Wives and Daughters
Wives and Daughters is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in the Cornhill Magazine as a serial from August 1864 to January 1866. The story revolves around Molly Gibson, only daughter of a widowed doctor living in a provincial English town in the 1830s. (From feedbooks.com)
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Chapter 1 - The Dawn of a Gala Day
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What can you infer about the setting?
What does Lord Cumnor's manner of speaking reveal about his character? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does the narrator refer to the Cumnors as "my lady" and "my lord"?
What ulterior motive might the Miss Brownings have for helping out Mr. Gibson? Does this contribute to their being comical characters? Sympathetic? (Pictured: The Miss Brownings from the 1999 BBC adaptation of Wives and Daughters). (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 2 - A Novice Amongst the Great Folk
What does this outing represent to Molly? Why do you think she was so keen to go?
Pay attention to the motif of nature (and the science of nature) as you continue to read. (This annotation contains a video)
What could be inferred from the way in which Clare devours Molly's lunch?
What is your opinion of Molly thus far? Do you think that she is overemotional?
Based on Clare's dialogue here, what would you say she values?
The fact that Molly has never read or heard these fairy tales illustrates that she has not had a 'typical' childhood. Even though she is close to her father (and her nanny), this typical children's reading fare is unknown to her. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Molly feel more and more anxious as time goes on?
Mr. Gibson has some interesting nicknames for Molly, the most frequent one is "goosey." This shows an affection that was not all too common between father and daughter at the time.
What made Molly most anxious about her time at the Towers?
Chapter 3 - Molly Gibson's Childhood
Remember that the narrator is already telling the story as it happened years ago, so this is a flashback within a flashback. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this detail reveal about the people of Hollingford?
Elizabeth Gaskell was Charlotte Bronte's biographer, so it is no coincidence that this character shares its name with her most famous heroine. (This annotation contains an image)
Who was Miss Eyre's ally?
Chapter 4 - Mr Gibson's Neighbours
Gaskell is well known for writing two types of novels: books about industrial England and laborers' rights ( "North and South", "Mary Barton"), and books about sleepy English villages and the eccentric characters that live in them ("Cranford," "Wives and Daughters"). (This annotation contains an image)
Infer what Mr. Gibson's Scotch accent lends to his persona according to the townspeople.
The term Squire is derived from the word 'Esquire.' In this usage, it refers to a man of the landed gentry who is not titled (like an Earl or a Duke). This places Squire Hamley above Dr. Gibson, but below Lord Cumnor in the social hierarchy.
Analyze the portrayal of women in the novel so far. Pay particular attention to Mrs. Kirkpatrick, the Miss Brownings, and Mrs. Hamley.
Mr. Gibson enjoys Squire Hamley's forthrightness and unapologetic honesty. Such authenticity of manner was not common in 'polite society' (hence Mrs. Hamley's urge to apologize for her husband), but was not uncommon among those who could literally afford to be so open with their opinions.
What characteristic of Mr. Gibson's is starting to shine through?
Chapter 5 - Calf-Love
Consider why Mr. Gibson is so offended that one of his pupils directed a letter to Molly without his knowledge. What is at stake?
What has this situation forced Mr. Gibson to realize?
Should Beth get fired for her part in this?
How does this anecdote about King Midas's barber apply to the situation?
The Squire says that Osborne my "marry where he likes," but then immediately says that he could never marry Molly. Why would he not approve of one of his sons marrying Molly? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Gibson's mentioning of the fates an example of?
"Ready-made" here means made from a pattern. Miss Rose still needs to make the dresses for Molly. There were no Nordstroms or Top Shops in Miss Gibson's day. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 6 - A Visit to the Hamleys
What does this reveal about Gibson?
How does the Hamley's house compare to the Towers? (Pictured: 16th century manor house, Wrenbury Hall) (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what we know of Osborne and Roger (which is mainly based on how their parents view them), what can you infer about their relationship?
Poor Molly. It appears that this is (and will continue to be) a common occurrence in her life. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Molly view the idea of her father remarrying?
Why is Molly perhaps not the best conversationalist, especially for Squire Hamley?
What do you think Molly muttered under her breath?
This refers to Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman conquest. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 7 - Foreshadows of Love Perils
Who is in contention for being the next Mrs. Gibson? How would Molly react to this person being her stepmother?
Why should Molly be thankful? Is she being naive, or is her father being unduly harsh?
What is at the root of Hamley's annoyance with Molly's elongated stay?
Poor Roger. Much like Molly, he seems to be frequently overlooked or forgotten.
Chapter 8 - Drifting Into Danger
What does this imagery describe?
Where does Molly's loyalty to Osborne come from? Do you think she believes Roger relishes telling his parents of Osborne's failure?
