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Romantic Moment of the Week – Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale Share a Kiss in the Romantic Period Drama North and South

THE MINISERIES: North & South

THE PAIRING: Mr. John Thornton (Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe)

THE MOMENT: Mr. Thornton and Margaret cross paths at a train station and kiss.


Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale – The Lead In

Throughout the years, BBC has put out several of the greatest period dramas in recent history with their impeccable costume detail, well scripted dialogue, and sweepingly romantic adaptations from classic literature’s finest novels. Still, one adaptation stands out as one of the most epically romantic. In 2004, the BBC adapted Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, North & South (not to be confused with the soapy American miniseries of the same name) starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in the title roles of Mr. John Thornton and Margaret Hale.

Not since Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, has there been such a story about misunderstandings and pride.

The screenplay was written by the always fabulous Sandy Welch (2006’s Jane Eyre, Our Mutual Friend, and 2009’s Emma) and directed by Brian Percival (The Book Thief). Everything about this production worked from the dialogue to the stunning visuals; the cotton in Mr. Thornton’s factory as beautiful as fallen snow. And in a story about class struggles (including a strike) and labor workers’ rights, the love story between cotton mill owner Mr. Thornton of the north and middle class southerner Margaret Hale uprooted abruptly from her country life becomes all the more powerful. Not since Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, has there been such a story about misunderstandings and pride. How could Margaret ever fall in love with a man who seemingly goes against her principles? And how could Mr. Thornton help but fall in love with a woman full of passion and independent spirit?

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How the two slowly come together is incredible. One moment Mr. Thornton proposes in full Mr. Darcy style (only to be turned down with similar disdain as Elizabeth Bennet) and the next he thinks Margaret’s brother Thornton witnesses her saying goodbye to in the middle of the night on a train platform is some secret lover. The two are just never on the same page. That is until the very end, which brings me to my romantic moment of the week.

The Romantic Moment – Thornton and Margaret

While most readers prefer book scenes to be relatively similar in the film adaptation, I firmly believe that the ending written by Sandy Welch is even better than the one in the brilliant novel by Gaskell. For those who haven’t read the book yet, I am sorry to say that the chance meeting at the train station does not exist. Thankfully though, it does at least exist for us romantics watching the mini-series on the small screen. This is one ending that never stops making you swoon, no matter how many times you watch it on rewind.

The scene is set flawlessly. Unbeknownst to one another, they both travel to the others’ homes. Thornton travels to the south while Margaret travels back to the north (now knowing that she loves him after being in denial for so long). On their way back to their individual homes, they cross paths at a train station. First, the train stops and Margaret steps out (her lawyer friend Henry about to lose any romantic chance he had left). The other train at the other side of the platform also slowly comes to a halt. We now have the perfect setup: It is Mr. Thornton on the other train and Margaret sees him immediately with a look of surprise and joyful awe.

she sees him

She walks towards him as Mr. Thornton looks up in astonishment.

sees her for the first time

His surprise quickly then turns to uncontrollable happiness (obvious since he rarely smiles throughout the entire series):

north and south

“Where are you going?” He asks (I think deep down he knows where she has been).

where are you going

“To London. I’ve been to Milton,” Margaret confesses to Thornton. “You’ll not guess where I’ve been” he teases. Mr. Thornton then pulls out a yellow flower from her old home in a clear romantic gesture; a flower she had thought was no longer in bloom.

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Mr. Thornton about to hand her the flower.
Mr. Thornton about to hand her the flower.

“Why were you in Milton?” He asks with hope written on his face, something that had eluded him for most of their story. Margaret claims for business (as if anyone believes her ‘business’ proposal is purely professional to invest her money in Thornton’s now bankrupt mill). “I have a business proposition…I need Henry to help me explain.” Her awkward movements and gestures suggest just how nervous she is to tell her plan and in the process her own feelings she so long refused to admit.

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“You don’t need Henry to explain.” Of course she doesn’t because he knows now that it is all about her love for him. They sit on a bench and she ‘attempts’ to explain her proposition:

MARGARET: “I have some 15,000 pounds just at present lying in a bank earning very little interest. My financial advisers tell me that if you were to take this money and use it to run Marlborough Mills, you could give me a very much better rate of interest. So you see; it is only a business matter. You would not be obliged to me in any way…”

Mr. Thornton listens intently to her 'business' proposition.
Mr. Thornton listens intently to her ‘business’ proposition.

