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

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

Extracts from this document...


To What Extent Is Stephen Blackpool Representative Of A Hand? Stephen represents the "Hands", and is supposed to seem typical in some respects and not in others. His dignity, patience and courtesy are all qualities that Dickens reported finding among the Preston strikers during his visit there in January 1854. He shares these qualities with the resolute Rachael, and depends on her support at critical moments, most notably when he is tempted to let his wife die, in Book I Chapter 13. In other respects, "Old Stephen" (so called, although only in his forties) is very much unusual. He is exceptionally awkward and stubborn. He irritates not only Bounderby and the trade unionists, but also many critics of the novel. Some critics think that he is stupid. There can be no doubt that asking Bounderby for help is a stupid thing to do, however this action may be explained by ...read more.


When it comes to Stephen's turn to talk however, he has no brilliant speech, he gives no reasoning for why he cannot join them, and he simply says that he can't. Many of his fellow workers seem to be quite tempted to join him, which shows Stephen's reputation and how liked he is by his colleagues. This differs from most of the other hands because, had they have told the crowd that they could not join the union; they would not have achieved this same reaction from the crowd. There are many objections to Stephen, as a "weakness" in the novel. However these mostly come from critics who would have preferred a more radical and practical figure in his place. We must not forget that Dickens audience would have been mainly the middle class and as such perhaps Dickens was eager to calm them by presenting a moderate, ineffectual and Christian workman, and by putting some of his own anti-union views into Stephen's speeches. ...read more.


Saint Stephen, from whom Stephen Blackpool's name is derived, was the first Christian martyr, killed because he was a Christian and he was ready to die for what he believed. As much of Dickens' audience would have attended church regularly, this is a biblical reference I am sure they would have picked up on, possibly giving them clues as to Stephen's fate. Critics sometimes compare Dickens's characters to caricatures. Some descriptions of Stephen might instead remind us of photographs. His shortsighted, attentive, concentrated look is captured as though in close-up, in Book I Chapter 12, and attributed to long hours of work "with eyes and hands in the midst of a prodigious noise". Later there is an image of him as though in a long-distance shot, standing before the union members: "He made a sort of reverence to them by holding up his arms, and stood for the moment in that attitude". This single image shows his dignity and vulnerability. ...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.

    a worker. His vocabulary is down to earth and can be described as god-fearing e.g. "God forbid". This might be Dickens attempt to suggest that Blackpool is an honest and religious person. In the next chapter, which is eleven, Stephen seeks an interview with Bounderby, his employer, to ask advice on the question of marriage and divorce.

  2. Y10 English Literature Coursework

    The rhythm in this sentence energizes us and it's a sudden change from Dickens droning on about Gradgrind's children and facts. It shows is how the rhyme is comforting and enlightening. Gradgrind's home is called Stone Lodge. Again Dickens uses a twist with names in this novel.

  1. 'What are the reasons which Dickens gives for the hard times described in the ...

    Bitzer is described as pale, this shows that his entire colour has been drained out of him with facts, he is starved of imagination. He is described as, 'His skin was so unwholesomely deficient in the natural tinge, that he looked as though, if he were cut, he would bleed white'.

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

    Stephen could not be described as a clever person as he is not and intelligent man he barley can make a speech but Dickens calls him a man of perfect integrity, what I want to do here is tell you the definition of integrity what integrity means is truth or

  1. Hard Times - A Practical Criticism

    The first three lines are descriptive ones, which describe the setting for which the description of the workers is to follow. This is a very distinct, technique, but one that is very Dickensian as it layers the detail until a complete picture of a vast magnitude of separate and individual

  2. The book

    This is where he uses fancy to mean imagination. This shows that Mr Gradgrind fills the children with facts and cuts out all the imagination which children thrive upon. We see this backfire on Mr Gradgrind later on in the book. We are at the stage when Mr Thomas Gradgrind's son is about to be arrested for robbing a bank and Mr Gradgrind says to Bitzer; "Bitzer ...

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