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Hard Times Literary Essay

976 words - 4 pages

Charles Dickens uses satire in his novel Hard Times as he attempts to bring to light social issues such as class division, education, and industrialization in nineteen-century English society. Hard Times was originally published in weekly segments in Dickens’ magazine, Household Words, from April 1854 to August 1854 (Cody 1). In order to better fit into the Libraries at the time, Charles Dickens divided Hard Times into three books: Sowing, Reaping, and Garnering. Each book with its own theme, guides us through the lives of the characters living in the fictional city Dickens calls, “Coketown.”
Much like the sowing of seeds in a garden, Dickens uses Book the First: Sowing, to plant the ...view middle of the document...

His son Tom, for instance, grows up to be a lying thief who frames another man for his crimes, while his daughter, Louisa lives in a loveless marriage filled with infidelity after she eventually marries Josiah Bounderby only to please her father.
Josiah Bounderby, Mr. Gradgrind’s best friend, grew up poor but has since become a very successful “banker, merchant, and manufacturer,” thanks to the age of industrialization (Dickens, 26). He repeatedly reminds us throughout the book, that he is “Josiah Bounderby of Coketown.” This statement is usually followed by a lengthy description of how terrible his childhood was (199, 237, 309, 444). Mr. Bounderby’s vanity has contributed to the bad relationships between the rich and the poor. For example, Mr. Bounderby relishes in the fact that Mrs. Sparsit, a once prominent English aristocrat, has fallen on hard times and is now forced to be working as one of his servants (78). Mr. Bounderby constantly belittles his factory employees, calling them “the Hands” (117) and believes that are lazy and worthless people who expect to be “fed with gold spoons” (200). He argues that his success is due purely to his own self-discipline and hard work (27), whereas his “Hands” are impoverished due to their lack of such self-discipline and work ethic.
Stephen Blackpool, in contrast, is introduced as one of Mr. Bounderby’s factory hands. Stephen lives a life of poverty and hardship, however he is an honest and compassionate man with good morals (Dickens 117-118). At Mr. Bounderby’s factory, Stephen is the only factory worker who refuses to join the other factory workers in forming a workers union. Stephen believes the only way to get through to the factory owners is if the workers walk out and strike (262). In a failed effort to get through to his boss, Mr. Bounderby, about the working conditions at the factory, Stephen is...

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