Series: North and South (Trilogy)

North and South is shorthand for a trilogy of books written by John Jakes: North and South, set during the antebellum period of American history, Love and War, which takes place during the Civil War, and Heaven and Hell, which covers Reconstruction and the period of western expansion that followed.

The focal point of the saga is a budding bromance between Orry Main of South Carolina and George Hazard of Pennsylvania. The two become best friends while attending West Point, but later find themselves and their families on opposite sides of the war. The slave-owning Mains are rural gentleman planters while the big-city Hazards are heavy in industry, their differences reflecting the social divisions that eventually led to the Civil War. Basically, it's a soap — but with a budget.

The books were adapted into a TV Mini Series starring Patrick Swayze and James Read. The series aired on ABC between 1985-94, clocking in at 1212 minutes. In addition to being a breakout role for Swayze, a number of then-unknown actors (Forest Whitaker and Jonathan Frakes, to name two) also saw their careers get a boost.

Not to be confused with the Elizabeth Gaskell novel and miniseries of the same name


This work provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Averted for the most part, though Ashton's perm occasionally strains credibility.
  • Age Cut: Used twice with young Brett and Ashton Main. Orry stays the same throughout.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Up to Eleven with Bent, who in the book is described as obese and just plain disgusting. Justified, since in the adaptation he's merged with Lamar Powell, Ashton's handsome lover.
    • Virgilia.
  • The Alcatraz: Infamous Libby Prison.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Ashton wraps her legs around every scoundrel in sight, but doesn't give her husbands the time of day. She suggests to one of her beaux, Forbes La Motte, that James Huntoon's essential decency is a turnoff.
    • Inverted with Mr. Fenway, who appears to be a milquetoast, dull man.... but is hiding a Machiavellian mind (and Tranquil Fury) underneath.
  • Alternate History: Book Two brushes up against an alternate history, with Bent plotting the assassination of Jefferson Davis.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In the books, Orry's arm is amputated following a skirmish. Fangirls don't go for that sort of thing, so Orry instead gains a limp in the miniseries.
    • John Jakes fought this for a while, but was ultimately convinced that Orry losing an arm would constantly take viewers out of the story, as they'd spend every scene trying to spot how Patrick Swayze was hiding his arm.
  • And Your Little Dog Too
  • Arranged Marriage: At the start of the North and South, Madeline is paired off with Justin La Motte, a wealthy plantation owner who is significantly older.
  • Artistic Title: A montage of ink drawings depicting the main characters. The sequence is different for each miniseries.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: George and Orry both attain high-level positions in the Union and Confederate Army, respectively. George conveniently ends up under Ulysses S. Grant's command, while Orry answers to no less than Jefferson Davis himself.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Orry and George in their first scene together.
  • Bastard Bastard: Bent was fobbed off onto an abusive foster home after his real father, a U.S. Senator, decided to cover up his own marital infidelities. The Bents mistreated him a good deal, and Sen. Edwards kept a wide berth. He only agrees to cut a check when Elkanah appears in his office as an adult — under the condition that he never turn up again.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Charles Main after his lover, Augusta, dies in childbirth.
  • Beard of Evil: Cooper Main. Bent grows one in the third miniseries.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Madeline always looks amazing, even when sleep-deprived, beaten, and drugged up her eyeballs on laudanum. Heaven & Hell elevates her to a "Hot Mess" as she works to rebuild Mont Royal.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Orry and George manage to meet every major figure in the Civil War and the abolitionist movement. In a minor example, Ashton marries the founder of Fenway Pianos.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Orry Main has bad luck with trains. The first time he arrives at a Yankee train station, he is harassed for his southern accent, leading into a brawl. The second time, Virgilia's mob stops the train and tries to lynch him. Why can't a redneck gentlemen travel by rail unmolested? The third time, Orry finally has enough, whips out his cutlass and goes to town on some muggers.
  • Big Bad: Elkanah Bent.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Madeline is forced to give up marrying into the Main family, knowing that her 'Negress' blood would disgrace them.
  • Black and White Insanity: Virgilia is against slavery. Sensible. Believing that everyone from the southern USA is Always Chaotic Evil? Not so sensible. And it keeps going downhill from there, with her ruining her own life and arguably becoming more of a liability to her cause rather than an asset.
  • Break the Cutie: Madeline Fabray.
  • Break the Haughty: Ashton collapses in the dirt when she sees the scorched remains of Mont Royal, which she worked for years to buy back. Her last scene suggests a sort of redemption for the character.
