Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South was composed from the Nightingale family residence even as the war being fought in the Crimea (from 1854 to 1856) was making Florence Nightingale into a national heroine. Reading the novel in the context of the Crimean War and of Gaskell's involvement with Nightingale helps both to historicize the book more precisely and to illuminate the moment of its production. North and South occludes the foreign con�ict even as it takes advantage of aspects of that con�ict in order to tell its story of the "civil wars" at home: those between North and South, masters and men, past and present, and men and women. The reading culminates in an analysis of the relationship between Margaret Hale and Florence Nightingale. To consider the "thread of dark-red blood" that trickles down Margaret's face in the climactic riot scene of North and South as a replacement for the "thin red line" made famous as a symbol of heroism at Balaclava is to recognize the Crimean War as a part of the Condition of England.
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