Smashing Mr Thornton

I couldn’t believe my eyes  while I was reading a comment of one of my students to a post on Gaskell’s “North and South”. It was not a comment, actually, but rather, a deliberate attempt to pull apart piece after piece the romantic aura that surrounds Mr Thornton,  who actually shares the top step of the podium along with Mr Darcy for the most iconic and beloved male character of 19th century  English literature. He found faults in a man who has always been considered fault proof; he regarded weak the one who has always been the epitome of strength for any woman; he even found immoral traits in the uncontroverted  picture  and quintessence of  moral behaviour.

LADIES (angry): To the gallows!!!” “Blasphemy!!🤬🤬🤬

MRS TINK : “But, my dear ladies, calm down! I believe that even  this irreverent  young  man has the right to be tried first, so let’s hear what he has to say. He asserts that our minds have been clouded by the romantic charm of this character – well, that could be, especially since  Mr Thornton took the semblance of Richard Armitage, we must admit it –  and that, let me read, “the man appears systematically unable to take a single good decision in any field of his life”.

LADIES (super angry):To the gallooooows!!!🤬🤬🤬

MRS TINK : C’mon ladies, don’t rush into conclusion. He may have some good points! Let him speak his mind first and eventually we will decide what to do. Just cool down!(whispers) Ohhh, good ….so, he was just saying that some of Mr Thornton’s decisions were wrong…..

STUDENT (aside): All!😑

MRS TINK (To the student): Oh! Shut up! I’m m trying to save you from this angry bunch of ladies!🤨

STUDENT (boldly to the ladies): It is under everybody’s eye  that Mr Thornton’s business fails, can you prove the contrary?😏

MRS TINK and The Ladies: No, we can’t. But…..😧

STUDENT (more audaciously): Furthermore, he does not prevent the strike and hires the Irish in the mill provoking violent reactions.😏

MRS TINK🤨 : How could he have prevented the strike? He had no means to give the rise in salary the workers demanded and he was not alone in this, after all, there were other manufacturers.

STUDENT: “Yes,  but he was the most influent one, wasn’t he the magistrate of Milton? But, I have not finished yet. He proposes to Margaret even if he knows that she will probably refuse him and then he commits an abuse of power deciding not to investigate the same Margaret!😧

LADIES (in unison):  But he did it for love! He wanted to protect her! How insensitive!😮

STUDENT : I know, but that was actually a crime, or do you have another word to call it?😏

LADIES: We cannot listen to this nonsense any longer!😤😤😤

STUDENT (raising his voice): One more thing! He does not join his brother-in law’s speculation  and doing so, not only he loses all his wealth, but he also does not overcome the trauma of his father’s death. The very few good decisions such as hiring Higgins, for example, derive, directly or indirectly, from Margaret. Please forgive me ladies, but I did find hilarious seeing your romantic hero, the strong self-made man, the passionate lover with the endless sideburns, saved by a presumptuous 20-year-old girl from the South. Now I’m done. Thank you.😏😑😑😑


MRS TINK: (trying to break the silence). So you mean that Thornton is a loser .🤨

STUDENT: That’s what I mean.😑

MRS TINK: Well, I guess you should have thought about what makes Mr Thornton a loser first, in your eyes at least . To make you understand my point, I want to compare him to one of the greatest “losers” in world literature.

STUDENT: Who is it?🤔

MRS TINK: Hamlet. If you remember his story, we may say that Hamlet, to use your own words, appears “systematically unable to take a single good decision in any field of his life”: father, mother, Ophelia, the revenge plans etc.  He, actually, never truly acts, and if he does, it’s just because he cannot avoid it. Three seconds after talking to his father’s ghost, the initial flame of rage starts to put out and soon he feels unfit for his demand of revenge. Even in the last act, when he finally revenges his father’s death killing his uncle, he doesn’t even know how he found himself in that situation, as the duel with Laertes is actually his uncle’s trap in order to kill him. Have you ever considered Hamlet a loser?🤨

