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'What are the reasons which Dickens gives for the hard times described in the novel?'

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Introduction

'What are the reasons which Dickens gives for the hard times described in the novel?' Many characters in the novel are victims of hard times as a result of many factors. These include the lack of money, the education system, the industrialisation in the area and the social injustices of the Victorian era. The novel is divided into three books: sowing, reaping and garnering. The names of these books have biblical references. 'Ae ye sow, so shall ye reap' New Testament This means that there are consequences to all your actions, this idea features strongly in the novel. In the first book 'sowing', the actions of the characters were described for example the pragmatic education system. In the second book 'reaping', the consequences of these actions are described, and in the third book 'garnering', the consequences are explored more, along with the final outcome of these events. In the novel, Mr Gradgrind causes and suffers from hard times. He is a very rigid character in addition to being 'a man of fact and calculations'. He causes hard times for others, including his family, with his pragmatic education system. We discover his attitudes to schooling from the very first chapter when he says: 'In this life, we want nothing but facts, sir; nothing but Facts' This concept is based upon utilitarianism. This is the idea that nothing except useful and practical things are wanted in life, and this causes many of Dickens' characters hard times. They thought these concepts would provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people but it only benefited the rich, the poor sill suffered. He tries to inflict this system onto Sissy but he ends up learning a lesson from her. Towards the end of the novel he realises that he has not given his children what they needed to appreciate the full spectrum of life. Almost as soon as they could run alone, they had been made to run to the lecture-room'. ...read more.

Middle

He tells Stephen to wait outside the bank for about an hour and Bitzer may come and tell Stephen of a good opportunity for him. So, Stephen stands outside at the allotted time, little does he know he is just there to disguise Tom's bank robbery. He also abuses Louisa because of her sex, her vulnerability and her wealth. He also takes advantage of her love for him. Later on in the novel Tom encourages Louisa to marry Bounderby, even though he knows how unhappy it would make her and knows how much she dislikes him. For example early in the novel Mr Bounderby gives Louisa a kiss on the cheek, she then says, 'You may cut the piece out with a penknife Tom. I wouldn't cry'. He only cares for himself, not anyone else. This was obviously a common effect from the education system as this is also seen in Bitzer throughout the novel. Mr Bounderby is makes out he is a victim of hard times in the novel, but the main source of his suffering is himself. He pretends that he has had a hard youth to gain respect and make his success more outstanding. Mrs Sparsit constantly interferes in his life; this eventually causes his marriage to fall apart. He married Louisa out of duty not out of love. They couldn't have a loving relationship because that would be showing emotion, and that is not fact. She is just one of his possessions and is just there to cover Mrs Sparsit's role. Although as a reader you would think he would be more understanding of the lower class residents of Coketown as he has supposedly been in that position himself. He may have convinced himself about his hard background as he repeats it many times throughout the novel. He says things like, 'I was so ragged and dirty, that you wouldn't have touched me with a pair of tongs', throughout the novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

'... where the piston of the steam-engine worked monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness'. This is shown again later in another description: 'The fairy palaces burst into illumination, before pale morning showed monstrous serpents of smoke trailing themselves over Coketown'. Dickens himself also experienced many hard times. His father became bankrupt when Charles was little so he had to earn a living from an early age. Another result of this was that he was always moving around. To start off with he worked in a bottle blacking factory, but later he became interested in freelance journalism and his first jobs were taking notes in court. This meant that he had a good experience of life, the criminal world and law. He also experienced social injustices such as those of Stephen Blackpool. In later life he was aware of social injustices in the world around him and he often put these into his books. He wrote his books in instalments which explains some of the cliff-hanger endings of the chapters. He goes on to become a very famous author who was very critical of lives, industrialisation and money; all of these are explored in hard times. Finally, Dickens' experiences as a child came out in a convincing portrayal of what was wrong with the Victorian society. He was a critic to his time and from his novels we can learn a great deal about the Victorian era. Many of the characters in the novel experience hard times as a result of many factors. Stephen Blackpool is the innocent victim in the novel; he suffers greatly through no fault of his own. He is kind and trustworthy yet he is abused. Other characters such as Mrs Sparsit and Bitzer enjoy causing hard times for others. Some suffer more than others; but Dickens uses his characters to explore the hard times of the era. In conclusion, many of Dickens' characters suffer as a result of numerous causes. (4,021 words) ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Capaldi 1 ...read more.

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