  • Bully Hunter & Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: This would be Orry and George's relationship with their old CO, Elkanah Bent.
    Bent: What do you want, Hazard? Your manner is offensive. And what's more, you're out of uniform.
    George: I'm glad you notice. Or else I couldn't give you this.
  • But Not Too Black: Madeline Fabray. If we're being honest, Swazye looks blacker.
    • Justified, since she had to be able to pass for a 100% white person and she's merely an octoroon.
  • Cain and Abel: Seems everybody has an evil sibling around someplace.
  • The Cameo: With a cast this humongous, there were bound to be a few.
    • Gene Kelly pops up in a blink-and-you'll-miss it role as Elkanah Bent's biological father.
    • Elizabeth Taylor plays a brothel madam in New Orleans.
    • Wayne Newton is the warden of a Confederate prison camp.
    • Johnny Cash as John Brown ("We most certainly are at war!").
    • Robert Englund as a slimy Confederate deserter.
  • Chained to a Rock: Suspecting his wife of infidelities, Justin locks Madeline in a room and keeps her heavily sedated.
  • Composite Character: Some in the adaptation, most obviously Series!Bent, who's a merge of Book!Bent and Lamar Powell, Ashton's lover. Arguably, Series!Bent gets more from Powell than from his book couterpart.
  • Cool Old Guy & Nature Hero: Adolphus the trapper. Not to be confused with Patches O'Houlihan.
  • The Corrupter: The Ku Klux Klan recruiter serves as thss to Cooper.
  • Cranky Landlord: Cooper Main, who we have not seen prior to Orry's death, rides in to pay his condolences and cheerfully reminds his widow that if she misses one payment, she's out on her ear. The remainder of Book Three consists of Cooper sabotaging her business, then pulling his hair out when she keeps making the rent.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Mr. Fenway. It's unclear whether "Fen" was shrewdly playing Ashton all along, or if her nonstop adultery drove him to those depths.
  • Damsel in Distress: Madeline, again.
  • Dark Secret: Ashton's discovery (through Bent) that Madeline's late mother was not only black, but a high-class prostitute to boot. Whistle where the quarters are.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: The La Mottes are an entire family of Whiplashes. Elkanah Bent and Ashton Main are the main contenders, though.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Orry's infant son.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Bent, in the books. Apparently, he didn't care as long as the person was willing. Crosses over into Abhorrent Admirer territory with Charles Main.
  • Dirty Coward: Bent again; emphasized many, many times in the books.
  • Domestic Abuse: Madeline's unpleasant marriage to Justin.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Orry is killed off at the beginning of Heaven and Hell. Through creative use of Archive Footage, Swayze walks through a doorway to be replaced by a stand-in, who (silently) bites the dust when Bent stabs him from behind.
  • Duel to the Death: Orry schools Charles in the finer arts of dueling prior to facing off against a aristocrat.
    • Another time, some of the Southern villains maneuver one of the Northern characters into a pistol duel with a sabotaged gun so they can murder him legally. Fortunately, the more sympathetic southerners learn what is going on and charge in to stop it.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the miniseries, young Ashton is first seen breaking a toy rather than letting her sister have it.
    • Early on, it's evident that Cadet Bent isn't playing with a full deck. During a Flynning match, he seems to get aroused when he slices a fellow cadet's neck.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: John Jakes heroes prefer to take the high road. John Jakes villains.... don't.
    • When Cooper shows up to gloat, Madeline politely says she's still not leaving Mont Royal, and wishes him well.
    Cooper: Why would you wish me that?
    Madeline: (exasperated sigh) Because I bear you no malice, Cooper.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Ye gods, Elkanah Bent. If you want a maniac done right, hire someone from Broadway.
    • Wayne Newton as the overseer of Libby Prison is quite a sight to behold. He hisses, his eyes bug out, he clacks his teeth maniacally. It's hard not to laugh at a sadist when he's on the brink of singing "Danke Schön" at any moment.
  • Evil Is One Big Happy Family: Bent and Ashton. A union between two people who so perfectly embody the notion of evil was inevitable.
  • Evil Is Petty: Bent never forgets. When ordered to quit leaning on George and Orry by his superior, Bent vents his frustration by knocking a cadet down a gulley.
  • Evil Virtues: Ashton's resourcefulness. She manages to go from Riches to Rags and back again, equipped with nothing but her sharp brain and industry (and a little thievery and murder doesn't hurt). Faint praise, but then most of the antagonists are so blackhearted that they don't even have virtues.
  • Expy: Raph is a pretty clear riff on Rhett Butler.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: George's weathered face is lined with irony as he utters the line, "We saved his life."
    • Madeline unwittingly makes an enemy by helping Ashton during her abortion. One of the Main family's slaves warns that Ashton won't Madelene to continue on in the family while knowing her shameful secret.