What does this term reveal about Roger's point of view of women at this point?
How long has she been at the Hamleys' house? It's no wonder that Molly is starting to get anxious about ever coming home.
Why do Lady Cumnor's daughters suggest that Clare come to the Towers?
Governesses at the time taught their female charges the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. For the upper classes, like the Cumnors, the young girls would also be taught accomplishments like music and drawing. (This annotation contains an image)
Lady Harriet's warning against novels is an example of what literary element?
Chapter 9 - The Widower and the Widow
In addition to the perks of staying at the Towers (mainly, good food and accommodation), Mrs. Kirkpatrick's social credibility gets a boost with such a personal invitation. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Mrs. Kirkpatrick view her current situation in life?
All of this subterfuge shows how formidable a woman Lady Cumnor is. Lord Cumnor's concern and affection for his wife is also sweet, and not entirely common among their "sort" of people.
Why does Gibson think that Mrs. Kirkpatrick could be his "hare"? Why does he dismiss the other women in Hollingford?
There is something patronizing in the idea that Lady Cumnor should take to matchmaking as a sort of amusement. It is a safe bet that Molly would not like her life turned upside down so that Lady Cumnor can have a bit of a diversion from boredom. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 10 - A Crisis
In a town full of straight-forward characters, what might such a "poetic" name symbolize?
Is anyone else having a hard time not picturing Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet") from the TV show "Keeping Up Appearances" as Mrs. Kirkpatrick? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Gibson thinking here?
Consider Gibson and Hyacinth's reasons for wanting to get married. Is there any common ground?
In your own words, explain this metaphor. Is Molly being overly dramatic?
Molly is afraid of being left behind. This will continue to be a motif related to Molly throughout the novel.
What word best describes Roger?
Roger is making Molly see the situation more from her father's perspective. As is common in teenagers, Molly is preoccupied with how this will affect her. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Roger offer Molly?
Does it seem like Roger's parents have a real understanding of their sons? Would you characterize Roger's manner toward Molly as "rough"?
Do you think that Gibson is starting to regret his decision to marry Hyacinth? Why or why not?
Chapter 11 - Making Friendship
Mrs. Kirkpatrick's lack of concern over leaving her pupils in the lurch is very telling about her choice of career. It shows that she was never really had a passion for teaching, but that it was just the means to an end for her. Now that she is to be remarried she is inclined to be rid of her child charges at the soonest opportunity. (This annotation contains an image)
What do girls and girlhood represent to Mrs. Kirkpatrick?
Almost jealous? We know that Molly is extremely jealous of now having to share her father with his new wife, but do you think Hyacinth is also jealous of Molly?
As Molly gets to know Hyacinth better, it is becoming clear that she is quite
What do you think Molly's reaction to this plan is going to be?
Why is Molly grateful to Lady Cumnor? What has she acknowledged that no one else (except Roger) has?
There is another name for this -- the third wheel. (This annotation contains an image)
At this point, what role does Roger wish to fulfill for Molly?
Examine Squire Hamley's manner of speech. What does this reveal about him as a character, as well as his role in society?
Chapter 12 - Preparing for the Wedding
What is the tone of the conversation between Lord and Lady Cumnor?
Once again it is apparent that Hyacinth is preoccupied with appearances. (Just another thing she has in common with that other Hyacinth!) (This annotation contains an image)
Is there any subtext to Miss Browning's disbelief that Molly has a suitor at such a young age?
This authorial note reminds the reader that the action of the novel thus far takes place in the past. Also, women's hairstyles at this time (1830s) were extremely elaborate and must have taken a very long time to style. This styling time, apparently, was also good time spent in confidence between ladies. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Miss Browning imply about Gibson?
Do you believe Gibson's excuses as to why he did not ask the Brownings to look after Molly instead of the Hamleys?
Chapter 13 - Molly Gibson's New Friends
What kind of a man is Molly looking for in a future husband?
Did Molly always view her time with the Hamleys as such? What has changed her mind?
Determine how Molly's childhood without a mother has influenced her relationships with women.
In your own words, what does this adage mean? (This annotation contains an image)
Based on this description, how does Molly feel about Ashcombe?
What do you think is the nature of Mr. Preston's relationship with Cynthia?
Chapter 14 - Molly Finds Herself Patronized
What is the main difference between their situations, though?
Lady Harriet is very condescending in tone here (hence the title of this chapter). Do you think she is intentionally being patronizing? (This annotation contains a video)
Are you surprised that Molly attempts to stand up for herself here? Why or why not?
Harriet's advice about Mr. Preston smacks of foreshadowing. Should Molly heed Harriet's warning? (This annotation contains a video)
Decipher what this simile means.
