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Russian Formalism Essay

840 words - 3 pages

Fairy Palaces and Elephants (a.k.a. Factories and the Machinery inside them)Symbolism, Imagery, AllegoryThis one is from the narrator and runs throughout the novel: the idea that the ugly, square, fact-based, oppressive mills look like fairy palaces with elephants in them when they are lit up at night. The image first pops up as something a person riding by Coketown in a fast-moving train might say - in other words, someone who doesn't know any better what the reality of the place actually is. It's an idea dripping with irony, since we already know that there is nothing beautiful or magical about the factories. Then, in a pretty neat trick, "Fairy Palaces" becomes kind of a nickname for the mills, and is used whenever Dickens needs to poke readers awake and yet again quickly remind them how awful life is for the factory workers.Fire, Sparks, and AshesSymbolism, Imagery, AllegoryPurely a Louisa thing here, since she's a big fan of sitting around staring at the fire and thinking about life. There are two strands to this image. One is for fires in the fireplace, which send up little burning ashes that extinguish and fall. The second is for the fires inside the factory chimneys, which lie dormant all day and then suddenly burst forth at night. It's not really clear what we're meant to take from these images. Is Louisa the ashes - her life's energy will be used when she is still very young, and she will spend the rest of her life as ashes, a waste product? Or is she the fiery chimney - seemingly very quiet, reserved, cool, and detached, but secretly waiting for the right moment to burst forth with all her passion aglow? Or is the idea to connect Louisa with a more mystical scene of a wise woman, oracle, or shaman, looking into the village fire before she speaks some kind of primal truth to whoever is nearby?Turtle Soup, Venison, and a Gold SpoonSymbolism, Imagery, AllegoryBounderby's old standby whenever he wants to talk smack about the things his workers want is to bust out their unreasonably (and obviously totally fictitious) desire to eat this fancy, expensive meal. There are probably a couple of things to explore in this symbol of good living. First, this goes to describe another part of Bounderby's character. He is good at making up stories (ahem, lying) so this is yet another myth he invents, this time about the unionized factory Hands. Second, it's interesting that of all the possible ways to...

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