If you mention a movie called North & South to an American, they will likely first think of the American Civil War epic of the same name. This may be why it took me a while to realize that this is also the title of a 19th century novel and a fantastic corresponding BBC mini-series. I just watched the series this past week, and it…is…awesome. Like, tingly-feels, heart-meltingly good. I just watched it through this week, and I’m making Heather watch it with me again on Saturday. I’ve also started reading the book.
I was fascinated by the dichotomy of the English northern and southern regions, primarily because the differences seem so similar to ours in the U.S. I, like Margaret, grew up in the rural (American) South and learned to love nature and the out-of-doors. I grew up hearing stories about how the more industrial North is full of Yankees who are rude and brusque, always in a hurry. After college, I spent two years in the North at graduate school and was finally able to observe “Northern” culture first-hand. At first, I felt much like Margaret arriving in Milton, a little bit confused and disoriented. People WERE more rude! And they drove like crazy! Everything they said down South was RIGHT! Except, it wasn’t. The more time I spent in the Northeast, the more I grew to love what makes it, and the people, unique – efficiency, strength of character, valuing education and discussion – many of the same qualities Margaret learns to love in the movie. When visiting home, I couldn’t help but realize what Margaret also did upon her return to Helstone – the South wasn’t quite as perfect as I had thought it was. I began to see the flaws I hadn’t noticed before. And you know what? I even ended up marrying a Yankee! Now, all this being said, I am and likely always will be a proud Virginian. I moved back down South after school, and I will probably never leave, but my time spent in the North helped to dispel some of the regional prejudices imparted to me in my youth.
So my question to our English readers is, does modern England still have these regional differences, or has the country since become more homogenized? Can any of you relate to Margaret’s journey in the same way?