He never looked at her; and yet, the careful avoidance of his eyes betokened that in some way he knew exactly where, if they fell by chance, they would rest on her. If she spoke, he gave no sign of attention, and yet his next speech to any one else was modified by what she had said; sometimes there was an express answer to what she had remarked, but given to another person as though unsuggested by her.
↳ You think that because you are rich, and my father is in… reduced circumstances, that you can have me for your possession! I suppose I should expect no less from someone in trade! I don’t want to possess you! I wish to marry you because I love you!
“He could not forget the touch of her arms around his neck, impatiently felt as it had been at the time; but now the recollection of her clinging defence of him seemed to thrill him through and through, to melt away every resolution, all power of self-control, as if it were wax before a fire.”
– North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
I know we all love the train scene and the “look back at me” scene and john and margaret’s character growth and dozens of other memorable moments but this miniseries has so many wonderful asides I wanted to mention a few:
1. HANDS! HANDS! SO MANY HANDS! the best hands.
because honestly, if there’s one thing this period drama excels at it’s the PINING.
2. those shots of margaret and john sleeping at their desks
3. alll the letters that margaret and edith write to each other.
letter writing was an important aspect of female relationships (among women who could read and write) and I like that their letters are the narrator’s voice.
4. was it normal for men to travel with open collars in 1855? asking for a friend.
5. how margaret is allowed to be tired.
she’s busy, okay? she’s washing curtains and helping her mother and father and smuggling her brother into the country and attending parties and making friends with union members. girl deserves that nap.
6. thornton’s complete lack of chill whenever margaret shows up
margaret: your mother has kindly given me the name of a doctor. john: you’re ill?!
beeeeee cool soda pop. for the record, for a 19th century hard-nosed manufacturer this face is the equivalent of “GOD PLEASE GOD NO” from michael scott.
7. the soft implication of john keeping his mother and sister in comfort while he pursues education as an adult -
because of the hardship they went through when his father died :(
8. nicholas “number one john/margaret shipper” higgins
thornton: was miss hale the woman who told you to come to me? you might have said. higgins: and you’d have been a bit more civil?
you cheeky bastard.
but let’s not forget “ohhhh yes, she has a brother, he was here, ah, just about that time the mother was dying, ah yes, very secret, hush hush, she had to smuggle him out, just thought you’d like to know for nooooo reason whatsoever” I mean come on nicholas, be more transparent :D
obviously he’s not on board episodes 1-3 what with the whole union strike but boy by episode 4, higgins has two missions - feed boucher’s children and get his OTP together. and he gets both done.
9. on a related note - how all of john’s friends and family are just like “dude, come on. come on. be more obvious. we dare you.”
or, if you’re john’s mother oh god no not this again. “if you would let us alone, perhaps we might see her merits and like her.” damn lady. exactly how much does john talk about margaret hale???
10. this is a sad one but - margaret giving bessy some of her old handkerchiefs and bessy holding one in her dying clasp, my emotions
11. margaret’s absolute exhaustion at men proposing marriage to her.
“oh not this again.”
12. the grudging respect margaret and mrs. thornton develop for each other
“you once accused me of not knowing what kind of man I’d rejected. you were right. but if you think I’ve come to triumph over him, that I do not feel keenly the misfortune of this empty place, then you don’t know me at all.”
also check out how their dresses are almost identical in their last shot together. they’re finally on the same page.
13. the entire framing of john and margaret as hades and persephone, and how margaret chooses to go back north, away from the spring.
she goes from “I believe I’ve seen hell. and it’s white. it’s snow white.” to “I have a business proposition.” persephone chooses “hell” and I love it.