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Charles Dickens: Hard Times Essay

2075 words - 8 pages

11(b) Select two episodes and show how far and in what ways they illustrate Dickens's condemnation of Victorian England.In your answer you should: · Explore and explain your own views of Dickens's presentation of human evils; · Look closely at the production of emotional propaganda; · Comment on the place of relevant issues such as the Industrial Revolution.Hard Times is essentially a didactic satire upon the Victorian social, industrial and educational systems, like Charles Kingsley and Elizabeth Gaskell before him Charles Dickens ponders the "condition of England". Unlike some of his contemporaries Dickens never directly criticises mill-owners, so as to keep his middle-class audience, and this is sometimes highlighted as a limitation of Hard Times. Dickens chooses to take the easy route, by bowing to the pressure to not appear supportive of working-class revolutionary behaviour and to not antagonise mill-owners. However, Hard Times was published in instalments in Dickens's magazine Household Words, by publishing his book in this environment it gains more significance due to the fact that it is taken it context, when surrounded by other fictional and non-fictional works and the two worlds begin to merge. This allows Dickens to avoid blatant attacks upon industry, whilst enhancing the framework of his message by accompanying it with more descriptive and damning reports and accounts.Though Dickens never depicts the horrific scenes of the factories and the dangers of the mills run by self-interested owners he originally did have a section of the novel devoted to it. This section told of Rachael's sister and how she had been mutilated by poorly guarded machinery in a mill. This speech held massive similarities with an article by Henry Morley, published alongside Hard Times in Household Words, Morley wrote: "˜There are many ways of dying. Perhaps it is not good when a factory girl, who has not the whole spirit of play spun out of her for want of meadows, gambols upon balls of wool, a little too near the exposed machinery that is to work it up, and is immediately seized, and punished by the merciless machine that digs its shaft into her pinafore and hoists her up, tears out her left arm at the shoulder joint, breaks her right arm, and beats her head'. However, by first removing the footnote linking the article and the speech, and then by removing the speech all together Dickens confirmed that he was not prepared to follow through his condemnation of the mill-owners.The closest that Dickens comes to direct criticism of the mill-owners is in Book 2, Chapter 1 when he describes "˜Coketown"¦shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun's rays"¦a dense formless jumble, with sheets of cross light in it that showed nothing but masses and darkness'. Within this bleak description, highlighted with the use of light and dark imagery, Dickens...

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