Gibson is one of the main characters in Wives and Daughters, the wry village doctor, and father of Molly, one of the most endearing and admirable characters in English literature. Gibson has a series of assistants working with him, most of whom underwhelm him with their intelligence. But I like the way he persists in exploring whether the hapless Mr Wynne is capable of starting – not even completing – an original thought.

‘Mr Gibson used to talk over his practice with Mr Wynne, and try to elicit his opinion in the vain hope that, some day or another, Mr Wynne might start an original thought.’

Source: Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters (London: Penguin Classics, 1986 (1866)), p. 77


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