But Molly had just called him quite "ugly." Who should be believed?
What is the difference between a poetic and a chivalrous hero in Molly's estimation?
Note that Miss Browning's reference to Harriet's "condescension" is not a criticism, but a compliment. Molly thinks differently, however.
Chapter 15 - The New Mamma
What does Molly now feel in her own home?
Can you relate to Molly's feelings and attitude towards her stepmother here? (This annotation contains an image)
Knowing what you do about Roger, write a few sentences of what you think Roger would say to Molly on this issue.
What is happening to Betty is exactly what Molly was afraid of. Though, instead of being replaced in her job, she is afraid of being replaced in her father's affections.
How is Mr. Gibson adjusting to newlywed life with Hyacinth?
Chapter 16 - The Bride at Home
This is an allusion to Oliver Goldsmith's 'The Vicar of Wakefield' (1766). Essentially, this shows that Osborne is well versed in polite conversation thereby impressing Mrs. Gibson with his gentility. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the real reason as to why Mrs. Gibson prefers Osborne to Roger, and hopes that he will be a "pleasant acquaintance" for Molly and Cynthia?
Once again Hyacinth is more concerned about appearances than the significance of rightness of an act. She promises to be fair in her treatment of Molly because she does not want to be accused of being a neglectful stepmother and not because it is moral for her to do so. (This annotation contains an image)
What surprises Mrs. Gibson about Squire Hamley's manners?
Can you identify the source of the tension between Mrs. Gibson and Squire Hamley? (This annotation contains a video)
What is another word that could be used to describe Mrs. Gibson's behavior?
Chapter 17 - Trouble at Hamley Hall
What conversation does Mrs. Hamley want to avoid having?
Hypothesize what these unaccounted for debts of Osborne's are. Why would he want to keep it secret?
This idiom refers to the vulnerability or flaw of an otherwise great person. It is also a biblical allusion to Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a statue made of precious metals, but with feet made of clay.
What is the tone of Squire Hamley's letter?
In a very short time, Molly has become almost like a member of the Hamley family. She is the daughter Mrs. Hamley never had, and Mrs. Hamley has become the mother-figure that Molly wishes she could continue to have (instead of her own stepmother).
Why does Hyacinth have a difficult time understanding how Mr. Gibson could value this time with his wife?
Chapter 18 - Mr Osborne's Secret
It is not a surprise that Mrs. Hamley would be preoccupied with Osborne in her final moments. She was never shy about claiming that he was her favorite, and even in his disgrace she still thinks more of him than of Roger.
What do you make of Roger's statement here? Do you think he is at all bitter about the favoritism his parents show towards Osborne?
Is is possible that Molly includes herself as one of the "children." If not as herself, then maybe as Fanny. In her delirious state, Mrs. Hamley might expect to see her "daughter" as well as Roger and Osborne at her bedside.
How would you describe Hamley's feelings towards Osborne at this point?
Troubled father/son relationships are popular fodder in fiction (and music - like in this popular Harry Chapin song). Do you think that Hamley and Osborne can ever reconcile? (This annotation contains a video)
What does this silence symbolize at this tumultuous time?
The fact that Osborne is keeping his marriage a secret must mean that his choice of wife would not fit up to the standards of his parents. This also clears up why he has so much debt and would not disclose what that debt was.
Chapter 19 - Cynthia's Arrival
Why is Molly so excited for Cynthia to arrive?
This is a good sign. Unlike her mother, Cynthia seems to be affectionate and reciprocates Molly's enthusiasm for a sister.
Describe other characters in literature who share Cynthia's charisma. How is this a powerful trait to have?
Earlier, Molly referred to Cynthia as her "Scotch sister." This refers to the Scot tradition of considering family by marriage as kin (and not because Cynthis has a Scottish last name, or that Molly's father is Scottish).
What quality does Cynthia share with her mother?
This term is used frequently. it implies a kind of intimacy (both wanted and unwanted) in conversation and interaction.
Chapter 20 - Mrs Gibson's Visitors
What could account for Mrs. Gibson's odd reaction to Preston?
At this point, is there any evidence that Preston is not to be trusted (besides Harriet's warning)? He seems pretty smooth with the ladies, but has he said anything untoward? (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Mrs. Gibson now tries to prolong Mr. Preston's visit? What does this reveal about her relationship with Cynthia?
What qualities do men appreciate about Cynthia?
Molly has never been able to take being teased very well (remember how Lord Cumnor lightheartedly teased her with nursery rhymes at the Towers?). But, doth the lady protest too much here? (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 21 - The Half-Sisters
What would have made Molly more uncomfortable with her knowledge of Osborne's secret marriage?
