Art & Design Magazine


By Mariagrazia @SMaryG
VICTORIAN HEROES:  MR MORAY vs MR THORNTON Too great a temptation. Comparing them, I mean.  I was thinking: what about making  them compete in a challenge?  John Thornton from Milton, the hero of BBC North and South (2004) facing Mr John E. Moray from BBC The Paradise (BBC 2012). But what kind of a competition? Kind of “who makes more money in given time”? The  two men are quite competitive, as a matter of fact.  However, since I couldn't find any good idea for a competition, what about simply comparing them? Without even asking you to choose who’s better  or to pick up a favorite. Well, you can do that, if you wish, of course. Just choose your champion and tell us in your comments. As for me,  I won't do that, I’ll just draw a comparison between the two characters trying to point out  similarities and differences. Don't ask me to choose. 
VICTORIAN HEROES:  MR MORAY vs MR THORNTON Not having read Zola’s novel (of which the series The Paradise is an adaptation) but only Mrs Gaskell ‘s work which instead inspired BBC 2004 series , I can’t compare the literary characters the two authors designed.  I’ll focus on the two Victorian gentlemen as they have been depicted in the TV costume series.
I can’t hide that North and South is one of my favorite literary works and the 2004 BBC mini-series  one  I’m definitely fond of.  Regular readers already know this and much more about me & the tall, dark, handsome actor giving life to John Thornton, Richard Armitage. To have an idea what I am talking about, new ones can just have a look at my Richard Armitage page   (click HERE).  Honestly poor Mr Moray starts from  quite a disadvantaged position in this challenge: he must cope with a loyal , years’ long   dedication to Mr RA and his John Thornton. But I’m ready to be magnanimous,  since I didn’t mind him at all.  Mr Emun Elliott  and his Mr Moray have got his talents too.
VICTORIAN HEROES:  MR MORAY vs MR THORNTON It has just come to my mind that I have already set a challenge for Mr T. , it was some time ago. I made  fascinating broody mill-owner John Thornton face a romantic myth  like Mr Darcy  and what came out was that Austen dashing baronet was easily surpassed, at least in my heart ( see Mr Darcy vs Mr Thornton). What now? Why do I want to push him to fight a new duel? Do you remember what happened in the riot scene of North and South? When Margaret spurred  John Thornton  to face the angry mob? He did it! He is a brave hero, indeed. Now, he doesn’t need courage to compete with Mr Moray. It’ll be more like a game of cards between gentlemen. 
Here we go then. VICTORIAN HEROES:  MR MORAY vs MR THORNTON While recently watching  The Paradise I went on thinking and thinking about  North and South, especially noticing  analogies between the two male protagonists.  
When I heard Moray ask Denise: “Will you call me John? I long to be called by my name”   I thought:  “Oh, no! Another John.  A name, a destiny”
It was episode 6, John Moray was in his white shirt puffed sleeves and waistcoat and had loosen his neck tie. Does that remind you anything? A destiny. 
Once the formal jacket is off, tenderness prevails and who can resist a Victorian successful self-made man and his seductive skills and gorgeous looks when caught in a moment of fragility and needing sympathy? This happens in both stories, doesn't it? 
But let’s try to give the matter some order and especially  to achieve our purpose. What do the two men have in common, same name included? They are both
  • Victorian  characters (Thornton 1840s, Moray 1870s)
  • self-made  business men,  coping with financial troubles, dealing with the ups and downs of the market
  • ambition-driven, hard-working, proud, strong-willed, passionate, extremely focused on the success of their business
  • they are thoughtful and take care of their employees  being  sympathetic to them (though Thornton gets to be like that only later on in the story
  • hide a fragile side when it comes  to feelings and women
  • range  from extreme tenderness to fierce fury,  emotionally
VICTORIAN HEROES:  MR MORAY vs MR THORNTON Anyway, the differences are also quite remarkable. 
While Mr Thornton is a successful mill-owner who raised himself and his family working hard after his father went bankrupt and killed himself, Moray is an ex draper's boy with unknown background who has built an empire from nothing: he is now  the manager of a huge department store,  which is a completely new capitalistic  venture for the time.
While Gaskell’s hero is brooding and quite reserved , responsible, cautious and grounded,   Moray is  ironic, self –confident, non-chalant , cheeky, daring and enterprising. Mr Thornton always wears a black suit and is stiffened in his cravat, Mr Moray exhibits a bizarre,  fashionable , colourful  style and prefers neck ties. VICTORIAN HEROES:  MR MORAY vs MR THORNTONWhile Mr Thornton sounds quite inexperienced in matters of the heart and feels tense and even awkward when  in   Margaret’s presence,  Mr Moray is always dashing  and alluring in  his ways  with women (though that does not mean he hasn't got troubles in dealing with them!) While in Mr Gaskell’s story  we can recognize the prudery of the Victorian frame of mind, in The Paradise  sexuality  seems to have quite a modern connotation: women (Clara, Katherine, Denise) declare their love to  Moray or even offer themselves to him - though his being guilt ridden for his wife’s tragic death,  makes him punish himself trying to live a life without feelings or sex.
Charming, fascinating heroes, aren’t they?  Do we really have to make a choice? Being part of our dream world, can’t we say there is space for them both and even  more?
Discover more about the men behind the characters
Visit Emun Elliott (Mr Moray) at imdb

Visit Richard Armitage (Mr Thornton) at imdb

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