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In Bounderby Dickens portrays the New Gentleman of Victorian Society that was mercenary, self-serving and proud.

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Introduction

IN BOUNDERBY DICKENS PORTRAYS THE NEW GENTLEMAN OF VICTORIAN SOCIETY THAT WAS MERCENARY, SELF-SERVING AND PROUD A 19th century university once described a Victorian Gentleman as - "a person of nature and one who never inflicts pain". Dickens uses Bounderby in the novel "Hard Times" to make a mockery of the "Victorian Gentleman". Bounderby is seen as a Victorian gentleman, but it does not take too much analysis to appreciate that Bounderby is a fraud. Bounderby is a very proud man. He tells the story or his own raising from the gutter many times throughout the novel, this is a short extract from a conversation that he had with Mrs Sparsit in Book 1 Chapter 3 - "I passed the day in a ditch, and the night in a pigsty. That's the way I spent my twelfth birthday. Not that a ditch was new for me, as I was born in one." "I was so ragged and dirty, that you wouldn't have touched me with a pair of tongs." It is relevant that this is the first time we meet Bounderby he is telling of his hardships as a juvenile as first impressions are important. Dickens obviously wanted to give us the impression that Bounderby was inconsiderate and self-praising. This may have been Dickens way of suggesting that the social hierarchy in Victorian times was unreasonable. ...read more.

Middle

and for how he turned out, in other words, his wealth. Darren Cave Page 1 5/2/2007 Although as it turns out, Bounderby was not actually raised by himself from the gutter, his parents were poor but did love him. This should mean that he has sympathy for others who are like he was in his childhood. Instead, he believes that everyman should work himself to the top, starting from the bottom, supposedly like him. This is shown in his treatment of Stephen Blackpool. Stephen comes to discuss how he could go about getting a divorce from his wife. Stephen works for Bounderby and has had a very troubled marriage as his wife is a drunken and robs him. When Stephen questions Bounderby about a divorce, Bounderby asks him if he wishes to be fed on "turtle soup and venison with a gold spoon" as he has "unreasonable aspirations for a worker". This amplifies the lack of sympathy and respect that Bounderby has for his workers. That comment is very sarcastic and Bounderby finds it funny. This says a lot about his character. Not only is the unsympathetic to a man with real problems, but he makes a joke of him to go with it. It seems as if Bounderby is actually shocked that a worker would ask a question like that to him because in Bounderby's opinion the answer is so clear cut. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that Bounderby took advantage of Louisa's innocence shows how he is selfish, as he has no respect for Louisa's feelings. Bounderby is "flat", almost like a cartoon. He has great effect on others in the book, such as Louisa and Stephen Blackpool. His effect is real and powerful, but he does not render into a character at all throughout the novel, unlike his good friend - Mr Gradgrind. Darren Cave Page 2 5/2/2007 Our opinions of Mr Gradgrind and Mr Bounderby are both negative throughout the duration of the novel. However, we feel sympathy for Gradgrind as he realises he has wasted his life on facts, and makes an effort to change near the end of his life. The fact that Bounderby does not render in to character forbids us from feeling sympathetic towards him. He does not realise how he has influenced others so negatively with his behaviour. For example, his mother, as she accepted cash from him to keep her away. His biggest flaw is the fact that he does not even realise his own damage. Dickens uses Bounderby to imply that "the New Gentleman of Victorian Society" uses his wealth and power irresponsibly, contributing to the muddle relations between the rich and poor, especially in his treatment of Stephen Blackpool. This was not only the case in the novel, but Dickens use of Bounderby also shows that relationsions in Victorian society between the rich and poor were unsympathetic. Darren Cave Page 3 5/2/2007 ...read more.

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