The Hamleys are still in mourning for their mother's death. The period of mourning varied depending on your relationship to the deceased (widows could be expected to be in full mourning for two years, children mourning their parents were to mourn for about 1 year). There were strict rules of etiquette for those in mourning - and one of those rules was no dancing!
What is the main characteristic of Cynthia's beauty that comes through Molly's description?
Card parties were a common and inexpensive form of entertainment at the time. (This annotation contains an image)
How has Roger changed since Molly last saw him?
Why is Lady Harriet a sore point with Mrs. Gibson, do you think?
Why would it not be proper for Molly to stay at Hamley Hall now?
Chapter 22 - The Old Squire's Troubles
Add this to the list of issues Squire Hamley is dealing with in the wake of his wife's death.
Mrs. Hamley was the heart of the house, as well as its regulating spirit. Squire Hamley is stubborn and brash, but the loss of his wife has affected him tremendously. His unwillingness to forgive Osborne for his failure and his contribution to his mother's death cannot even be regulated by Roger's calm stoicism.
On a confusing note, in England "public school" is what Americans would call private school. Some of the most famous public schools (for boys) are Eton, Harrow, and Rugby. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the Squire's underlying criticism of Osborne here?
What could Osborne do to earn money? What marketable skills does he have?
In Robinson's point of view, what is wrong in the household?
Chapter 23 - Osborne Hamley Reviews His Position
Continuity alert: Earlier, it was stated that Osborne got 250 pounds per year and Roger got 200 in allowance. This might have been an oversight on Gaskell's part because of the manner in which she wrote the novel (it was initially printed in serial form from 1864-1866 in Cornhill Magazine). (This annotation contains an image)
What does Osborne think is the only way his father would accept Aimee?
So, why did Osborne tell Roger anything about his wife? Why not keep it a secret entirely?
What can be learned from Roger's educational and family experiences? How has he defied all expectations of him?
Chapter 24 - Mrs Gibson's Little Dinner
Notice the seating arrangement here. Mrs. Gibson continues her campaign to throw Osborne and Cynthia together. The dramatic irony is, of course, that she does not know that Osborne is already married! (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the context here, what "kind of woman" is Mrs. Gibson referring to?
Cynthia often talks about how she is not so easy to love others as it is easy for others to love her. Do you think this is true, or is it an act?
How does Molly feel about her jealousy?
Chapter 25 - Hollingford In a Bustle
Who are these "little birds"? How is this an apt metaphor? (This annotation contains an image)
Why did Mrs. Gibson hope that Lady Harriet would visit while Cynthia and Molly were out?
If someone was ailing, it was common for them to "take the waters" at Bath. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the bouquets that Hamleys sent represent?
Do you agree with Cynthia's estimation of the French philosophy of beauty?
Chapter 26 - A Charity Ball
How have railroads changed the social scene?
There is a shift in point of view here. The reader sees the opening of the charity ball through the eyes of some of the gossiping townspeople of Hollingford.
Does this seem like a criticism? Explain.
Mrs. Gibson continues to be on the hunt for suitable matches for Cynthia and Molly (Cynthia more than Molly, though).
Mr. Preston speaks and acts here out of ________.
Considering their previous interactions, do you think Mrs. Gibson speaks the truth here?
What literary element is used to describe the emotion Mrs. Gibson feels when she sees Lady Harriet and Molly talking?
Can you remember what Molly's "lesson" was?
What has Lady Harriet come to understand about her and her family's role in society?
This was a book by French naturalist Georges Cuvier. It was also probably one of the books recommended to Molly by Roger. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 27 - Father and Sons
What kind of imagery is used to describe the Squire here?
The use of dashes in proper names and places was a kind of literary courtesy you will find in a lot of classic literature of the 18th and 19th centuries. It allows for the author to invoke a name or place (in this case, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire) while still keeping the work fictional. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this conversation illustrate about the Hamley brothers?
Read this brief entry on Catholic Emancipation in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Do you think Squire Hamley's prejudice against Catholics was commonplace at the time? (This annotation contains a link)
Why did Squire Hamley change his mind about Roger going to the Towers?
Chapter 28 - Rivalry
What do Cynthia and her mother have against bought flowers? (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Osborne concerned that he is spending too much time with the Gibsons?
Here is a picture of a doctor's traveling medicine cabinet ca. the 1830s. It would have been full of powders and tonics that did not always have proven medical benefits (but they did not know any better at the time). (This annotation contains an image)
What seems to be the cause of Cynthia's low spirits?
In what sort of tone do you imagine Mrs. Gibson spoke these words? Why is she so rude to Roger?
How do you think Roger will read this gesture of Cynthia's?
Put Cynthia's quoted proverb into your own words. Why does Mrs. Gibson take offense to it?
