Elizabeth Gaskell’s Ruth: Chapter Nine Analysis

Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.

Brief Summary

Ruth is brought to the caring world of Mrs. Hughes’ Inn– the poky one across the way from Mrs. Morgan’s that Henry Bellingham mentioned earlier; his judgment once more is shown to be based solely on appearances. Mr. Benson is in some pain and resting but he implores Ruth to stay in the inn so he may speak to her. Mrs. Hughes kindly lets her stay where her own daughter usually does. She tries to encourage Ruth to eat and gives her some milk but the next day she finds Ruth terribly ill, it seems she is dying.

Quick Analysis

Gaskell continues to use nature to reflect the emotions of Ruth and foreshadow what’s to come.

Across the moon, and over the deep blue heavens, large, torn, irregular-shaped clouds went hurrying, as if summoned by some storm-spirit. The work they were commanded to do was not here; the mighty gathering-place lay eastward, immeasurable leagues; and on they went, chasing each other over the silent earth, now black, now silver-white at one transparent edge, now with the moon shining like Hope through their darkest centre, now again with a silver lining; and now, utterly black, they sailed lower in the lift, and disappeared behind the immovable mountains

Discussion Questions

  • How do you think Ruth’s life will change now?
  • What do you interpret from the imagery of the clouds?

Painting: The Coming Storm, Isle of Wight, by George Morland

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