STUDENT: A victim maybe?🤔

MRS TINK: In a way he is a victim, but he is the victim of his conscience and conscience , he says, makes us all cowards, that is, unable to act freely, because we cannot avoid the burden of the moral implications of our actions. The ethical dilemma between what is right or wrong consumes our will, and thus “ the native hue of resolution, is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought”. Undoubtedly, the name of the comet star that guides Mr Thornton’s action is: ethics. He always tries to do what is right, even if he knows that it will not end up as he wishes, as in the case of Margaret’s rejection or when he hires the Irish. Had he been ruthless, he would have employed them much before, it is also because of this delay in taking this decision that he loses all. It’s in this constant search for the correct thing to do, his attempt to overcome the trauma of his father’s death.🤨

STUDENT(puzzled): So you mean that ethics and success cannot go hand in hand?🤔

MRS TINK: Correct.🙄

STUDENT: And that Mr Thornton‘s comet star is ethics.🤔

MRS TINK: Exactly.🙄

STUDENT: So, he is a loser.😑

MRS TINK😒: If you measure a man by means of his profits, yes, he is. But a man is more than the money he can make. I’m talking about other qualities such as sensibility, reliability, courage, sacrifice, the capacity to love; Mr Thornton is all this and more. Hence, he could never be a loser for us all, my dear. Never.😍😍😍

LADIES: To the gallows?😡😡😡

MRS TINK: No…….Student, stand up! You are sentenced to watch the BBC series again twice and read the book. You will produce then another comment on the topic and if we can spot some evidence of your redemption, we might even let you live. Off you go!



52 thoughts on “Smashing Mr Thornton

  1. Oh, those “endless sideburns”! I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the book without Armitage’s voice and face in my head.
    Your student has a point about Thornton’s failures, but that’s to ignore the economic and social issues Gaskell was addressing in N&S.
    But good tactic on your part, bringing up Hamlet. In fact, any tragic hero would do.

    • True. I guess Mr Thrornon is much indebted to Armitage for his success (and Sandy Welch). But my boy was very brave. When I read his comment to the girls of another class, who had clearly fallen in love with the character/actor, they were just enraged. 😀

      • In my opinion, both views I’ve read are exaggerated. I think that these views are too influenced by personal thoughts and that they are not so related to the scenes that I saw. My point of view of Mr. Thornton is the one of a man who never had in is life an example to learn from and his actions are guided by reason and instinct. In Italy we say “nobody was born learned”, every mistake made by Thornton has a rational reason behind and these mistakes are necessary to build his experience.

  2. Very interesting conversation! I have known nothing about this film or the book. It sounds like Jane Austin Novels 🤔 but I can say that Hamlet can’t be a loser, he was involved in a very dramatic shock which even pushed him to think about committing suicide: To be or not to be!😏 if you remember? He considered every possibility to overcome this pain. Anyway, you can be a great scenarist 😉🤗❤👍🌹😘

    • Some scenes from North & South echo Pide and Prejudice, for sure, and that is why the two main male characters are often compared even if they don’t belong to the same station. As for Hamlet, how would you call somebody who ponders about committing suicide, because he cannot cope with his psychologycal pain??😉🤗

      • Not for that. This scene, in which Hamlet says his famous narration: to be or not to be (as some take it for having fun) he brings up the choice for living on. As he continues: that is the question; whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles. And by opposing end them. to die, to sleep- No more- and by a sleep to say we end the headache and the thousand natural shocks… You surely know it well. The idea of “putting an end” is of course for a moment, and also not for psychological pain, but this is only a big shock, which man must master, and it can be not so easy! 🤔🤗😘

  3. I come from the real life “Milton”, so I’m probably biased 🙂 , but I quite like Mr Thornton. He’s a self-made man, not an aristocrat who’s accustomed to the idea of providing almshouses for old family retainers and so on, and his problem is that he’s so wrapped up in his work that he fails to appreciate the needs of his workers and how much they’re struggling. He does get there in the end.

  4. First: “… at your eyes …” should probably be “… in your eyes …”

    Second: I kind of side with the student. True, I’ve not read the books or seen the series, but I’ve read both sides of the argument (as presented above). If one is to judge a man’s character by his actions (which I do … and ladies’ characters, too), then I don’t see ethics driving his actions. Meaning, ‘trying’ or ‘struggling’ to be ethical is different than ‘being’ ethical.