Chapter 29 - Bush-Fighting
If pressed, why does Osborne prefer Molly to Cynthia?
This short anecdote about Gibson's patient is a brief moment of reality compared to the relatively low-stakes problems of many of the characters.
What is this a metaphor for?
What do you think Mrs. Gibson is up to?
Why do you think Molly does not care for compliments, either administering or accepting them?
How is Cynthia being hyperbolic here? (This annotation contains a video)
What is strange about Mrs. Gibson's behavior?
Chapter 30 - Old Ways and New Ways
The Hamleys are associated with an older time.
What surprises the Squire about this old tenant?
What do you think of the Squire's officiousness here?
Why do Preston's attempts to calm the Squire have the opposite effect? Do you think that Preston does this on purpose?
So, it appears that Hamley is not only prejudiced toward Catholics. Here he is playing on the stereotype of Jewish moneylenders.
Chapter 31 - A Passive Coquette
How would you describe Lord Hollingford's political affiliation?
What does the reader learn about Mr. Sheepshanks in this paragraph?
What is Molly beginning to understand about herself?
Why is it surprising to find out that Roger is so sentimental and romantic?
Chapter 32 - Coming Events
Roger has called himself a "wrangler." At Cambridge, this means that he has earned first class honors in his third year at the university. He is not a cowboy.
Why is Roger so concerned about the legality of Osborne's marriage? What is the the problem if it turns out his marriage is not lawful?
Consider the different character traits that led to the brothers' disparity of situation. What was rewarded and what was not?
How does Cynthia view Roger?
Mrs. Gibson obviously views the truth as being "coarse" or "exaggerated." Do you think Mrs. Gibson's hypocrisy makes her a comical character or something more sinister?
What was Mrs. Gibson hoping that Harriet's reaction to her complaints would be?
Is this the truth? (This annotation contains an image)
For what task does Lord Hollingford hope to engage Roger? What complications might arise if Roger accepts Holligford's offer?
Why do you think Gibson feels that he should have a say in whether or not Roger goes on the expedition?
Chapter 33 - Brightening Prospects
What is the significance of the Squire tapping the 'young squire's ale'?
This scientific expedition was a big risk back in the mid-nineteenth century. There was a very large possibility that Roger would not return; in addition to the long and treacherous journey he would have to make, he could contract a fatal disease like malaria.
What is Mr. Gibson unaware of?
What do all of these things/creatures have in common? Are they all compliments? (Pictured: Sirens on a Grecian vase) (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 34 - A Lover's Mistake
In your own words, explain the disappointments Molly mulls over during her walk. Does she have the ability to do anything about her woes?
Knowing Cynthia, do you think she will remain faithful to Roger?
To whom is Roger referring?
Why won't Molly allow herself to even acknowledge that she is in love with Roger? (This annotation contains an image)
How does Cynthia approach the idea of marrying Roger in two years?
Chapter 35 - The Mother's Manoeuvre
While Mrs. Gibson is ultimately harmless, this shows a sinister side to her character.
Explain Mrs. Gibson's shifts in tone during this confrontation. Why is she doing this?
What is Mrs. Gibson's argument here? Is it believable? (This annotation contains an image)
Despite his blustering, what does Mr. Gibson believe about the situation.
Mr. Gibson has learned the lesson that William Congreve wrote about in his play "The Batchelour" (1693)... (This annotation contains an image)
What will be the Squire's most likely reaction to Roger's engagement.
Is this the reaction that you anticipated?
What are Mr. Gibson's feelings about Molly and marriage?
Chapter 36 - Domestic Diplomacy
Mr. Gibson feels that his not knowing what was going on in his own household makes him appear weak in the eyes of the Squire. The nature of his profession means that he is not at home much, and so he now relies on his wife to keep him abreast of what is going on.
What persona/aura is Mrs. Gibson attempting to achieve through her refusal of the Squire's invitation?
What do you think Molly was going to say here? Why does she appear embarrassed?
What is the cause of Molly's outburst here?
Chapter 37 - A Fluke, and What Came of It
The fact that Molly never knew that Coxe was interested in her will probably soften the blow of this change of heart; but, a lesser person than Molly would probably be bitter about this whole situation and lose some sisterly devotion toward Cynthia. (This annotation contains an image)
Why reintroduce Mr. Coxe only to have him reject Molly for Cynthia? What narrative purpose does this serve?
There are shades of the Dashwood sisters from Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" here. Molly's reserve is akin to Elinor Dashwood's soberness and reason, while Cynthia's flirtatiousness and open manner is much like Marianne's demeanor. Mr. Coxe cannot read Molly's behavior well at all. She is not coy; she simply does not know what his intentions are. (This annotation contains an image)
Why was Mr. Coxe confused by Cynthia's behavior?
