Margaret is incredibly straightforward about her ethical judgments about people. She often will state that someone was “not a gentleman,” implying she is measuring them according to an external standard of behavior to which she has become accustomed. She ruthlessly dislikes Mr. Thornton for a long time based on what she sees as his unkind business decisions (which hurt the people who work for him, in her mind, therefore he is something of a villain in her eyes for a long time, until he proves himself to be a man of integrity). She chastises her maid for upsetting her mother, reminding her of her position as a servant, but then encourages her that they must all make the best of it. She tends to be straightforward in her emotions and in sharing her feelings, sometimes giving men the wrong impression that she likes them (when she has no romantic interest in them). When Thornton proposes to her, she turns him down rather harshly (“I do not even like you!”) but then turns around and apologizes for her rudeness, stating that she hasn’t yet learned how to behave when men propose to her. She often strives to bring people together by mediating between them, but can also chastise them when needed. Margaret has no qualms in addressing anything she sees as immoral or unjust, and despite her strong feelings of dislike for him, feels guilt-ridden at the thought of causing Mr. Thornton pain. She is unhappy at the thought of relocating to another part of England that is vastly different from the life she has always known, but as she comes to participate in the various traditions and behaviors of Milton, she comes to understand and enjoy it. Margaret often compares her present life to her past one, and until she becomes accustomed to society, expects the same things that worked for her in the past (taking around “baskets” to poor families) to work in the present. Because her first encounter with Mr. Thornton was negative in two ways (firstly, that he would “concern himself” with their affairs, and that she saw him punch an employee), it takes Margaret a long time to overcome her negative feelings toward him. She is an open romantic with a bit of idealism that conflicts with her down to earth personality, but over time she comes to see the reasons behind Mr. Thornton’s decisions and to respect them. Her interest in learning new things and in striking out on her own, both in choosing a husband and in forming a new business venture, grows over time, as she learns to defy others’ expectations. She also becomes more astute at sensing what is actually going on, and accurately interpreting people’s mistaken impressions. When others approach the strike from a purely logical perspective, Margaret is offended at their heartlessness. She can’t imagine being so detached. But in time, she comes to see that her father’s decisions have not always been wise, and in analyzing her own behavior, that in some ways she was mistaken and even rude in her treatment of Mr. Thornton.

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Margaret is aggressive in helping people, providing for them, giving them food baskets, championing their cause, and demanding equal rights for them. She can be militant in how she attacks those who do not consider the greater moral good and welfare of their employees, and has no problem putting Mrs. Thornton in her place, when the woman presumes to lecture her about morality. She cares more about others’ needs and doing right by them than making peace, and can be forceful and commanding in her position, even willing to be the one voice of dissent in favor of providing for all at the dinner table. She does not mind drawing attention to herself among the factory owners, in an attempt to convince them to do the right thing. Her 1 wing makes her both critical of Mr. Thornton and determined to correct her own behavior, when she feels it has been in the wrong. She cannot stand the idea that he may have gotten the wrong notion about her, when he sees her with her brother, and feels anxious when she cannot be sincere or truthful with him. She judges people according to their actions and whether or not she deems them moral, just, and appropriate, and she also takes pains not to cause offense.