Plasticity and Evolving Characters

Sophie de Courcy and More

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron by Richard Westall (2).jpgA year or so ago I took some time off from reading a selection of the classic robber novels -ie ‘Rinaldo Rinaldini’ and ‘Rob Roy’ – for a change of genre with Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘North and South’.

What interested me particularly about this book – though it’s a good read anyway, all about the terrible conditions in cotton manufacturing in mid Victorian Manchester – was how it illustrated how character types can be used and reused by the author.

They are an awkward lot, these characters! Quite apart from the fact that they take on a life of their own in one story (I don’t mean in the Aleks Sager’s Demon sense, Aagh! I mean within the pages of the novel) they can resemble viruses – they can mutate, and split into many.

I recognized two types in this book which Elizabeth Gaskell was to use again.

The first is…

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