Translated, this means "the absent are always wrong."
Why was Cynthia so encouraging with Mr. Coxe?
Molly, on the other hand, does not hate so easily. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Mrs. Gibson not so offended by her husband's barbs? Do you feel any pity for her?
A fever was more serious than it is today. The fact that Roger is ill in such a harsh environment is even more worrisome.
Chapter 38 - Mr Kirkpatrick, Q.C.
Why hasn't Molly been able to break downs some of the walls that Cynthia has built?
Delicacies served at dinner parties in the Victorian era were a bit different than what might be served today. Watch this video reenacting a typical dinner for a well off person in the Victorian era. Have you seen any of these dishes on a menu recently? (This annotation contains a video)
Why hadn't the London Kirkpatricks invited Cynthia more often before?
Even though they are related only through marriage, Mr. Kirkpatrick and Mrs. Gibson have the character trait of vanity in common.
What is the nature of Mrs. Gibson's perceived slight by Mr. Kirkpatrick?
Do you think Mr. Gibson has any other ulterior motives for giving Cynthia the money besides what he states here?
Chapter 39 - Secret Thoughts Ooze Out
What is the sentiment about friendship here in this adage?
This translates to "M. de la Palisse is dead / In losing his life; / A quarter of an hour before his death / He was alive." Why might Cynthia sympathize with this song?
What is underlying throughout all of Mrs. Gibson's speech to Cynthia?
While this might be true, Osborne has been compared more to his mother in features and health. Therefore, it is no surprise that his father sees him as "unmanly."
Why would Osborne be particularly hurt that Roger would not confide this secret with him?
What does the Squire think is ailing Osborne? After hearing Mr. Gibson's diagnosis, do you think the Squire's "prescription" would be effective? (This annotation contains an image)
What disappoints Osborne about his visit to the Gibsons?
Chapter 40 - Molly Gibson Breathes Freely
The title of this chapter illustrates the oppression that Molly has felt in her own home since her stepmother has moved in. She has been scrutinized, chastised, and put upon; Mrs. Gibson's trip to London will be like a breath of fresh air to Molly. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Cynthia handle her "serious thinking"?
Dog-roses are also known as witches' briar or dogberry. Everything's coming up roses for Molly now that she can finally have her father to herself again, even if it's only for a little while. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Molly's problem with this figure of speech, both specifically and philosophically?
In helping Cynthia, Molly is unknowingly risking her own reputation. As in Gaskell's other novels about village life, the gossip of meddling townspeople cause many misunderstandings.
Chapter 41 - Gathering Clouds
What literary element does the author use here to describe the atmosphere of luxury and importance?
Molly is being pretty dramatic here, illustrated by her use of the poetic element of apostrophe. In poetry, an apostrophe is a figure of speech in which the poet addresses an absent person, an abstract idea, or a thing. (This annotation contains an image)
What bothers Molly after Cynthia returns from London?
Remember that this story takes place during the beginning of the great Victorian British Empire (and was written at the height of it). The concept of the "white man's burden" and British superiority is underlying in this statement.
What does the reader know so far about Cynthia's secret? Who do you think it involves?
What does the title of this chapter imply about where the narrative is going?
What has Molly been oblivious to?
What do you think accounts for Cynthia's love for her father and stepfather, and her emotional estrangement from her mother?
Chapter 42 - The Storm Bursts
What is the correlation between the autumnal atmosphere and the atmosphere in the Gibson house?
This may sound like a jazz styling, but it is actually referring to the back part of the carriage.
What does Molly ascertain about the situation she stumbles upon?
Cynthia's secret is out, finally. Does her previous behavior towards Mr. Preston make sense now?
Defend or argue against Mr. Preston's statement here. Is this love?
'The Ladies' Cabinet of Fashion, Music, and Romance' is a periodical of the era that would probably be more suited to Mrs. Gibson's tastes. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 43 - Cynthia's Confession
Why does Cynthia refuse to tell Mr. Gibson of her problems?
It was implied earlier, by a different character, that Mrs. Gibson was a rival of Cynthia's for Mr. Preston's affections.
What is Mr. Preston's tactic here on getting Cynthia to love him?
Mr. Preston sure has quite a few women in Molly's acquaintance connected to his name. Any guesses as to whom that "pretty widow" could be?
How did Cynthia ultimately use Roger?
Molly is now the keeper of two major secrets - Osborne's and Cynthia's. Molly is concerned that in order to keep these secrets she too will have to be deceitful.
Chapter 44 - Molly Gibson to the Rescue
Why does Mrs. Kirkpatrick decide not to invite Helen?
What is Molly risking by going alone to meet Mr. Preston? What do many of the townspeople already believe about her relationship with him?
