She gives us a sympathetic and spirited heroine in Margaret Hale, who is wise beyond her years. Another colorful character is Nicholas Higgins. You will find yourself looking forward to his scenes because he provides the humor in an almost-humorless book.
Mr. Thornton is a character we can readily identify with--someone who triumphs over adversity and seeks to constantly better himself. Someone with high standards, yet none higher than he holds himself to. Margaret is his match in every way.
There are many plot similarities with Pride and Prejudice in the love story. We have characters of different class backgrounds who are initially repelled but who come to appreciate each other and are kept apart by misunderstandings and circumstances. The proposal scenes are strikingly familiar, and the first proposal includes almost the same language (re gentlemanlike behavior) that Elizabeth speaks to Darcy. And we have a Lady Catherine DeBourgh character in Mrs. Thornton, who does her best to drive the lovers apart. But you cant fault Mrs. Gaskell for borrowing plotlines from the master.