Social Classes of Industrial England in Charles Dickens' Hard Times
In his novel, Hard Times, Charles Dickens used his characters to describe the caste system that had been shaped by industrial England. By looking at three main characters, Stephen Blackpool, Mr. Josiah Bounderby, and Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, one can see the different classes that were industrial England.
Stephen Blackpool represented the most abundant and least represented caste in industrial England, the lower class (also called the hands) in Charles Dickens' novel. Stephen was an honest, hard-working man who came to much trouble in the novel, often because of his class. He came to Mr. Bounderby one day seeking a divorce from his alcoholic and runaway wife who did nothing but drink his earnings away. When he asked about if there were any laws that could separate them, Mr. Bounderby replied that there was but "it's not for you at all. It costs money. It costs a mint of money" (70). Later, Stephen was framed for the robbery of a bank, in part because of his class. Young Tom Gradgrind made it appear that Mr. Blackpool robbed the bank by telling him that he would help him and to wait outside the bank for several nights. Because he was just a hand, he was quickly suspected whereas young Tom was not until much later, because he was of a higher social order. The ordeals that Stephen Blackpool faced were used by the author to show the troubles that the entire lower class faced.
Mr. Josiah Bounderby was used as an example of the growing middle class or...