What does Mr. Preston offer as proof of his love for Cynthia?
What does Molly mean by this? Do you believe that she has a larger capacity to hate than Cynthia does?
What does Mr. Sheepshanks's interruption mean for Molly? What does not "sink into her mind"?
Ironically, Cynthia uses that same tactic of blackmail as Mr. Preston in order to get what she wants.
Chapter 45 - Confidences
What does Molly imply about Cynthia?
Is Cynthia taking advantage of Molly?
Why is Mrs. Gibson adamant that Cynthia is not technically engaged to Roger?
This is taken from Samuel Rogers's poem "Human Life" (1819).
What is the relationship between Osborne revealing all of this and Molly's foreshadowing?
Chapter 46 - Hollingford Gossips
What is the significance of this moment? Do you think it is possible to have a premonition of your own death?
What motivates Molly to risk being seen handing a letter to Mr. Preston?
If "scandal sleeps in the summer," why is it so active in fall or winter?
Based on context clues, what is the subject of Mrs. Goodenough's secret?
It seems like the jury is out as to whether Mr. Preston is a suitable match for Molly. Miss Airy sees nothing wrong with it; can you remember which character(s) does not approve?
Chapter 47 - Scandal and Its Victims
What is implied by Mr. Gibson's statement here? What is Molly's reaction?
What is Molly's rationale here?
Mrs. Gibson is probably worried about how this might be a slight to her husband, but she needn't have concerned herself. It is also interesting to note that there is a 'Dr. Donaldson' in Gaskell's book "North and South." (This annotation contains an image)
What has been damaged because of Molly's "assignations" with Mr. Preston?
Read through some of these Victorian slang terms. Which ones would you like to see come back into the vernacular? (This annotation contains a link)
Why do these gossips, like Mrs. Dawes, usually preface their gossip by saying that they don't believe it to be true? What is the point of this?
Mr. Gibson understands well how gossip travels in this small town of theirs. He also knows how his daughter's reputation can be ruined though she is innocent of their accusations. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Miss Browning's easy acceptance of the gossip so disappointing to Mr. Gibson?
Chapter 48 - An Innocent Culprit
It appears that Hyacinth is not the only person in this family prone to hyperbole.
Why won't Molly clear her good name?
What usually happens to the heroine of a mystery? (This annotation contains an image)
What do these slights illustrate about the people Molly thought were friends?
Mrs. Gibson continues her scheming in trying to find an advantageous match for Cynthia. If Osborne is really ill, she might want Cynthia back at home; if he is not, then she should stay in London and close to Mr. Henderson. Do you think that her scheming is all for her daughter's benefit?
Chapter 49 - Molly Gibson Finds a Champion
Contrast this scene of home life with the aristocratic Cumnors with that of the Gibsons'.
What might be the reasons for Lady Harriet not liking to hear Molly's name coupled with Mr. Preston?
What would be the point of Lady Harriet taking Molly with her on her social calls?
The term "to jilt" was originally used only to refer to a woman who capriciously deceives a man "after holding out hopes of love." It would later also refer to a man who did the same to a woman.
For her plan to be successful, what is Lady Harriet counting on?
Chapter 50 - Cynthia at Bay
This is, perhaps, because this is Cynthia's fourth marriage proposal that Molly knows of -- there has been Mr. Preston, Roger, Mr. Coxe, and now Mr. Henderson.
How do Cynthia and Molly approach the idea of love and commitment differently? What does it signify that Cynthia gets all of the romantic attention, and Molly gets none?
Is this characteristic of Lady Cumnor's surprising?
What characteristic of the Cumnors' is revealed by the fact that they still call Mrs. Gibson "Clare"?
"Mess" must be too uncouth a word for Mrs. Gibson. "Imbroglio" sounds much more posh.
What does this show that Molly truly believes about Cynthia's story?
Chapter 51 - 'Troubles Never Come Alone'
Any one who has ever been on a plane, or who rides public transportation, knows this tactic. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Cynthia suddenly and fleetingly value Roger's love? What does this reveal about her values?
As in most times of tumult, there seems to be some confusion here. Is he dead, or is there a chance for the doctor to help?
What is one good that has come from Osborne's death?
We know that the Squire mourns his lost loved ones deeply. The death of his wife was not a shock, but it seems like Osborne's was (even though he had been sickly for awhile). His estrangement from Osborne meant that he did not notice the signs.
Chapter 52 - Squire Hamley's Sorrow
How must Molly feel now that both of the secrets she held have now been told?
The squire seems detached and isolated in his grief. He is now alone at the Hall, and even has a hard time relating to his old friends, the Gibsons.
If Osborne had told his father, what would have been the likely outcome? In the long view, would it have been so terrible?
