Thornton Thursday– Hottest scene ever

I’m not going to lie. I don’t only read 19th century literature. I read a lot of fiction penned in the present day (but nearly always set in the past). And a lot of it is not sex-free. However, I honestly think nothing I have read is hotter than this scene by Elizabeth Gaskell from 1855.

Her voice had cleared itself and become more steady. Mr. Thornton did not speak, and she went on looking for some paper on which were written down the proposals for security; for she was most anxious to have it all looked upon in the light of a mere business arrangement, in which the principal advantage would be on her side. While she sought for this paper, her very heart-pulse was arrested by the tone in which Mr. Thornton spoke. His voice was hoarse, and trembling with tender passion, as he said:—

‘Margaret!’

For an instant she looked up; and then sought to veil her luminous eyes by dropping her forehead on her hands. Again, stepping nearer, he besought her with another tremulous eager call upon her name.

‘Margaret!’

Still lower went the head; more closely hidden was the face, almost resting on the table before her. He came close to her. He knelt by her side, to bring his face to a level with her ear; and whispered-panted out the words:—

‘Take care.—If you do not speak—I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way.—Send me away at once, if I must go;—Margaret!—’

At that third call she turned her face, still covered with her small white hands, towards him, and laid it on his shoulder, hiding it even there; and it was too delicious to feel her soft cheek against his, for him to wish to see either deep blushes or loving eyes. He clasped her close. But they both kept silence. At length she murmured in a broken voice:

‘Oh, Mr. Thornton, I am not good enough!’

‘Not good enough! Don’t mock my own deep feeling of unworthiness.’

After a minute or two, he gently disengaged her hands from her face, and laid her arms as they had once before been placed to protect him from the rioters.

‘Do you remember, love?’ he murmured.

Sigh. I mean I’m an old married lady with two kids and well-acquainted with bedroom activities and I’m seriously turning into a puddle of need over this. It’s not just that I can feel the chemistry between them. It’s full of actual love, not just lust. It’s the longing and fear. The acknowledgment of pain and desperation. The timid hope, the feeling of complete awe at your good fortune.

Romance authors need to take a serious number from Gaskell’s tactic here. Love is hotter than lust any day of the week. I don’t really have a lot of deep observations here. I’ll leave you with the best on-screen kiss ever which I think perfectly captures the sentiment of this scene. While it takes place in a train station, which would be beyond the pale of Victorian propriety I not only like the full circle of all the train images and the closure to the pain Thornton felt seeing Margaret with Frederick at the station, but Edith’s drawing room is only just barely more private.

If you haven’t seen this adaptation, you must and let me treat you to the best 90 seconds ever to be filmed. You’re welcome.

10 thoughts on “Thornton Thursday– Hottest scene ever

    1. I think seeing the series first made it harder to enjoy the book. I kept wanting to fast forward through some spots and some things are altered. The conflict and tension is much stronger in the series. I will say, though, that Book Thornton never beats a man in his factory like in the opening scene. There’s literally nothing like that. Margaret comes to think he might be a cruel master through gossip and not even really about him. I think the series does more to make him look like a man in need of reform. However, the whole thing is so lovely and I think hones in on the romance and heartbreak that is sometimes lost in the book.

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  1. I love the BBC adaptation of North and South, staring Richard Armatage.
    While reading your quote I could just picture him saying the words, to be honest he will always be my Mr John Thornton.

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  2. Who is Elizabeth Gaskell and why have I never heard of this? Seems like I have missed out big time but luckily, that can be rectified 😉
    As an even older married lady than you, I have no qualms on the smut but… I heartily agree with your sentiments here. I think that creating sexual tension, like Gaskell does in this scene, is much more exhilarating than very explicit sex scenes, just saying…
    I also wonder… if others think like me, that the smut gets boring when it is too much of it with very little story inbetween?
    PS: Loved that kissing scene but my favourite is still Bridget Jones diary.

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    1. Oh goodness!! You have to get some Gaskell in your life! She was a British author during the Victorian era and I think she’s more talented than the Bronte sisters. She was their contemporary and friend. She even wrote a biography on Charlotte Bronte after her death. North and South deals with the Industrialization of the North and the “culture clash” a young woman faces when she moves there from the more rural southern part of England. There’s some major pride and prejudice going on between both the main characters but neither one of them are really Darcy or Elizabeth inspired. Thornton is so honorable! If you think it takes awhile for Elizabeth to get a clue, it takes Margaret much longer! There’s also some delightful variations out there once you read this one.

      I have read some really explicit things and it’s nice but I really prefer love over lust! I haven’t read Bridget Jones Diary but I’ve seen the movie. Do you mean the “good boys don’t kiss like that” scene? That is a good one!

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  3. Oh goodness me. Sigh…double sigh…TRIPLE sigh….Richard Armitage/John Thornton. I have played that scene over and over in the past 6 mo. or so since I viewed the movie again after a many year absence. I totally agree about it’s being hotter than an actual bedroom scene. I read a lot of Regency and JAFF that is quite warm in regards to depiction of romance. I am completely fine with it, as long as it is shown that the couple are doing it from love and commitment. Thanks for the lift I needed today.

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    1. I honestly watch at least that scene probably two or three times a month and regularly watch the entire series. I don’t mind a good bedroom scene and have read scenes that would probably make most others blush but the ones that stay with me are when it’s more about the love than the act.

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  4. Well, I see my education has a few holes in it! I have read some of Gaskell and adore the Cranford adaptation, but I haven’t read or seen North and South. I must fix that!

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