North and South draws on Gaskell's own experiences of the poverty and hardship of life in the industrial north of England. Her heroine, Margaret Hale, is taken from the wealthy south by her nonconformist minister father, to live in a fictional northern town. The stark differences are explored through Margaret's abrupt change in circumstance, and her sympathetic reaction to the plight of the northerners. She comes into conflict with a local mill owner who proposes marriage to her. The two undergo a series of misunderstandings and changes of heart before they are reunited.