Hard times critical essay

Socialists saw the machine as a symbol of oppression when controlled by money-making capitalists. Dickens has lost his good humor. His tone becomes quite serious.

Hard Times Study Guide | GradeSaver

Cecilia Jupe and Louisa are serious and suffering characters. Though humble and natural, Sissy is predictably bookish. Louisa is tragic. The novel ends in a thematic balance. The novel begins with the childhood of the mind and ends with the childhood of the body.

Dickens begins the story with reason and hard facts and ends it with fancy and imagination.

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He believes that both machine and social graces should make life beautiful and worth living. The loss of balance in society is undoubtedly lamentable. Dickens brings out the unreality of Coketown and its ominous power. It stands at the edge of doom stifling the lives of its inhabitants, definitely an ideal setting for the manifestation of a utilitarian philosophy.

Dickens brought out the negative effects of Victorian utilitarianism through the characters of Thomas Gradgrind and Josiah Bounderby. The practical utilitarianism of Gradgrind and the egotism of Bounderby destroyed the creative spirit and fellow feeling of the small community. Utilitarianism is a philosophy based on a minimalist view of man that understood human nature in terms of economic relations alone.

Though riddled with self-contradictions it was responsible in some measure for reforms in administration, sanitation and education. Utilitarianism, though inspired by the theory of laissez faire came to represent a streamlined civil service and centralized governance.

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Dickens seemed to be both a victim and chronicler of such a contradictory response to utilitarianism. Utilitarianism promoted a theory of laissez faire and came to represent a streamlined civil service and centralized administration. This contradiction is evident both in his treatment of education and trade unionism. There is no domestic sweetness in the novel, no lover for Sissy, no wedding bells. Louise escapes her foolish husband Bounderby only by becoming a widow.

Though she dreams about future happiness we know it is just wishful thinking. The novel is a dark novel made darker by the bleak landscape of Coketown. Even the familiar landscape of London is missing. In the name of economic growth people were becoming greedier and heartless. Their misguided sense of social welfare and profit was destroying the healthy and natural tenor of English social life. The British historian Eric Hobsbawm has point ed o ut industrialization was not just a function of western capitalism but also of British control of world trade through naval supremacy and a concerted foreign policy to make profit overseas.

However, the keen desire to realize economic and social progress through industrialization forced people to lose their natural rhythms and become a victim of mechanical rhythms. Trying to become a part of industrial progress most people lost their emotions, humanity and imagination. Both Thomas Gradgrind and Josiah Bounderby are products of th e industrial ethos. Gradgrind tries to bring up his children and pupils through the study of hard facts, while his friend Bounderby exploits the factory workers for his own profit.

Gradgrind became sick. Grandgrind was not a cruel man but on the contrary an affectionate father who thought of himself as practical and methodical. Josiah Bounderby is described as a machine of the nineteenth century.

Dickens’ Hard Times in Our Hard Times

There is a sense of regret and loss of a beautiful world of fancy that facts have destroyed. And at the center of it all is Mr. Dickens felt that there was more to life than just economic success. It was not just to brand the discontented and disenchanted as dregs of society and send them to prison but to see their humanity and help them regain it. Dickens welcomed the general progress brought about by industrialization but condemned the ill-effects on society. All future references are from this text and are incorporated in the main body of the essay and marked HT in parenthesis.

New York: W. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.


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Why do I write historical fiction? I want to write books with the same power to transport readers into another time and place. By Mukesh Williams Even after two hundred years, Charles Dickens is relevant in our world where capitalism is in crisis and democracy hard to sustain. Victorian Utilitarianism Dickens brought out the negative effects of Victorian utilitarianism through the characters of Thomas Gradgrind and Josiah Bounderby.

This contradiction is evident both in his treatment of education and trade unionism Turning Men into Machines There is no domestic sweetness in the novel, no lover for Sissy, no wedding bells. Culture and Imperialism. Thanks for sharing!

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Essays on Hard Times

We publish short historical fiction as well as history-based nonfiction, poetry, reviews, and interviews. Bookmark the permalink. The essay depends on what seems initially an aesthetic opposition between show and Art, between "fanciful flight" and Literature, but these critical terms also demark class and gender boundaries that preserve the dominant literary culture. Dickens becomes "the showman beating on the drum," who appeals to the "savage" not the "educated eye," to "readers to whom all the refinements of Art and Literature are as meaningless hieroglyphs. Browse all BookRags Study Guides.

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