    At best, one could employ the (dubious) argument of relativistic morality, but I’m not reading an argument for such a defense. It seems, again, in my limited understanding based on the above, that ‘indecision’ drives the man. One could attribute that to a struggle of ethics, but I see it as more of a failure in courage; the man has no backbone.

    Plus, what he does is, illegal. So, no backbone, and when he does act, he acts for personal benefit. A fitting description is ‘coward’, sideburns or not. One can then try (apparently) to blame conscience but that is not (in my book) a valid defense.

    Besides, here we’re resorting to guessing his motivation which, I argue, may not be ‘conscience’ at all, but the fact that he’s yellow through and through.

    And, really, he was written so because the book is about a strong heroine. The author believed she could be shown such only as a counterpart to a weak, pathetic, coward. A common mistake in writers who are not comfortable showing couples as equal. I think the writer would have done better showing two characters on equal footing overcoming adversity and circumstances . . . but they overcompensated (probably because of their inherent bias and wanting to change prevailing perceptions . . . but that’s just me guessing, and, I don’t know if I mentioned it, I did not read the book or watch any adaptation of it, so take that with a heap of salt).

    We could then go into how her character traits are also of rather dubious qualities, but that’s a topic for another post (from last year, I think?).

    • I guess it is clear that I actually loved his comment so much that I decided to turn it into this post. However, my fabulous student didn’t actually consider the implications of Thornton’s early life experiences. His father committed suicide because of his debts and left his family penniless, hence at the of 16 Thornton found himself in charge of the family.He had to leave school to go to work and eventually he managed to raise his family from state of poverty. Very likely he was’t very good at tackling the drawbacks of his challeging times, but certainly we cannot say he is a man with no backbone.( Don’t you dare!😉)

    • Hey, I’m just going by the above description. also, I seem to recall watching clips/scenes from either a movie or series . . . and not being impressed, but then, I’m a guy.

  5. I accept the fact that, in this controversial world, there are different thoughts when It comes to judge something or someone but personally I can’t stand the idea of Mr. Thornton being accused of “systematically being unable to take a single good decision in any field of his life” because even if he mistook as master, lover, brother and magistrate he got there on his own without someone helping him on the way, except his strict and supportive mother. Furthermore I do think that it is possible to be successful while keeping an ethic and the person who tried to do this at his best was Mr. Thornton.

    • I don’t think it’s shocking that this student found flaws and considered Mr. Thorton weak. I don’t agree with this student’s thinking, but at the same time I understand that Mr Thorton’s character is often “all hat and no cattle”, meaning that his appearance deceives all women who see him as a god. In my opinion, behind this apparent shield, Mr Thorton, is a weak and sensitive man, who has been forced to defend himself in order not to be trampled upon. But not because of his genuine essence, a woman must be less “attracted” to Mr. Thorton, so my idea of this man does not change, although I am sure there is a lot of insecurity behind that “Great Man.”

  6. Good evening, I read with great pleasure both the article and the comments, and I am impressed by the attention that was given to my observations. I must admit that, deep down, I hoped in such a result. I had imagined that a similar rant could have been like throwing a bomb into a kindergarten: loud, impolite and disapproved by many. However, watching the series, I could not avoid noticing the enormous gap between the impression that Mr Thornton gave me and the reality of his actions. At first, I actually fell into the trap of his romantic charm like everybody else, but then I rationally analysed the events, and the perspective completely changed. Proud of my unusual conclusions, I wrote the famous comment, without realising that my presumption had touched Margaret’s levels. Logically, my arguments had a sense, but I ignored a giant error that had been in front of my eyes since the very first moment: Mr Thornton’s charm is romantic. All the romantic heroes (and, more in general, all the tragic heroes) live in perpetual research, in a sort of endless tension to the infinity (the so-called “streben”) which does not necessarily imply real achievements. As a result, Mr Thornton’s goal, as a character in the story, is not success (the arrival point of his research), but the research itself, that is guided, as Mrs Tink says, by ethics. The impossibility to reach his aim creates sufferance, frenetic travail and self-sabotage. All these feelings give substance to the character and justify the dramatic dimensions of his sideburns. My error consisted of not trusting my own impressions, in a context that lives on strong feelings and irrationality. Now I am here, hat in hand, begging pardon in front of this pitiless court. Being punished with death would mean leaving this world for my irreverent ideas, which would be very romantic and would create a terrible contradiction because then you couldn’t avoid loving me as you love Mr Thornton’s heroism. So please, at least to preserve our rivalry, judge fairly.