What can you say about the theme of the novel regarding parents and children - fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and mothers and daughters, specifically? (This annotation contains a video)
Why is this an apt metaphor for travel at the time?
Not surprisingly, Mrs. Gibson is single-minded in her relief over Cynthia's breaking it off with Roger. She only cares that Cynthia has not been tied down to Roger now that he will not inherit.
What is one of the reasons why Cynthia wants to visit the Squire?
Chapter 53 - Unlooked-For Arrivals
These are the memoirs of Maximilien de Bethune, Duc de Sully (1559-1641), a French statesman. It is interesting that Molly would have read this; it definitely shows that she is a well-read young woman. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the effect on the narrative of these occasional comments by the omniscient narrator?
Do you think it was kind to give Aimee false hope, or was it cruel?
Who does the Squire want most?
Recall that the Squire is quite prejudiced against the French. It is notable that he is prepared to make some exceptions for Aimee by claiming that she does not seem quite so French.
Chapter 54 - Molly Gibson's Worth Is Discovered
Why does the Squire want to help Aimee now?
If she does not marry, being a governess is one of the few options for a woman who has had an education like Cynthia's. If you are familiar with Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre,' you will know that being a governess can be quite a lonely life. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Mr. Gibson so riled up? Does he have good reason to be?
Lady Harriet has proven herself to be a good friend to Molly. Why do you think she has taken her under her protection?
How is Mrs. Gibson characterized as a caretaker?
It took Molly's illness for everyone to all but forget that she was a persona non grata to them not too long before.
Chapter 55 - An Absent Lover Returns
Roger comes back from Africa with the understanding that
Roger is a familiar face to Aimee, who has been surrounded by strangers. It is doubtful that Gaskell is setting up another love triangle involving Molly and Roger. (This annotation contains an image)
In what ways has Roger changed in his time away? How has he stayed the same?
Is the part about Cynthia's name not being mentioned anywhere near the truth?
Why is Molly so convinced about this?
Chapter 56 - 'Off With the Old Love, and On With The New'
Cynthia is admired and sought after everywhere she goes, so it is no surprise that she would have no qualms in moving to new places with new people. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Molly trembling and flushed?
Mr. Henderson sounds like he is pretty inoffensive, but also pretty bland. (This annotation contains an image)
What makes this engagement of Cynthia's different than her other two?
Chapter 57 - Bridal Visits and Adieux
Lady Cumnor spouts some pretty traditional advice about a woman's role as a wife, even though she does not practice what she preaches. She is either being ironic, or believes women not of her class are the ones who should conform to these norms.
This is not only a dull present, but also a ____________ one.
It's amazing how Mrs. Gibson can make any situation about her.
What softens Lady Harriet's feelings toward Cynthia?
Dinners, even just for a family dinners, at grand estates like the Cumnors' would include several courses and could last hours. (This annotation contains an image)
How does this compare to the first time she stayed at the Towers?
Chapter 58 - Reviving Hopes and Brightening Prospects
Roger is beginning to see Molly in a different light. There is a twinge of jealousy here in his wondering why she is in the charge of Sir Charles. (This annotation contains an image)
What makes Molly uncomfortable about progressing from house to house?
Lady Harriet is very perceptive in her matchmaking skills. Lady Harriet chooses for Molly as Molly would have chosen for herself.
What is Mrs. Gibson's main disappointment about Cynthia's wedding?
This is an interesting aside about storytelling. What information do you think Molly is self-editing?
How have the changing times allowed such travels and customs to evolve?
Chapter 59 - Molly Gibson at Hamley Hall
How successful do you think Molly will be in avoiding Roger? Is she being foolish in this endeavor?
Why is it difficult for Molly to continue being so aloof toward Roger?
Now the Squire is laying the foundation for Roger to act upon his growing feelings for Molly.
What has changed about Molly's feelings toward Hamley Hall?
It is clear that illness was a constant part of life during this time period simply by the frequency in which it is used in the plot. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 60 - Roger Hamley's Confession
How was asking Roger's asking Molly to give him a flower a symbolic act?
At this point, anything that Mrs. Gibson says shouldn't be shocking to the reader, but this is an exceptionally harsh comment.
What realization has Molly come to?
Based on his lovesick behavior with Cynthia, do you trust the veracity of his emotions here toward Molly? How is Roger not just a fickle Romeo, or another Mr. Coxe?
What is Mr. Gibson's main concern about allowing Roger to marry Molly?
Why do you think all of these emotions are tempered with sadness?
This is the last chapter of the novel -- Mrs. Gaskell died before she could finish it. Write a few sentences imagining how she might have ended the story for Molly and Roger, and for a few of the other characters.