• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"In Hard Times Dickens presents a convincing analysis of the social problems that have arisen in 19th Century industrial society" - To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Extracts from this document...


"In Hard Times Dickens presents a convincing analysis of the social problems that have arisen in 19th Century industrial society." To what extent do you agree with this statement? Dickens was clearly strongly influenced by many contemporary issues when writing Hard Times, as such, the book has strong political themes which are analysed in detail. We can see in Hard Times that Stephen Blackpool is intended to represent the honest hard-working, working class person. He has no aspirations to be what he is not and is not out to cause trouble. All he wants is to lead an ordinary fair life which however, he knows is almost impossible. Dickens presents many of the social problems covered in the novel through Stephen Blackpool. His problems with the divorce laws for example highlight the unfairness of the laws at the time. One could only divorce if you had the money to do so. Therefore it was the preserve of the middle and upper classes. " 'and it would cost you...I suppose from a thousand to fifteen hundred pound,' said Mr Bounderby... 'Why then, sir,' said Stephen... 'tis a muddle.'" This idea of presenting the lower classes as decent people ay have contradicted middle class beliefs of the time. Dickens seems to be attempting to dispel the myth which Bounderby perpetuates that they all crave rewards without work; and are lazy idle and selfish. ...read more.


This description not only degrades Slackbridge, but compliments the working class union members. As is shown with Stephen, Dickens clearly wants to promote this idea of the lower classes being simple but honest. The majority of these lower class people in Coketown live in squalor. The descriptions of Coketown itself are bleak and depressing. Dickens was influenced in his descriptions by experience of factory towns and is commenting on the unsanitary conditions in which many people live within these towns. "It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it." There are descriptions in the novel clearly meant to highlight this issue, such as bodies being carried down ladders. The mention of the unattended churches in Coketown is in reference to fading religious beliefs at the time. Also, the descriptions of Coketown demonstrate Dickens hatred of the mechanical anonymity that developed in industrial cities. The people lose their identity and become machines, whilst everything around them works monotonously without imagination. "It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours." The major theme of the book, the idea of fact versus imagination is obviously related to social issues at the time. ...read more.


Gradgrind's method is inherently hypocritical. It claims to breed scientists and concentrates only on the factual subjects such as science and maths, but without imagination there would be no scientific progression. Most theories are a result of deep scientific insight coupled with active imagination. If current ideas were not questioned and all science was accepted at face value as fact, science would come to a halt. Most science is also theoretical and therefore not factual by its very nature. Dickens objections to some areas of utilitarianism however are unfounded. His disgust at the use of statistics to assess the needs of the population is extreme and he offers no viable alternative to their use. It would be impossible to, as he suggests, understand every individual on a personal level in order to judge the needs of society. "As if an astronomical observatory should be made without any windows, and the astronomer should arrange the starry universe solely by pen, ink and paper, so Mr Gradgrind, in his observatory, had no need to cast an eye on the teeming myriads of human beings around him..." Dickens does present a very interesting analysis of many issues that were present at the time. Much material is covered relating to many aspects of Victorian society. However, Hard Times is by no means a historical account and Dickens obviously presents these problems from his own point of view. As such one must understand, that while useful, much of the material is biased. Rowan Boyles 12R1 AS English 2002 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Hard Times section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Hard Times essays

  1. Character Study of Stephen Blackpool From the Novel Hard Times.

    This highlights Blackpool's inability to analyze and make true judgements about people and, what they say causes him to fall in Tom's trap and many other disasters.

  2. Hard Times(TM) is a social satire which explores the ills of an Industrial Victorian ...

    Here he would have gained views on people like Bounderby and Thomas Gradgrind. Having had and insight into a high and low class Victorian society Dickens saw the immorality and ignorance of the Industrial revolution and the higher classes. He expressed this throughout his novels, and after releasing 'Hard Times',

  1. In what ways does Dickens use satire as a means of illustrating social problems ...

    . Facts alone are wanted in life." are the first lines of the book as said by Mr Gradgrind (the owner of this so called model school) whose philosophy is a typically utilitarian. He was "A man of realities.

  2. Hard Times - explore several issues from Dickenss point of view on Victorian Society, ...

    image, there wasn't really serpents in the sky but he used those words to make it seem as though there was. And when he uses the phrase, "mad elephants, polished and oiled up for the days monotony, were at their heavy exercises again" he basically is wanting to compare the

  1. To What Extent Is Stephen Blackpool Representative Of A Hand? in Dickens' "Hard Times?"

    he manages to work the crowd up and almost turn them from a group of workers to a mob.

  2. Hard Times - Would you agree, from your reading of the novel so far ...

    Sissy grew up with the circus people, who could be described as characters who do not seem entirely convincing. They are somewhat idealised; it is difficult to believe that a group of people who work in a circus, and were, in Victorian times, considered outside the bounds of ordinary society,

  1. Hard times shows women as powerless and trapped with in a patriarchate society. How ...

    is to Natural and she stand her ground to Mr Gradgrind "Sissy not Cecile" she does this to show he can't do the same to her as he has done to the other girls. Sissy pays no interest to Gradgrind with the comments he makes, and he tries to make a mockery of Sissy: "Unable to define a horse!"

  2. Hard Times: Stephen Blackpool has been described by Dickens as "A man of great ...

    that gets rid of his wife Stephen finds that there is a law but it is beyond his grasp as it requires a lot of money which Stephen does not have, this decision was a true showing of his Integrity as it was the truth it was he wants to

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work