    • If you’re trying to be more Thornton-like, you’re doing a good job of it.

      Personally, I stand by my conviction (in part arrived at by your rational arguments and in part by what is a weak and nebulous defense by those opposing it) as nothing has been said that would make me change my mind.

      After all, let us not forget that part of the job of the writer is to create the very flaws you describe so as to examine the conflict resulting from those flaws . . . to then deny the flaws are there does a disservice to the writer.

      Here endedth my observation.

  7. In my opinion, the student’s comment is a bit forced. Is he jealous of Mr. Thornton’s qualities? I will always love Mr. Thornton so, in my opinion, he will always bethe perfect and fantastic man of my imagination.. Maybe, this is my feminine point of view (because I’m in love with Thornton and even before I was in love with Darcy) but even if our “heartbreakers” are different and even if they have not always made the right choices, who has always been perfect? Anyway, you can learn from mistakes. P.s if all the female literature lovers had been perfect they would not have fallen in love with Mr. Thornton or Mr. Darcy (my love) ❤️😫

  8. in a story there are always two points of view at least… the student that made that comments, only focused on one of the two ,so if we consider only one of those, yes he’s right. But, we have to look at the all story, we have to be able to consider us like if we were Thornton and think what we would do if we were him and at that time, after these considerations, we can make a right comment.

  9. I think the boy’s comment is deliberately exaggerated, I say this because I can’t think the boy failed to contextualize the choices Mr Thornton had to make. Often those of the magistrate of Milton were not mistakes, but simple choices to achieve the minor problem. Sorry, man! If I were to find a flaw in Mr Thornton, perhaps it would be his arrogance.

    • Okay… I have to correct myself, although I still think the comment is really exaggerated I have to admit that it is still aN intelligent observation. For me, Mr Thornton’s are not mistakes. I’d call them more “forced choices”. He lived in situations where, despite the power he had was very important, he had to respond to very difficult tasks. “From great powers come great responsibilities” right? Yes, maybe before I was bad at commenting, but I have to defend Mr Thornton, I like mysterious characters too much!

  10. I think there is a truth on both sides. I cannot say that I agree with only one side. The boy is right when he says that Thornton’s business failed and that he didn’t stop the strike etc, but maybe he didn’t ponder that people have feelings and emotions. The boy says that Thornton commits an abuse of power by deciding not to investigate Margaret and claims that this is a crime, but I believe that he did for love and the feeling prevails over everything.

  11. The analysis of the boy is not complete because it doesn’t consider the human side of the character. He analyzes Thornton as if it were a question of estimating the efficiency of a machine.
    The student seems not to have understood how some of the protagonist’s actions are caused by his feelings and therefore not necessarily rational.
    I don’t understand how you can say loser to a man who has supported his family by working, made it to the top and even got the love of the much praised Margaret.
    Thornton is not perfect but the facts speak for themselves.

  12. I think Mr. Thorton is not at all a weak man and for most considerations I do not agree with the student at all. In my opinion, Thorton is not to blame for the strike, not knowing what would happen, and, when he realized that his industry was going into crisis, he made the right choice to hire the Irish. The only circumstance I think he made a mistake was when he didn’t open an investigation into Margaret’s case just because he loved her.

  13. I think it’s right that each of us has different opinions, they make the debate more interesting. After reading the guy’s comment and the post, I disagree with what he writes because I think he didn’t understand all of Mr. Thornton’s motives. In my opinion Mr. Thornton is a positive character who has gone out of his way to help his family despite his tragic past. Furthermore, I believe that every action of Mr. Thornton has a personal motivation behind it, for example when he did not investigate Margaret he did it for love.

  14. I think Thorton’s behaviour must be seen from both perspectives. On the one hand he knows what he does, whether it is right or wrong, it but it is also true that sometimes he falls into contradiction. It is also true that being such a fascinating figure one tends to overlook his mistakes.

