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Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Book Overview: 

The book is a social novel, dealing with Victorian views about sin and illegitimacy. It is a surprisingly compassionate portrayal of a ‘fallen woman’, a type of person normally outcast from respectable society. The title of the novel refers to the main character Ruth Hilton, an orphaned young seamstress who is seduced and then abandoned by gentleman Henry Bellingham. Ruth, pregnant and alone, is taken in by a minister and his sister. They conceal her single status under the pretense of widowhood in order to protect her child from the social stigma of illegitimacy. Ruth goes on to gain a respectable position in society as a governess, which is threatened by the return of Bellingham and the revelation of her secret.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .hing you all night, and had just gone out in the morning for a breath of fresh air, this girl pushed herself before me, and insisted upon speaking to me. I really had to send Mrs Morgan to her before I could return to your room. A more impudent, hardened manner, I never saw."

"Ruth was neither impudent nor hardened; she was ignorant enough, and might offend from knowing no better."

He was getting weary of the discussion, and wished it had never been begun. From the time he had become conscious of his mother's presence, he had felt the dilemma he was in in regard to Ruth, and various plans had directly crossed his brain; but it had been so troublesome to weigh and consider them all properly, that they had been put aside to be settled when he grew stronger. But this difficulty in which he was placed by his connexion with Ruth, associated the idea of her in his mind with annoyance and angry regret at the whole affair. He wished, in the languid way in which. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Others might have found this book problematic because of all the scriptural references that Mrs. Gaskell quotes but I found it refreshing and loveable. Her writing is very sympathatic towards Ruth although not all of the characters in this novel are near being as Christ-like as Mr. and Miss Benson.

Una novela que redime el estigma de muchas mujeres en la sociedad victoriana. Estupenda, Gaskell no decepciona.

Y la edición de D' Época tampoco, dado que hay un anexo donde explican las circunstancias de la época, como se recibió este libro y que Hardy lo tomo de referencia para Tess.

I went into Ruth having been told that this was a depressing story. Well, it both is and it isn’t. It is a tale about a fallen woman in the Victorian era. She is also an orphan. She is not a prostitute, not even flirtatious, but she is pretty. What the book does remarkably well is put you there in h

Apparently Elizabeth Gaskell took a lot of flak for her heroines, some at least who were less than ideal ladies of their era. Mary Barton of Gaskell's first novel made some poor choices and Ruth here seems to have been a bit naive as well. What the author got in trouble for, faced social censorship*

I was moved by the book. But I would recommend North and South if you are a newbie to Gaskell.

What to expect?
- Ruth portrayed as the extra angelic girl with no vices (made her seem less realistic)
-underlying commentary on whether good looks = good character
- view points about illegitimacy
- social pe

Gaskell as always is brilliant. I love her characterisation and dialogue and Ruth is a fascinating, interesting read, especially in terms of its discussion of morality, gender and sexuality in Victorian society.

Poor, poor Ruth.

In Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell takes on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality with regard to "fallen" women. Sixteen year old Ruth is an orphan and very trusting and naive when she is seduced by the charm of Mr Bellingham. The book tells of her mistreatment by society when he callously dis

I like Elizabeth Gaskell more and more as I begin to engage with her novels beyond North and South. Sylvia's Lovers, which I read last year, I thought genuinely one of the great Victorian novels. Ruth is an earlier work (dating to 1853, Gaskell’s second novel after Mary Barton), and you can tell tha

Ruth is Elizabeth Gaskell’s tale of an orphaned girl who falls into the hands of an unscrupulous man and finds herself in the usual predicament that such girls face. What might, in our time, be a difficulty but barely raise an eyebrow, was, in Victorian times, a serious path to ruin for both the gir

It's funny; Gaskell's novels seems to me to be what everyone thinks of as a "Victorian novel," and yet she is not really read or taught widely. Just a thought.

Unlike some of the other readers, I did not love the character of Ruth. A lot of people say that Victorian heroines are always too good to be

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