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In what ways does Dickens use satire as a means of illustrating social problems in "Hard Times"

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Introduction

In what ways does Dickens use satire as a means of illustrating social problems in "Hard Times" Satire, in the dictionary, is described as a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. This is exactly what Charles Dickens work is all about. "Hard Times" puts societal problems of the day on trial. In this work, the problems Dickens focuses on are those of the poverty-ridden, dehumanizing factory towns that sprung up in England during the Industrial Revolution. In the world depicted in the novel, workers are treated as little more than interchangeable parts in the factory's machinery, given just enough wages to keep them alive and just enough rest to make it possible for them to stand in front of their machines the next day. I will be looking mainly at utilitarianism as well as how Dickens uses certain characters to criticise people who belonged to particular groups. The town in "Hard Times" is called Coketown, taking its name from the Coke, or treated coal, powering the factories and blackening the town's skies. "It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage." ...read more.

Middle

James Harthouse, a characteristic member of the upper-class, comes to Coketown to search for something else to bide his time with. Dickens models him as a lazy person who gets bored very easily; he seems to have been all over the world and surprisingly he doesn't treat those as experiences of a lifetime. Here is an example of some of the extravagant escapades that Harthouse embarks on, yet still finds life tedious; Dickens satirises the upper class using Harthouse by saying "Now, this gentleman had a younger brother of still better appearance than himself, who had tried life as a Coronet of Dragoons, and found it a bore; and had afterwards tried it in the train of an English minister abroad, and found it a bore; and had then strolled to Jerusalem, and got bored there; and had then gone yachting about the world, and got bored everywhere." This shows us that Harthouse has money but he can't use it to kill boredom. It is these types of exploits that show us his lax, upper-class attitude toward life and how easy it is for someone in this position to become bored when eight or ten hours of work are not necessary to sustain oneself. Although most of us cannot directly relate to his problems, we can see how our occupations "occupy" our time and a lack thereof would bring out similar human characteristics. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her father convinces Louisa to marry Bounderby not because his argument, which consisted of marriage statistics from England, was good, but because Louisa couldn't explain otherwise. Louisa is evidently a victim of her father's cruel utilitarian system; dickens uses Louisa to criticize the movement. Stephen Blackpool is made to be the martyr of the lower-class. We can relate the most to Stephen as a character because he holds the most admirable human qualities. Dickens uses him as a counterbalance to the negative effect caused to the society by the other characters, Dickens also uses Rachel and Sissy to assist Stephen, in conveying his message. Stephen is married to a drunkard wife whom he wants to divorce, to marry another factory worker called Rachel. Unfortunately Stephen can't afford to divorce her. Dickens uses a range of characters to try and tell the reader that if things continue the way they are continuing with every man to himself, the nation will go to the dogs. The mill owners mistreating workers, the workers revolting against the owners, trade unionists taking advantages of the situation and the aristocracy not making any sort of contributions to the society. Dickens wanted to give the message that; if things continue like this then we will surely come across "Hard times". ?? ?? ?? ?? Pratik Adusumilli Bradford Grammar School 4DRo ...read more.

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