  15. I wasn’t going to say any more about this but I noticed what I consider a disturbing theme in some of the comments. Namely, that it’s OK to be dishonest and lie and break the law . . . for love.

    I’ve replied tongue-in-cheek above, but on this point, I must don my serious face and state, unequivocally, that it is NOT OK, for love or other reasons.

    That is, in fact, what is leading us to a breakdown of society; the fact that personal interest is used as an excuse to eschew moral, ethical, and legal principles. It’s why we have a laughable “justice” system, and why people no longer trust or respect the legislative and judicial systems.

    Impressive sideburns or not, he done did wrong and no excuse should absolve him of it or of his now questionable moral character.

  16. I would probably have behaved with Mr. Thorton in many situation, seeing the bankrupt industry hired new worker to save his work. I feel like criticizing her arrogance and not having tried Margaret out of love, but maybe I would have turned a blind eye, too.

  17. Each of us has a personal opinion on the same concept and we need to be open minded and accept other ideas. In this case I don’t agree with the boy, I actually don’t see many failures in Mr. Thornton. First of all he couldn’t prevent the strike, but he even needed the Irish to keep the business up and to prevent a large debt. I reckon that the only mistake in Mr. Thornton’s behavior is to not investigate Margaret as he was the magistrate of Milton, but with a “girlish” point of view we can understand that he does this for love.

  18. Quoting Robert Evans: “There are three sides to every story; your side, my side, and then the truth”
    I’m sure that Luca’s statements are certainly well thought and true, as well as the common belief that sees Mr.Thornton as the “hero” of the story.
    Due to my experience and my character though, I firmly believe Mr.Thornton to be a MAN; his strong-willed temper, his pragmatic outlook on life are the result of his need to grow up as soon as he could and to face the troubles his father had left them all in.
    He is very proud of his self-made success, of the high position he has got to in society; but he is also a hard worker.
    There’s no doubt Mr.Thornton failed, many times, but that does not make him any less of a MAN. Actually I believe that what Luca saw as a weakness in Mr.Thornton is actually a strength of his.
    Instead of saying that “the strong self-made man, the passionate lover with the endless sideburns, was saved by a presumptuous 20-year-old girl from the South”, why not say that in the end, the noble and refined woman of the South, with a clearly astonishing education couldn’t resist the advances of a man, a worker, with a high sense of honor who follows those values in which he firmly believes and is capable of great generosity and is available in times of need?
    Isn’t that more romantic and yet still true?

  19. Yes, Mr. Thornton’s business fails, he doesn’t prevent the strike, he hires the Irish, he proposes to Margaret and yes, he commits a crime and etc… This guy knows his point… BUT I wouldn’t say that Mr Thornton is a loser, ever. This is because I personally consider the facts: after what he’s been through he has a home and he is the master of a mill, THE mill, and he actually is in love with Margaret, a loser would have never come this far in life. Now, Hamlet is a loser? Maybe the fact that he arrives to doubt about living is an evidence of his “being a loser”, but maybe there are losers more losers than Hamlet too (?). Anyways Mr Thornton is not a loser, he acts to do “the best and right thing” even if he doesn’t always succeed, at least he tried, and he never thought about suicide (like Hamlet). And, in my opinion, to conclude, Mr Thornton is the perfect example of how to start over from less than nothing, trying your best.

  20. In partly I agree with what this student wrote, in my opinion it depends on the point of view from which we look at this story and both points of view are valid.
    Mr Thornton, despite having made some mistakes, he had problems to solve (such as the debt he had to repay), but despite his hardness at the bottom he reveals a more good and fragile side (he does not investigate Margaret). Thonrton is at the same time “the man all women want” but at the same time “the man that women should stay away”

  21. Mr Thornton is a very complicated character, so although I disagree with the boy, I respect his pretty evil opinion.
    However, it must be remembered that he is a man of other times, so what we would consider absurd today, at that time was normality, such as the fact that he beats his employees.
    He is also a man who started his business with nothing, but he still managed to give a great future to his mother and sister, even after his father committed suicide, so only for this reason he has my respect.
    The only thing that I agree with the boy about is the fact that Mr Thornton abused his power by defending margareth when he could not prove that she had not committed that crime.

