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The purpose of this essay is to consider what role the circus folk play within the structure of Hard Times

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The purpose of this essay is to consider what role the circus folk play within the structure of Hard Times. I will be looking at ways they affect the novel and why the circus was placed into the novel in the first place. The role of the circus is both complex and simple it is in itself a contradiction; it has been placed within the novel to add another dimension to the story of Coketown but also to show how fragile human nature can be. The circus folks role are complicated in their simplicity, they are of course there to carry out the role that they are paid to perform as actors or performers as well as being there for the second more complicated role of showing the notion of fancy within the novel. It is this second role which this essay will strive to discuss and discover. There are many sides to the circus it is a multi talented organisation all of the members perform more than one job they are multi skilled workers who live and work together as a large extended family there is affection and friendship in many ways and in many form. ...read more.


Bounderby has achieved wealth and 'power' through the use of fact and the removal of his ability to fancy, Sleary has not achieved the same degree of wealth or power but he has achieved it doing what he loves with people that he cares about. The circus folk are an extended family this is shown when Sissy seeking comfort after finding that her father has deserted her seeks comfort she desires in the arms of a female friend "who knelt down on the floor to nurse her, and to weep over her" (Charles Dickens; pg 48, Hard Times,1854 ). The fact that the women to whom she seeks comfort is not her mother but still shows Sissy affection and even appears to feel some of Sissy's pain in the knowledge that she has lost her father reinforces the readers idea that the circus is one family that are tied together through their emotions and feelings-fancy. When Bounderby tells Sissy that her father has left her he tells her that he too has been abandoned and that there is no hope of her ever seeing her father again, "you mustn't expect to see him again as long as you live" (Charles Dickens: pg48, Hard Times, 1854). ...read more.


This became apparent when Tom was held at the circus and Bitzer attempted to take him back to Coketown, Sleary stands by Gradgrind as a friend and arranges to help Tom get away in return for what Gradgrind has done for Sissy since her father has left her. The role of the circus and its people throughout the novel has been to show the binary opposites of fact versus fancy of Coketown versus The Circus. The circus has through the novel shown that it stands for transformation; people become what they want it is a way of escape for many people either by watching its acts or in Tom's case a literal way of escape. The circus manages to show a second side to everybody even the people that the reader would not expect to have a second side. By introducing the concept of the circus Dickens has found a way of introducing love, affection and fancy into a fact based town. It is the reappearance of the circus at the end of the novel that finally brings the conclusion of Hard Times when fact and fancy join together and ends the tale with a positive ending. ...read more.

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