Hard Times as a Novel of Social Realism Is Wholly Unsuccessful Essay Sample

‘Hard Times’ is a novel based on a short visit made by the writer Charles Dickens to a town similar to ‘Coketown’ called Preston. He made this journey in an effort to place the societal job of the development of mill workers. Dickens was sensitive to the societal maltreatments which pervaded the Victorian society and so with an attack of a useful denial of human imaginativeness ; he used the mills of the fictional Coketown and juxtaposed them with the contrasting. inventive and eccentric universe of Sleary’s circus. ‘Hard Times’ therefore trades with a scope of societal issues including divisions of a on the job category. rights of the ‘common people’ to prosecute in notional amusement or amusement and most of all an instruction for the less fortunate in this society. David Lodge in his essay suggests that the fresh ‘manifests its individuality as a polemical work ; a review of mid-Victorian industrial society dominated by philistinism. acquisitiveness and ruthlessly competitory capitalist economics’ ( Lodge. 1969 ) . In the clip of Dickens’ authorship of the fresh these qualities would hold been represented specifically from the Utilitarian position.

Dickens represents the industrial society with his fictional ‘Coketown’ puting. Coketown is emphasised as a ‘city of fact’ which introduces the agencies of a unfavorable judgment or onslaught on the useful rules. The dwellers of this town deficiency individualism and freedom. coercing them to go merely merchandises of a mercenary society. The accent on fact is repetitive within this community and is drilled into the heads of everyone within it. In schools all kids are taught merely facts and non to allow themselves be drawn into imaginativeness or ‘fancy’ . Dickens was required to compose Hard Times in 20 subdivisions to be published over a period of five months in his magazine ‘Household words’ . He has filled the novel with his ain doctrine and symbolism. Dickens expounds his doctrine in two ways: through consecutive third-person expounding and through the voices of his characters. As a novel of societal pragmatism. his attack to world is allegorical in nature ; his secret plan traces the consequence of rational instruction of ‘cold difficult fact’ on Gradgrind’s two kids and the effort to implement this government of learning merely fact without any hint of illusion or imaginativeness on the kids of the school.

He highlights two jobs in the text of his novel ; the most of import one is that of the educational system and what divides the school of Facts and the circus school of Fancy. Cissy is taken from the society in which she is able express herself and placed in a restricting society where she is made to stamp down her cognition of the notional word picture of the circus. This shows that the positive facets of society can non be destroyed easy. Fancy. imaginativeness. compassion and hope will ne’er vanish as they are an indispensable portion of human nature which dickens conserves in such characters as Cissy. Rachael and Sleary. The struggles of the two universes of the classroom and the circus represent the grownup attitudes toward life. While the classroom dehumanizes the small bookmans. the circus. all fancy and love. restores humanity. Dickens shows this contrast between the two separate universes persuasively in ‘Hard Times’ . The unfavorable judgment which could be made on this component of conveying the two wholly contrasting societies ; the capitalistic life style and the lives of the workers would be improbable to co-occur with each other.

It is unrealistic of this clip to visualise a alteration in the society towards a more positive result. The 2nd job trades with the economic relationships of labour and direction between the workers and the foremans. In this we see that Dickens lets the educational system be dominated by. instead than function. the economic system. His doctrine. expounded through his characters. is best summarized by Sleary. who says that people should do the best of life. non the worst of it. Dickens therefore offers the circus in the novel as a redress in one sense. The character who leads the circus. Sleary. could be perceived as an solution to the job. In his address ‘People mutht be amuthed. They cant alwayth be larning. nor yet they cant alwayth be working. they aint made for it’ . He speaks out against the industrial leaders of instruction. Gradgrind and Bounderby. Their position of life is entirely materialist indicated by their methods of learning. or instead enforcing facts upon anyone and everyone. This perceptual experience of life can and will be really confining and is portrayed by Dickens throughout the fresh screening how disastrously this manner of life can neglect.

‘Now what I want is facts. learn these male childs and misss facts and nil else. ’ Dickens purpose in this line of action could be to discredit the policies of this instruction method. The characters in Hard times are all what would be termed ‘flat’ . There is no development. In the debut of a character. the most outstanding facets are elaborate such as Bounderby’s ‘Large brown protuberant eyes’ and there is an indicant of the background of the character. nevertheless this debut is held throughout the novel and lasts until the terminal of the narrative. The reader is given a psychological portrayal of Bounderby for illustration as a ‘self-made adult male. ’ He is an single capitalist and arguably Capitalism personified. Dickens portrays the lone favourable quality of this character to be that he has dragged himself from the destitute society in which he was born. to the adult male he has become. However we find subsequently on in the novel that this has been a prevarication. a notional word picture of what he wanted the universe to believe. Bounderby did stand for the opinion categories and the businessperson of the present. although when we learn that he has lied and was brought up in a happy loving place by his female parent he loses his land.

