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English essay about Hard Times by Charles Dickens. How does Dickens allow his natural tendency towards sentimentality to encroach on his essentially realistic portrait of Cocketown and its inhabitants?


[...] To add that, Dickens appears as a moralist. The morality of his story is that industrialization threatens human beings as it transforms them into machines and suppresses their emotions and that it creates a social disorder that jeopardizes employers’ and workers’ social integrity. At the end of the novel, Dickens addresses us and gives us a lesson: “Dear reader! It rests with you and me, whether, in our two fields of action, similar things shall be or not. Let them be! [...]

[...] Dickens also uses other devices to make his novel more trustful. He adapted his language to his characters and did not hesitate to use dialects. For example, Blackpool talks with a very popular accent, uses an informal english, and to make it sound real, Dickens wrote down the literal pronunciation: thought thou wast ahind me, Rachael?” (p.67). The author wanted to keep the authenticity of the character; this is how lower class people used to talk. Another character that has got a particular way of talking is Mr Sleary. [...]

[...] That is why he connected his character with his sensibility. Dickens, as his feminine characters, is a sentimentalist. Therefore, what Dickens shows in this novel is that he wants to go beyond reality, to make us understand that imagination has nothing to do with facts but with everyone’s sensibility, everyone’s perception of life and aesthetics. He clearly opposes facts to fancy all along the novel. Facts are criticized first through the educational system. For Dickens, the school teaches nothing but facts. [...]

[...] Dickens criticizes this social pressure. In fact, for him, love, passion, are natural and instinctive feelings that cannot be suppressed of life. But Gradgrind and Bounderby, who keep reminding them their inferior position, challenge these women’s sensitivity every day. They live in a world of frustration. Concerning Sissy, Gradgrind tried to educate her under his theory that is to say under hard facts, to get rid of this imagination that threatens Gradgrind’s principles. But Sissy is resistant to education. Sissy is also the character that is going to help Louisa to exploit her sensitive sides. [...]

[...] But for Dickens, it does not matter. What is important is to contrast both sides in order to make the reader feel sympathy for the humble poor. Poverty, in this novel is romanticized. In fact, the poor, contrary to one could think, are those who have real values, are honest, who make like beautiful, and even if they are not educated, and we could even say because they are not educated, they care about people, they are able to feel love, they are able to use their imagination, to make the most of life through fancy. [...]

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