  22. I have read all the comments before and I have noticed that someone disagrees about “breaking the law for love”, however we have to remember that society was very different. Nowadays I would not forgive Mr. Thornton for his actions, but at that time, laws were very different, situation was very different; we have to think that Mr. Thornton represented the corruption of the time, power abuse was quite normal. I am not backing up the behavior of Mr. Thornton, I am only saying that his actions were normal. Ok, ok ,ok you could say that he was the magister, he had to lead by example, but I repeat: THINGS WERE DIFFERENT, it is not: “what is right” ; we are talking about “the reality of that time”.
    Anyways I have to say that I haven’t liked the character of Mr. Thornton so much… ok don’t kill me… I don’t even know why, but during the serie, I had a very bad opinion of him. I believed that in that man there was something obscure, that I could not see clearly. Actually in the last episode this feeling disappeared, but it reappeared in the last minutes, when I realized, that Mr. Thornton was going to take all Margaret’s money. I mean WOW, well played. The most romantic part of the serie hid a very deep twist. I mean, yes I am very happy if the two of them lived happy, but if not? If they got married Margaret would have nothing left. This was my real question at the end of the serie, however (from a romantic point of view) I am sure they lived a joyful and happy life.

  23. In my opinion Thorton couldn’t be a loser, just because ha made some errors, in fact, we have to remember that he is a man and for this reason he obviously makes some mistakes. Also he is a self made person that meant his idea brought him and his family to success which is the reason why he wants to take his own decision. For this reason I appreciate the fact that he continues to follow his instinct; surely he made some errors, but ,in the end, he obtained what he wanted, in fact, he married Margareth and thanks to her money he saved the mill.

  24. I think that Mr. Thornton is a great character, for the simple fact that in the series he represents a character who, after the death of his father, he made himself completely alone, despite having to leave school at a young age, despite this with hard work he managed to achieve great goals, becoming one of Milton’s most important men.I also very much appreciate his commitment to Margaret as he wants to regain the lost trust.

  25. I don’t really know if the comment is right or not, I’m partly agree and partly disagree, but firstly I think Mr Thorton and all the characters should not be discussed by us. In fact those were other times. I think Mr Thorton did some correct things and some thing that were not so good. But what we believe is right or not is personally, so it will be impossible to agree on something. I think in some cases he made the right choice so it means that he tried to choose the best decision for the occasion. After that I can say that, in my opinion, Thorton can be considered positively and if in some occasions he made the wrong choice it will be because he is a man as everyone else.

  26. Mr thornton is a particular character, initially I did not like him and I did not understand his attitude, I did not like his way of being, following the series and knowing the character I understood the reason for many things and I understood why he acted like this, he did not had an easy life in the past. despite everything mr thorton I did not like him as he always had the same character and a few times I have seen his change in the course of history, a change that has been more evident in other characters.

  27. Firstly I do not think Margaret saved Mr Thornton in any way, but I think it was Thornton who saved Margaret from her prejudiced world. About his business he might have failed it but he could take control of the mill at a such young age, because of his father, becoming the most important man of Milton. I don’t even think he could have prevented the strike in any way that I can imagine and he was basically forced to hire Irish men because he needed his activity to keep going; he also wasn’t discouraged from the situation and could go to the great exhibition in London to get the attention of some investors.
    Most of all I can’t agree with the statement that John didn’t overcome his father’s death; a trauma is something so harsh to deal with and I even think Thornton did deal with it pretty well in fact he didn’t let the activity fail and he sustained his mother, also emotionally. Mr Thornton is an amazing man, he has been a perfect friend when Mr Hale lost his wife and he proposed to Margaret because he cared so much about her reputation, so his feelings were always honest. I can let pass the fact that he committed a crime but he was still protecting his love and his friend so I can understand him completely, I didn’t like the first scene of Mr Thornton being violent either, I think he could have used other manners but, as we know, that was something added in the series so the actual character doesn’t have this trait.
    In conclusion I think Mr Thornton deserves much more respect because he’s a very honest man and surely with Margaret he can even improve.