Devils can be commended for the portraiture and representation of the leaders in his onslaught on capitalist economy. However Dickens is on less secure land with the character of Stephen Blackpool. It is questionable whether Dickens could portray such a serious topic accurately given that he learned of the ailments of this society through a short visit to a town seized by the industrialization. Dickens does look to understand the place of the leaders. those being Bounderby and Gradgrind. in society nevertheless he is on less secure land on the function of Stephen as a victim of societal subjugation. The intent of the novel is apparently to demo the resistance between ‘fact’ and ‘fancy’ and that both are needed to do society a better topographic point. In the instance of Stephen. the affairs which are responsible for his ruin are more personal instead than a consequence of the milieus throughout his narrative. He falls in love when he is already married to another adult female. Dickens does non travel into any item of the ‘day to day’ modus operandi of the workers in the mills nevertheless it would take more than a short visit to the work stoppage scene in Preston to be able to dramatise and accurately portray this in any deepness.

It is hence important that non in any fortunes in the novel does Dickens try to travel into this item. Although Dickens does look to understand the places of the leaders. when it comes down to the workers it is apparent that he is non accurately portraying the place of the workers. In the address by Slackbridge which begins ‘Oh my friends’ it could be suggested that it is improbable that the leaders would hold spoken to the workers in this manner. Dickens seems to hold intentionally falsified in a sense the nature of the Trade Unions and the leaders. Dickens’ statement overall in difficult times is that Utilitarianism consequences in detrimental poverty of the moral and emotional life of an person. He was opposed to the beliefs that sustained the ‘lassez faire’ attack to societal jobs. Dickens believed in the imaginativeness and humanistic disciplines. He besides uses symbolism in the novel in order to stress the obtuseness in comparing with the people of each society. Dickens’ symbolism takes such signifiers as Coketown’s being a ‘brick jungle. strangled in sameness and smoke’ . ‘the burping mills as elephants in this jungle’ . ‘the fume as unreliable snakes’ . and the kids as small “vessels” which must be filled. His symbolism besides becomes allegorical as he utilizes scriptural intension in showing the moral construction of the town and the people.

In add-on to dialogue. consecutive narrative. and description. Dickens employs understatement to convey through sarcasm the societal. economic. and educational jobs and to suggest solutions for these jobs. His frequently bantering statements equilibrate the horror of the scenery by the absurdness of wit. based on both character and subject. Hard Times is criticised for foregrounding the societal issues although offering nil to propose a solution to the jobs it addresses. The narrative screens a scope of issues including instruction for the hapless. category divisions. and the rights of the common people to amusement. Human relationships are contaminated by economic sciences and devils. In his expounding of the counter representation being the circus it is apparent that with such a strong deduction of the industrial community of Coketown. there is nil which is strong plenty to oppose it. In a manner. Dickens goes against his ain statement towards when stand foring the circus because he mentions that Sleary is ‘stout and alcoholic’ .

These fortunes go against his descriptions of the circus troupes ‘gentleness and puerility. It can hence be suggested that there is nil in the novel which is capable of countering the appendages of the system exemplified by Bounderby and Gradgrind. Mr Sleary’s universe is one of acrobats. tight rope Walkers. bareback riders and in fact all of the merriment of a carnival. The circus is idealised through the people in the society which is a blunt contrast to Coketown. where the people are determined by the desolation of society. It could hold been more effectual if Dickens had hence narrated a twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours representation of each society. particularly in the circus as it would hold made a more significant statement against the industrial based Utilitarianism and its extensions to political relations. In malice of the minor insufficiencies of the novel it does portray figures as singular for their degree of individualism ; nevertheless they serve the subject which is capable of prosecuting serious attending. It is non merely industry which is under inquiry in ‘Hard times’ but the doctrine which operates in the procedure. When Louisa. Gradgrind’s girl whom he has ruined through his insisting of fact garbages to fall foul to visualize when she is proposed to. she asks her male parent what to make in the state of affairs.

It is merely at this point that the system of instruction becomes questionable to Gradgrind. He tells Tom. his boy ‘your sisters preparation has been pursued harmonizing to the system. ’ Overall. in looking at the ways in which Dickens has created the kingdom of fancy versus fact in ‘Hard times’ . he does turn out that illusion is indispensable for the felicity of world and in this regard it is a morally uplifting novel. His place is as a societal observer assailing the useful rules. which exerted a profound influence on novelists who were to come subsequently. Some of his concerns with the ‘Condition of England’ were subsequently dealt with by other novels such as those by Martin Amis and Zadie Smith. It is hence non unsuccessful given that Dickens was non seeking to alter society. but his purpose was to do the societal issues known and to do people witting of them. which proved effectual by others taking on the topic and spread outing it in their ain manner. Kate Flint. writer of the new debut to Hard Times argues that the fresh defies easy classification. which is true. The novel is profoundly preoccupied with childhoods and household life although filled with insolvable tensenesss and contradictions.


Dickens. . . . 1995. Hard Times. London: Penguin Classicss.
Lodge. . . . 1969. The rhetoric of Hard Times. Edward Grey edition 20th century readings of Hard Times ed. s. l. : s. n. Wheeler. . . . 1994. English Fiction of Victorian period 1830-1890. New York: Longman publication.

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