    • Virgilia, fresh from Harper's Ferry, shows up bedraggled at her family home. Despite the evil in-laws voting to get rid of her, Constance doesn't have the heart to turn Virgilia away. It turns out the bigots had a point; Virgilia ransacks the silver and splits.
  • Freudian Excuse: Bent turns out to be an illegitimate son of a U.S. Senator, who shilled him off on an abusive foster family rather than have anything to do with him.
  • Great Escape
  • Heel Face Door Slam: Virgilia in the miniseries.
  • Heel Realization: Ashton has one at the end of Book Two. She appears to have ignored it entirely in Book Three.
  • Hellish Horse: Bent's prized steed, Satan.
  • Henpecked Husband: Stanley Hazard and James Huntoon are married to an embezzler and a sociopath, respectively. Stanley gets bullied into betraying George and selling shoddy equipment to the Union forces, while Huntoon is merely a puppet for Ashton and Bent to carry out their plot.
    • Ashton's husband, Fen, appears to be a standard-issue cuckolded husband. He shows his true colors by withholding the purse strings to Ashton's money.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Orry getting bumped off at the start of Book 3. And Madeline's heart definitely does go on - with George Hazard.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Characters have a tendency to underestimate Madeline. In the closing scenes of Book Three, Ashton returns home with a newly-minted deed, announcing that Madeline's being evicted. Madeline chases after her by the arm, begging for mercy... but realizes she's wasting her breath and just decks her one.
  • Historical Fiction
  • Hollywood Old: Orry's greying streaks of hair.
  • Homosocial Heterosexuality: Madelyn is manipulated into an Arranged Marriage based entirely on his friendship with her father. This scenario is gradually rolled up retroactively after the protagonist loses contact with her only to find out that she's suddenly getting married.
  • Hot Guys Are Bastards: Bent has an uncanny ability to woo the ladies, particularly when he's short on cash.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: In Heaven and Hell, Ashton has been disowned by Orry and now irks out a living as a Santa Fe prostitute.
  • The Hyena: Ashton Main.
  • I Have Your Kid: In the final phase of his revenge plot, Bent kidnaps Charles Main's son to raise as his own.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him / Roaring Rampage of Revenge
  • In the Blood: Justin and Forbes Lamotte.
  • The Ingenue: Madeline Fabray. Brett Main starts out as this, too.
  • Injun Country: Charles and Adolphus in the third book.
  • Kill the Cutie: In the third book, Bent avenges himself on George by murdering his wife, Constance.
  • Laughably Evil: Ashton is plainly played for comedy, despite doing some despicable things.
  • Lean and Mean: In Chapters One and Two, Ashton is a quintessential fair-skinned, voluptuous aristocrat. By the time 1994 rolled along, Terri Garber was leaner and tanned from her role on Dynasty; it worked perfectly for a weather-beaten, hungrier Ashton.
  • List of Transgressions: Each time Bent appears, it's a safe bet that he'll rant about all the times George and Orry foiled his schemes.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Fairly standard for the genre.
  • Love Across Battlelines: Many, many examples. See the trope page for details.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Cuffey. "This is the only thing the white man understands. Cold steel."
  • Marital Rape License: Justin. Cuffey too.
  • Meet Cute: In their first scene together, Orry rescues Madeline from an overturned carriage.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Ashton shaking a gloved fist while proclaiming, "DAMN your Union!!"
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: As if Elkanah Bent wasn't over the top, he later earns the moniker "Butcher Bent" from his subordinates.
  • The Neidermeyer: Elkanah Bent is first introduced as this. As punishment for a perceived slight, he puts Orry though an series of torturous exercises. In fact, the only reason Bent stopped at all was the senior cadet, Ulysses S. Grant, tells him to back off.
  • Never Found the Body: Bent.
  • Not So Different: The Mains own slaves, but the Hazards' factory is a sweatshop, whose accommodations are even worse than that of the Mains' slaves. Orry is ready to remind George of this on quite a few occasions.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Cooper.
  • Politically Correct History
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Virtually all of the southern villains including Bent, Justin, and Ashton. Aside from the usual bigotries, Lincoln is repeatedly referred to as "that baboon" and "that illiterate".
    • George's evil sister-in-law won't stop harping about his "Irish slut" of a wife.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the books, Cooper does this when Charleston is celebrating the start of secession.
  • Preppy Name: Many, especially in the South. Ashton and Brett, Orry's sisters, are good examples.
  • Principles Zealot: Virgilia.
  • Professional Gambler: Raph.
  • Protect This House: Mont Royal is more secure than the Pentagon, as Justin learns when he comes to reclaim Madeline.
    Charles: (aims shotgun) I wouldn't do that.
    (shotguns emerge from every window in the house)