  28. In my opinion it’s right to have different point of view about this character but I don’t agree with what this boy wrote. Personally, Mr Thornton can’t be see as a loser, because is very complex and has a great personality. If we watch North and South series, we can appreciate this charcater infact Mr Thornton is a self made man and supports his family by working as a master of a mill after his father death so we can’t say that this man is a loser. He can be it maybe because proposes to a women that doesn’t love him. Also I think that he makes right choices in some cases for example when he decides for love to protect the honour of the woman who had reject him. Finally it’s obvious that in some circumstances he don’t behave well but we are all human and we have feelings. Making mistakes happens to everyone and for this we can not judge him.

  29. I honestly do not know what parts to take in this debate, in fact I do not completely agree with either of the two opinions; however, I share some aspects on both sides.
    On the one hand, the student is right to say that Thornton made many mistakes by ignoring circumstances, and it is true that he made these mistakes out of love; such as, for example, proposing to Margaret despite knowing that he would have refused him, but on the other hand, this does not always mean that he should always be seen in a positive light using it as a motivation that he does it out of love.
    I’m not sure what I’m saying but in my opinion the Thornton of the book must be differentiated from that of the film, in fact in the film he appears much more violent and superb, already from the first scene, consequently the viewer starts with a negative prejudice; however, since there is no such scene in the book, he could be seen as a more paid and fascinating figure, in short, a true gentleman.
    So in conclusion I would not know which side to take because there are aspects of Thotrnton that I admire others but that I do not share

  30. Whereas I do agree with most of what the student wrote, I disagree about Margaret’s stable, not compromised values and I believe Thornton’s biggest flaw isn’t his poor choice-making but his pride instead.
    Miss Hale does have a complex character development throughout the story, adapting slowly to the society she lives in and I do think that her wealth hasn’t completely turned her into a woman of the North, but her values do change, we have proof of it the moment she accepts and reciprocates Mr Thornton’s love; before then, she always thought of him as an unrefined, uneducated and violent man who did not know how to act accordingly, exposing his embarrassing and turbulent past.
    But if her values hadn’t changed, why did she accept his proposal then?
    I believe neither of them is perfect: Thornton does many mistakes, mostly as consequences of his pride and love for Miss Hale (which are respectable and understandable reasons in my eyes as a reader), whereas she makes mistakes because of her prejudice towards him and the Northern society.
    However, my aim is not to bring down Margaret in any way in order to make my point as I do believe that her character gets a deep and substantial development in the story and is very well written overall.

  31. I have to say that I have never had a bad opinion of Thornton. In general, both in movies and in books, I rarely find a character that I don’t like, because all the characters have their own complexity and, even if I don’t like how they think or behave, I always try to understand their actions. Thornton is a man who lost his father at a young age and he and his family had to live in a very difficult situation for many years. He did not go to school and started working at the Mill to make money. What I saw in the series is that Thornton always worked very hard, even in the bad circumstances he was in. He made mistakes, but that’s what it means to be human. I honestly prefer Thornton’s character to Margaret, because it seems more complex and deeper. But I don’t mind Margaret. She is just an ordinary aristocratic girl, who lived in the perfect southern paradise and was forced to go to the dark and materialistic world of the north. The fact that she has changed a lot in the series means that she’s not as bad as everyone believed at the beginning.

  32. Honestly i do not know if i am agree or not with the comment, but personally i think that mr. Thorton cannot be a loser because he represents a character who, after the death of his father, finds himself alone and works hard to make the quality of his life as good as possible. Infact is a selfmade man and supports his family by working hard and, at the end, he becomes Milton’s magistrate. I also think that Mr. Thorton is a very honest man with a great reputation in his work.
    Mr. Thorton, of course, has done some things right and some less good, probably due to his difficult past, but i think that it is normal because is a man like everyone else and since we are all human, we can make mistakes.

