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The Negative Effects of Industrialism in Hard Times - Assignment Example

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Miles B. Ehrenkranz, M.P.A. Literature 355 Dr. Kirschstein November 27, 2011 The Negative Effects of Industrialism in Hard Times In Hard Times, Charles Dickens characterizes the factories as “fairy palaces,” an ironic metaphor because the Victorian factories were dangerous and dull places to work…
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Download file to see previous pages The setting of the story conveys the serious tone with which Dickens approaches his belief that Industrialism takes more from society than it benefits in return. In the opening of the novel, Dickens describes the morning scene of the factory using hectic sound and visual imagery: The Fairy palaces burst into illumination, before pale morning showed the monstrous serpents of smoke trailing themselves over Coketown. A clattering of clogs upon the pavement; a rapid ringing of bells; and all the melancholy mad elephants, polished and oiled up for the day's monotony, were at their heavy exercise again (56). Ringing bells, clattering shoes, and a heavy blanket of smoke set the scene. In addition, the labor is described as monotonous and heavy. Through this passage, the life of a factory worker is viewed as boring, loud, and difficult. Dickens further describes the industrial landscape of the setting of the novel in Book 1, Chapter 5: “It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled” (20). ...
The strike in the novel mirrors the real-life strike that occurred in 1853 in the town of Preston. The Preston strike was a test case of the power of the trade unions. Kaplan states that the strike ended in defeat after eight months (287). Butterworth discusses how Dickens traveled to Preston for 48 hours in order to speak with the workers and understand what was happening with the strike (312). Dickens wrote his article “On Strike” based on these experiences. In his article “On Strike,” Dickens states that the Preston strike was a waste of time, waste of people’s energy, waste of wages, and a “great national affliction” (295). Robert Barnard’s critique of Hard Times, “Imagery and Theme in Hard Times” explains Dickens’ view: “At this period Dickens adopted the pusillanimous view that workers had a right to strike but were unwise to use that right” (387). Dickens’ feelings towards the Preston strike are mirrored in Hard Times. Slackbridge, along with the other factory workers in the novel, stage a strike and are meant to be unlikeable characters. Dickens creates these characters to be unlikeable on purpose in order to demonstrate his negative opinions towards strikes. While Dickens understands that the conditions of the factories are dangerous, he does not see a strike as a viable and ethical option. In his article “Dickens the Novelist: The Preston Strike and Hard Times,” R.D. Butterworth explains the importance of understanding England during the Victorian Age in order to fully grasp the social criticism Dickens commences: “It was in the context of a society that Dickens came to write about the industrial world and to portray an England splitting into contentious factions willing to use their ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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