Charles Dickens

life and works :

He had an unhappy childhood since his father went to prison and he had to work in a factory; this fact was the inspiration for most of his novels. Initially he published his novels in instalments in journal and he talked about people who lived in London. Than he wrote other novels about the condition of the children in factories, being inspired by his own experience, and this novels are set against the background of social issues, highlighting the conditions of the poor and working class.

Novels of Dickens:

  • Oliver twist
  • David Copperfield
  • Little Dorrit
  • Bleak House
  • Hard Times
  • Great expectations

The plots of Dickens’ novels:

  • Influenced by: bible, fairy tales, fables and nursery rhymes, 18th century novelist and essayists, gothic novels.
  • Well-planned but a bit artificial, sentimental and episodic.
  • Publication in instalmentsà discouraged unified plotting.
  • Setting: Londonà described in realistic details.
  • First: middle class characters often satire, than he developed a more radical view of society.
  • Critic about societyà spiritual and material corruption caused by industrialism.
  • Drawing about public abusesà on one side he describes London with her terrible expect, on the other side he writes amusing sketches of the town.

Characters:

  • create caricatures
  • his female characters were weak, black and white.
  • He was always on the side of the poor and the outcast.
  • He substitutes the middle-class with the lower orders.

A didactic aim:

Children are the most important characters in Dickens’ novels, he made children the example to follow, the moral teacher, he reversed the natural order of things. The children became the model of the behavior that people ought to have one to another. Dickens’ task was never to induce revolution but to get the common intelligence of the country, in all its difference classes alike, to alleviate undeniable suffering. He succeed in his task because most of the richer part of the country starts to know the conditions of poorer neighbors.

 

HARD TIMES

 

Plot:

Is set in a fantastic industrial town named Coketown. Thomas Gradgrind, a material man, has a school and brings up his 2 children repressing their imagination and feelings. Thomas gives her daughter in wife to Josiah Bounderby, the owner of a bank, and she consented the marriage because she wishes to hel her brother, who is given a job to this bank; but he is selfish and lazy so he robbed in this bank, initially he succeeds in throwing the suspicion on a honest man, but finally he is discovered and he had to leave the country.

 

Structure:

  1. First book “Sowing”: shows us the result of a material education.
  2. Second book “Reaping”: shows the results of this education like the unhappiness of the doughter and the selfishness of the son.
  3. The third book “Garnering”: gives the details.

A critique of materialism:

Hard times focuses on the difference between poor and rich, factory owners and workers, who were forced to work long hours for low pay, in terrible conditions, and they can’t do anything to improve their condition because of their skills and culture. Dickens uses his stories to denounce this fact and to criticize the materialism and the narrow-mindedness of utilitarianism, he thought that the Victorian age was turning human being into machines, and that without feelings , imaginations, compassion life would be unbearable.

Coketown:

This town is compared with a jungle: the red brick are not so red, they are also black because of the smog and they are compared to a face of a savage, that is black and red. The smoke that come out from the chimneys is compared to interminable serpents. A work-machine is compared to the head of a mad elephant, that goes up and down monotonously. The streets and the person are all the same and this town is a triumph of fact, also the church that is the primary symbol of the spiritual things is compared to a warehouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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