  33. I think that Mr Thornton, like all man, can make mistakes and maybe the student judged him too cruelly. He was right: Mr Thornton made a very bed decision by exploiting his power as a magistrate to protect Margaret and made other mistakes. But we can’t consider him as a failed. After the suicide of his father, who left his family without money and in debts, Mr Thornton managed to redeem the name of his family, he became the most successful middle-class manufacturer in Milton indeed he was nominated as a magistrate. Since he met and fell in love with Margaret he acts inspired by love. Though he didn’t always do the right thing, he is motivated by good intentions. So in my opinion Mr Thornton is not a loser: he is just a men who tries to do his best but, as for everybody, also for him it is not easy to take always the right decision. Life is difficult and full of unexpected events…

  34. Characters are people whose stories rather than lived and told, are written unto blank sheets of paper.
    By which I mean, characters just like people are complex individuals.
    And, as long as one’s wants a realistic appeal, actions are not always rational or organized in neat event ladders.
    Because that would be unrealistic.

    This is the reason why Mr Thornton actions are understandable, under various points of view.
    In fact, as every human being, he makes mistakes throughout his life; dictated by one’s own circumstances.

    Talking of circumstances, his bad decisions are usually either a result of his feelings for Margaret or things out of his reach.
    On one hand, emotions often make even the most rational person do impulsive things, on the other, there is nothing one’s can do about it (both the strike and hiring the Irish fall into this category).

    To add into this, the society followed a rigid etiquette, nowadays considered outdated or unnecessary, that was of the utmost importance for the time (this is the reason of his marriage proposal).

    Therefore by taking a look at the context, one’s may think it’s not enough of a justification, but it’s certainly is for an explanation.
    And, as much he may have made unfortunate decisions (seemingly enchanted by misfortune), it doesn’t make him unable to do good ones too, even prior to the story.

  35. At first I did not focus much on Mr Thorntorn’s figure. He apparently just seemed to me the perfect male character of the 19th century: fault proof, strong, courageous, with deep sensibility and reliability. As a very young boy, after his father ‘s death, he had to take care of his family and build up his business by himself, becoming one of the most regardable man in Milton. So if we consider him from this point of view we certainly can not refer to him as a looser. Despite this, Mr Thorntorn made some bad decisions, but he is just a man, everybody makes mistakes, so how can we blame him? Yes, he did not prevent the strike (even if he financially couldn’t do it anyway), he hired the Irish and couldn’t handle the riots. Worst of all he, also, committed an abuse of power when he decided not to investigate on Margaret, the very woman that despited him since the first day they met. However, he was just trying to do the right thing for everyone: he protected the one he loved, created a business to provide a better life for his family and, indeed, he somehow tried to give his labourers better working conditions. As I previously said, as a man, he is unable to handle successfully all his life’s challenges. He is not perfect thou. But finally, thanks to Love, he had the chance to repair to his failures and start over again his business. Trying, this time, to make better decisions in his life, once for all.

  36. I’ve always thought that Mr. Thornton was a great character since he cares about his family and he works really hard. The student’s comment made me realise that even though Thornton is led by love in all of his choices, his behaviour is unfair sometimes. I’m glad he decided to protect Margaret during the investigations of the case she was involved in, but it wasn’t correct. He’s a magistrate and he needs to follow the rules. Anyway, everybody knows that at that time magistrates used their power to defend their friends, hence, it was a common behaviour. In conclusion I think that describing Mr Thornton as a loser is exaggerated.

  37. i don’t see it as the student about Mr Thornton. It is normal to make mistakes and I don’t see John as a loser. All the decisions he made were for good, he certainly knew what he was facing. He is a winner not a loser : his wealth unlike other characters in other books, who live comfortably because they are noble by birth, it is the result of years and years of work and sacrifice. Mr Thornton suddnely became the head of the family because of his father, John was only a kid and for this reason he had to work very hard in order to build the Malborough mill.
    He had to fight to earn his prestigious position, he never gave up and he has faced life with a lot of courage

  38. I think mr Thornton is a particular character because maybe in the series is not represented like a Hero but he made himself great only by his own. After the the death of his father, he left school at young age but this didn’t stop him to try to make his life better than it was before. He became an important master of a mill and also a magistrate so in this case he’s a professional worker. Certainly he made some good choices and some mistakes but this could be happen to everyone so i think is not a great problem, a good persone can admit his mistakes and try to do better in the future, like Thornton did with margaret’s help.

  39. Pingback: Smashing Mr Thornton – Tenses

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