Hard Times: A Subtext of English Society

Eva Sharma

Abstract


Charles Dickens provides a substantial analysis of the various social problems that were prevalent in the 19th century industrial society of England in his novel, Hard Times. Many social issues while composing the novel influenced Dickens. A reader can notice Hard Times in Stephen Blackpool’s character that represents the honest hard working, proletariat class. He has no desire to be what he is not and does not cause or get troubled. All he wishes for is an ordinary and austere life; which he knows is difficult to achieve. Dickens, through Stephen Blackpool brings to light many of the problems rampant in the society.

The novel focuses on the mentality of the Bourgeoisie; the upper or ruling class of the English society. They are in a position to rule due to their control over the base and economic means of production. It is because of their control over the base they consciously or unconsciously exercises their ideology on the proletariat, or working class. Hard Times is a class-conscious novel with an attack on Utilitarianism. Mr. Gradgrind, the novel’s patriarchal figure, orders his children that they “are to be in all things regulated and governed” (6) by ‘facts’ and ‘reason’, but the narrator of the novel describes this process of raising children as the “manufacture of the human fabric” (87) where he is associating children with material. The study will investigate the social problems which are giving people hard times in Hard Times.


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