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Hard Times - Would you agree, from your reading of the novel so far thatthere are some characters who are simply too good to be true?

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Would you Agree, From your Reading of the Novel So Far that There are Some Characters Who are Simply Too Good to be True? There are a huge variety of characters in Hard Times, ranging from the good to the unnaturally cruel. The novel is full of extremity in its characterisation; cruel, bitter and selfish characters such as Mrs. Sparsit contrast dramatically with characters such as Stephen Blackpool and Rachael, who are benevolent and altruistic. Among the cruellest and most villainous characters in the novel is James Harthouse, who is completely ammoral, and therefore rendered very dangerous by Dickens. Josiah Bounderby, is another particularly cruel character. He is utterly self-centred and prejudiced against the working-class of the novel (he categorizes them all as being greedy and materialistic: "You [Stephen] don't expect to be set up in a coach and six, and to be fed on turtle soup and venison, with a gold spoon as a good many of 'em do!") Bounderby is almost a caricature and is satirised by Dickens for his constant emphasizing of his climb to success, after supposedly beginning his life in a ditch. ...read more.


In a way, Stephen's kindness is partly to blame for his unhappiness. It could be argued that he hasn't fought hard enough for the things he wants; for example, he is not actually a member of the worker's union. Stephen has a tendency to seem meek and quite passive. He seems gentle but is often depicted with too much sentimentality. It is almost frustrating the way that Stephen simply accepts that he cannot be with Rachael, and must remain in a loveless marriage, when it is clear that he is unhappy (though of course, moral conventions differed in Victorian times, meaning people had a different view of marriage and its connotations). Stephen's unhappiness is reflected in his sometimes confused tone; "'Tis a muddle, and that's aw", and his angst often manifests itself physically in his strange mannerisms; "..he was biting the long ends of his loose neckerchief as he walked along". His confusion is also obvious in the sequence describing his strange dream, in which Coketown is a representation of hell. ...read more.


It is sadly ironic in the way that the two people who are truly in love are prevented from being together by the rules of the social system, while Louisa, who is clearly reluctant, has been forced into a marriage by the expectations of the same society. Some characters in the novel are often sentimentalized and therefore sometimes do not seem believable. However, the novel is ultimately a satirical one, which is meant to make a point, and it is perhaps therefore more fitting that the 'good' characters are slightly exaggerated, in order to emphasize the dishonourable characteristics of people such as Harthouse. They are a kind of rebellion against the monotony of the utilitarian system, and Dickens uses them as an example. He uses Stephen in particular to promote character and integrity over learning. The good characters are not necessarily meant to be a naturalistic rendition of human personalities, but are instead use to provide the novel with interest in the form of contrasting attitudes and beliefs. ...read more.

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