get me wrong. America is certainly a great place to live. Still, European culture has a rich appeal to me that I can’t seem to describe. I live in a country where Hollywood is highly publicized and commercialized movies are constantly hitting the big screen, but some of my favorite actors and actresses are actually European. Michael Fassbender is german/irish. James McAvoy is Scottish. Keira Knightley is from the UK. Another immense favorite of mine is the very underrated Richard Armitage.

It is in fact, RA himself that compelled me to write this post. I know that I’ve casted him as my perfect Rochester, but I also mentioned that I enjoyed him in the North and South miniseries based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel. I reviewed the book a while ago, for all of you who haven’t read it. However, today on a rainy day in the U.S, I found myself watching the miniseries and after turning the TV off and wiping the tears from my eyes, I felt the urgent need to review it.

The BBC is great when it comes to adapting novels to the screen, but it was at its best when it chose to adapt North and South. The book was splendid and ended up being my second favorite novel, but the miniseries blew me away. With a screenplay written by Sandy Welch (who also wrote the controversial script of the ’06 Jane Eyre and the most recent adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma) and a great setting in northern England, the miniseries was already destined to be good.

Casting Daniella Denby-Ashe as the main character Margaret Hale was a rather questionable move to some, but in my opinion worked in the adaption’s favor. The stroke of genius was bringing in Richard Armitage to play the glowering and multilayered Mr. Thornton.

There are some adaptations where departures from the book are deemed controversial, questionable, or just downright disgraceful. Sandy Welch took many a liberty in adapting the screenplay for North and South, and ALL the departures from the book paid off in a very positive way. Sandy even added new batches of symbolism to the film that weren’t existent in the novel. An example of this would be the motif of “looking through windows” that constantly reoccurs throughout the miniseries, but isn’t really touched on in the book. In some instances, Sandy departed from the book altogether in scenes such as the end the of adaption, or the meeting of the main characters. All these were very heavy risks that could’ve exposed the adaption to a lot of criticism, but ended up making the miniseries a masterpiece.

What I particularly loved about this adaption was that balanced its rather large departures from the novel in the plot by sticking faithfully true to the essence and appearance of the characters and settings. Daniella Denby-Ashe solidly played the stubborn and rather prejudiced Margaret Hale and Richard Armitage completely inhabited his role as John Thornton. The chemistry between the two leads was beautiful. The viewer witnesses before their eyes Margaret’s gradual transformation. Daniella changes her character one step at a time so that the audience becomes more in touch with the realism of Miss Hale’s journey. Richard Armitage BECOMES John Thornton. The emotions shown through his eyes are stronger than any words could express. This is essential to the role of Thornton because he is a man who represses his emotions until they burst their way out of him.

If any of you hasn’t read the original novel, I suggest that you run out to the book store nearest you and purchase it. If you are a true lover of Lit, there’s almost absolutely no way you won’t enjoy it. You could just watch the miniseries and be content, because the miniseries is capable of being watched alone. Still, the best effect comes from reading the source material before or after or DURING the miniseries (whichever way works best for you). I don’t care what order you choose to do it in, just do it! You don’t want to miss this.

That’s it for now. It’s still cloudy outside and I have nothing to do, so I think that I’m going to re-watch the 2007 adaptation of Persuasion. I’m sure there will be a review of that novel coming soon, so watch out for it. As always, comments are encouraged!


  1. I love reading your blog! Everything that's in it I love to bits, so I guess that's a moot point.
    I've been wanting to read North and South for quite awhile now. I remember coming across it on Youtube awhile back and then restraining from watching the entire thing because I'm one of those people who can't watch something before reading it - always feel like I'm doing an injustice to the author or something =S But uni's off for 3 weeks which only means one thing to me = more reading time! *dies of happiness*

  2. Also, yay Persuasion review! Be still my beating heart.

  3. Ha ha it's great to correspond with someone who dies of happiness at the thought of reading the same way I do. :) I'm the same type of person. I came to the North and South miniseries first and couldn't bring myself to watch it before reading the book. I was so anxious that I went and got the book the next day. I hope you like it. Persuasion is my favorite novel by Jane Austen. It really does give me chills.

  4. good review of North and South. I watched the mini-series first and then I read the book. I loved the symbolism that she used in the mini-series to convey emotion, etc. This is also another reason why I loved the 2006 Jane Eyre because she also uses symbolism well. I thought she was able to bring out the essence of the characters and the spirit of the book well. Thank you for writing this blog. I enjoy having a place to discuss classic lit.

  5. Thank you very much :) Yes, I loved Sandy's adaption of North and South, but I must admit that I didn't enjoy the screenplay for the '06 version of Jane Eyre. I loved the actors in the roles and everything was done rather well, but I was a little critical of some of the dialogue. I had to slowly learn to appreciate it.

  6. Until Jane Eyre 2006, North and South was my favourite period drama. I've already posted under "North and South Review", but I just want to add how important it is to read the book in order to fully enjoy the miniseries. This is particularly true with regards to the thoughts and motivations of Margaret Hale. She is a person who tries to be strong for everyone else, but has to keep her true feelings hidden. Unfortunately, this causes her to come across to others as proud and haughty.
    A more capable actress may have been able to convey her thought processes in her facial expressions, but I don't think poor Daniella was quite up to it. So reading the book is helpful in gaining insight into Margaret's mind.

  7. I understand exactly where you're coming from. Daniella didn't fit her role as well as Richard Armitage did. He overshadowed her in a lot of ways, which isn't a very good thing because Margaret is supposed to be the main character.