Knowing her feelings, Mr. Thornton grabs her hand:

hand part one

She pauses after stumbling on her ‘apparent’ speech and further puts her hands in his:

margaret hand

Overcome with emotion and feelings, she takes his hand and kisses it.

kisses hand

Mr. Thornton, still smiling of course, places his hand on her cheek before he is going to kiss her.

hand on cheek

They lean in for their first kiss, a textbook romantic moment after almost four hours of build up between the two. Then they finally kiss.

north and south first kiss

Meanwhile, the London train announces it is about to depart. Margaret takes off only to return with her bag. It is then Thornton realizes he truly has the heart of the woman he has loved for so long. “You’re coming home with me,” he says with a smile and then Thornton and Margaret board the train together to go on and start their new lives.

last kiss on train
They share another kiss as the train heads home.
Do you have a favorite romantic moment between Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale? Do you love North & South as much as I do? Sound off below…

All Photos are credited to BBC.

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By on December 7th, 2013

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely blog and works as a YA Librarian.

More posts by this author.

17 thoughts on “Romantic Moment of the Week – Mr. Thornton and Margaret Hale Share a Kiss in the Romantic Period Drama North and South”

  1. North and South has got to be my favourite period drama. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but I always swoon at the ending!

    Reply
  2. I didn’t know nothing about this tv serie here in Brazil, only in the last year I had meet a friend in my english course and We were speaking about pride and prejudice and She asked me about Richard Armitage, I didn’t know him too, and She started to talk about North and South. In the next day I checked on the internet and I found another serie colled north and south with Patrick Swayze, I told her about it and She laughted a lot because of the mistake. One day my favorite bookstore was with a great promotion and I bought the DVD north and south from BBC UK and till today I watch this beautiful history like the first time, and I repeat the last part more then five times in slow motion!

    Reply
  3. I remember the very first time I watched it, straight through, I hit that scene and I actually jumped off the couch and started squealing, dancing around the room, pausing and rewinding constantly, and my family were scared because they thought I was dying.

    It was a wonderful moment. I had never felt so satisfied with another mini-series ending.

    As of now, I have watched it too many times to count, but I still squeal every time, and I still grin so wide my mouth hurts.

    Reply
  4. Very well presented! I had replaced Pride and Prejudice as my favorite romantic novel of all time with Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. Margaret Hale is more interesting and full of depth than Elizabeth Bennett, and so is John Thirnton as compared to Mr. Darcy. This is by far the most romantic ending of any period piece on television and/or movies I have ever seen! The direction and adapted screenplay were exquisite and the romantic leads were just perfect for their parts. I wish they’d show this on Valentine’s Day every year so the new generation of viewers will see what a wonderful piece of literature and filmmaking it is.

    Reply
  5. For me it is the most romantic costume drama ever . It’s flawless . So many moments . When Margaret sees John walking through the mill the cotton falling like snow . When Margaret saves John from the angry mob . When there hands touch in the handshake . John standing saying saying look back when Margaret leaves . But the train station scene gets me I have tears of joy . It’s stunningly perfect the atmosphere their feelings for each so tangible and evident . He gives her the yellow flower from Helston for me that simple gesture is my undoing . Margaret nervous trying to explain investing in his mill as a matter of business . He sweeps it away he holds her hand she kisses his hand they kiss . Finally the kiss his eyelids flutter he’s nervous such little things . The end when she goes to get her bag and he says your coming home with me . The kids as they sit down . Her looking out of the window her happiness complete .its a masterpiece I don’t think it can be bettered as the most romantic costume drama of all time . I adore it . Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby Ashe are just wonderful the acting superb !

    Reply
  6. What a lovely webpage (I know it is from some time ago.) Beautiful photographs and exposition.
    I have watched that scene goodness knows how many times. It never, never fails to hit home as fresh and wonderful and satisfying as the first time.
    Thank you for this.

    Reply

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