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Using theories of Marx and, more broadly, utilitariansim, examine the ways in which Dickens and Dostoevsky creatively explore the impact of industrialisation on humanity and education.

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Introduction

Using theories of Marx and, more broadly, utilitariansim, examine the ways in which Dickens and Dostoevsky creatively explore the impact of industrialisation on humanity and education. Dickens and Dostoevsky both critique the social effects of industrialisation and utilitarianism, though each has a different approach and a slightly different focus. Dickens employs parody, satire and caricature to ridicule the effects of the new political economy while Dostoevsky examines the consequences of rational morality taken to extremes. Dickens uses residents of a regional manufacturing town1 to illustrate the social consequences of industrialisation, and particularly the influence on education, while Dostoevsky focuses on the experiences of an urban individual to demonstrate the psychological and social consequences of utilitarianism. In Hard Times, Dickens' main characters represent different social groups and illustrate industrialisation's effect on society. For example, Gadgrind represents educators and politicians who advocate the principles of reason and utility but discount emotion, affection, imagination and aesthetics. He is a "man of realities. A man of... calculations". One who promotes fact over fancy until faced with the personal consequences of such a philosophy. Bounderby typifies wealthy factory owners and the beneficiaries of capitalism. He is a proud of his status as a self-made man, until the story of his success is exposed as a fiction designed to conceal his working class background. ...read more.

Middle

Dostoevsky twists the tenets of utilitarianism into a Gordian knot that denies each character access to their desired goal of self-determination. The various strands of pleasure and pain, transgression and penalty, endeavour and reward, action and consequence, rationality and the greater good form a tangled web which traps the subject at its centre. For the individual, utilitarianism is self-defeating and destructive. For Luzhin, relying on utility ruins his reputation, his engagement and his business strategy. For Svidrigailov, utilitarianism leads inevitably to nihilism, where good and evil are equivalent and murder or generosity are morally neutral. The rational consequent to such a meaningless life is suicide9. As for Rodya, when he confesses his crime to Sonya, she cries, "What have you done - what have you done to yourself?" And his response is just as clear, "Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her!" According to utilitarian ideals, punishment (pain) is the rational way to prevent further crime. Punishment reforms criminals or protects society from them or deters potential criminals through threat of penalty10. Dostoevsky, however, suggests that legislation and punishment are not the answer to anti-social behaviour. Rather, where reason and utility fail, a change of heart and a moral code succeed. ...read more.

Conclusion

8 For example, Razumikhin acknowledges his continued assistance of Rodya is influenced by his growing attraction to Dunya - yet his self-interest is rewarded and ultimately benefits a number of others. 9 Dostoevsky surrounds Rodya with comparable and contrasting others who mirror his own repressed inner self. The lives of those around him serve to reflect and illustrate his own inner dialogue. In particular, the polar opposites of Sonya (caring, compassionate, spiritual) and Svidrigailov (aggressive, detached, nihilistic) mirror the duality of Rodya's personality. Interesting that when Rodya meets Svidrigailov, he descends into the depths of a dark tavern, but he visits Sonya, he ascends to a spacious room with high ceilings. Interesting too, that Rodya's decision to confess is influenced as much by Svidrigailov's death as it is by Sonya's entreaties - the death of utility allows morality to prevail. 10 Interesting to note that English philosopher and Utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham, was also responsible for the concept of the Panopticon penitentiary. 11 Both events: occur a few weeks after the crucifixion/resurrection (Easter), follow a short period of introspection/guilt and an unexplained absence of the advocate, are located on the shore of a body of water at early morning, include a sudden appearance of the "saviour", and a tearful conversion. After his encounter with Sonya, Rodya "had risen again and he knew it" (p492). ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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