    • In Book Two, two disgruntled ex-employees from the Main plantation (Salem Jones and Cuffey) lead a band of scavengers to torch the house. The siege of Mont Royal ends up destroying the mansion, but the family manages to drive them off.
  • Pun-Based Title: The people who made the DVD chapter titles had a lot of fun with Bent's name.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil
  • Rich Bitch: Also numerous.
  • Romancing the Widow: In Heaven and Hell, George and Madeline.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The major characters, northerners and southerners, all start out wearing homogenous West Point uniforms. This image was the inspiration for the book trilogy.
  • Save the Villain: George and Orry rescue Elkanah Bent from drowning in an icy lake. He's not exactly grateful.
    Billy: You saved the wrong man, but you did the right thing.
    • Brett tries this with Virgilia, and for a while it even kind of works.
  • Scars Are Forever: Justin receives one from Madeline's sword slash.
  • Second-Act Breakup: In Love and War, Madeline deserts Orry after Ashton threatens to expose her black lineage and disgrace Orry's family. They finally reconcile after the war ends. Only in the miniseries, not in the novels.
  • See You in Hell: Ashton actually speaks to the dearly-departed (but not really) Bent, saying she expects to join him in Hell.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Madeline overhears Justin's plans to have Billy bumped off, but is too woozy from drugs to claw her way out of the house. Justin strikes her, but pauses a moment to tell his slaves to beat it — giving Madeline just enough time to unsheathe a decorative sword and bury it in her husband's face.
  • Sleazy Politician: Congressman Sam Greene.
    • Stanley Hazard and James Huntoon (Ashton's first husband) work with plenty of those; whether they are really all that sleazy themselves is debatable.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Virgilia, Cuffey, Cooper.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Bent repeatedly claims to be an outstanding military tactician, and especially loves to bring up how one of his West Point instructors compared him to Napoleon. We never see any evidence though; he mostly just shoots his own men. His father, the Senator, scoffs that he's full of hot air.
  • Spoiled Brat: Ashton never really grew up. Eventually, she is faced with no other choice but to do so.
  • Take Over the World: Bent's goal, in his own words, is to build a Southern "empire" and become the new Bonaparte. Somewhat subverted in that Bent doesn't even come close to succeeding.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: A southern aristocrat "demands satisfaction" from Charles, who can barely hold a sword— let along a dueling pistol. With Orry's help, Charles wins out in the end.
    • Forbes, acting under Ashton's orders, deliberately goads Billy into a duel with an unloaded pistol. Nice and legal.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Virgilia directs her Abolitionist mob to lynch Orry, but he slips away in time.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Charles grew up getting into scraps, took on 3 drunken brawlers at once, beat a man (in accuracy) at a duel, attended West Point, served Texas and fought Indians, as well as chased Mexican gang lords all over the country. When a buddy of Forbes decides to pull a knife on him at Billy's duel, Charles plainly informs him he picked the wrong man for that.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Pre-teen Ashton flirts with George in a rather shameless way. He's promptly creeped out.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Bent tries to murder Charles in this manner in Texas, but misses.
  • Uriah Gambit: Bent loves these, especially when he gets a chance to off a Main or a Hazard.
  • The Vamp: Ashton.
    • Somewhat inverted with Virgilia. This one is a sensitive case: She manipulates one of the Mains' slaves, Grady, into sleeping with her, then springs him from captivity. Grady eventually turns into a firebrand just like Virgilia (whom he marries), and is killed at Harper's Ferry. Their relationship is a complicated one, and Virigilia never stops mourning for Grady; but it really makes you wonder if she married him as part of a mere political statement.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Ashton's plans go up in smoke when she evicts Madeline from Mont Royal, only to discover that the house has long been burned down. She is then led away by her now-husband, signaling her (apparent) reformation.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Bent is plotting an elaborate takeover of North America by smuggling weapons to the south. Meanwhile, he'll turn around and spend the proceeds on contraband for an even bigger profit. He's a little optimistic about his "imperial" ambitions, but Jefferson Davis indeed confirms that those guns could have turned the tide of the war.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Virgilia befriends and eventually marries a freed slave named Grady.
  • Woman Scorned: After Billy Hazard leaves Ashton for her sister, Ashton conspires with a criminal to have him murdered.
    • In the miniseries, Virgilia agrees to serve as Congressman Greene's mistress in exchange for a judicial pardon. In his final scene, Greene reveals that Virgilia's name has been cleared for months; he was just stringing her along in exchange for sex. Virgilia goes berserk and shoots him dead.

Alternative Title(s):

North And South US