Hard Times as a Moral Fable Essay

August 19, 2017 Philosophy

The originative portion is the faery narrative which frequently involves animate beings instead than worlds. It speaks to our Black Marias as it entertains us ; the stoping is the logical. moral decision that satisfies our logical encephalons and seems “right” . The job with all moral fabrications is that there are frequently 2 sides to the same narrative … things are seldom so black and white in world … so there could be more than one stoping … e. g. here are times when velocity is necessary over steadiness – of class. there besides has to be good opinion.

Although it is non appropriate to depict a work of art. which Hard Times doubtless is. as a moral fabrication or a morality drama. yet the fact remains that there is a strong moral purpose behind this novel. Hard Times is a satirical onslaught on some of the immoralities and frailties of Victorian society. Satire has ever disciplinary intent and is hence fundamentally moral in its attack to the topics it deals with.

Apart from that. there are transitions of direct moralising in this novel. Hard Times is a fresh which from the minute of its publication aroused really different sentiments in the reading populace. Dickens’s grounds for composing Hard Times were largely pecuniary. Gross saless of his hebdomadal periodical. Family Wordss. were low. and he hoped the inclusion of this novel in episodes would increase gross revenues. Since publication it has received a assorted response from a diverse scope of critics. such as F. R. Leavis. George Bernard Shaw. and Thomas Macaulay. chiefly concentrating on Dickens’s intervention of trade brotherhoods and his post-Industrial Revolution pessimism sing the divide between Capitalist factory proprietors and undervalued workers during the Victorian epoch The novel was written as a hebdomadal consecutive narrative to run through five months of his magazine. Household Words. during 1854. Gross saless were extremely antiphonal and promoting for Dickens who remarked that he was “Three parts mad. and the 4th hallucinating. with ageless rushing at Hard Times” .

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Devils had to coerce his narrative to suit the exigencies of a Procrustean bed and. in making so. sacrificed the copiousness of life feature of his mastermind. That. at any rate. was the general position of Hard Times until in 1948 F. R. Leavis. in his book The Great Tradition. suggested that it was a ‘moral fable. ’ the trademark of a moral fable being that ‘the purpose is peculiarly insistent. so that the representative significance of everything in the fable – character. episode. and so on – is instantly evident as we read. By seeing it as a moral fable. Dr. Leavis produced a superb rereading of Hard Times that has changed about every critic’s attack to the novel. Yet a trouble still remains: the nature of the mark of Dickens’ sarcasm. Both Gradgrind and Bounderby are symbolic. to the point of imitation. of representative early-nineteenth-century attitudes.

Dickens tells us that Gradgrind has ‘an straightening. useful. prosaic face’ ; and the novel has been taken as an onslaught on the philosophical philosophy known as utilitarianism. the philosophy that the greatest felicity of the greatest figure should be the steering rule of behavior But utilitarianism can besides intend the philosophy that public-service corporation must be the criterion of what is good for adult male. Possibly the two significances come together in the celebrated Victorian phrase. ‘enlightened self-interest. ’ the significance of which will turn wholly upon the definition of ‘enlightened.

Utilitarianism in the philosophical sense. as taught by the exalted John Stuart Mill. has had a profound and staying influence on Western life and idea. and Dickens was surely non competent to knock it as a philosophical system. But if he was no philosopher. nor even a trained head. he was something as valuable: ‘an amazing pathologist of life. ’ as D. H. Lawrence has been called. ‘His sensitive olfactory organ could smell decease a stat mi off. ‘ And it is exactly those elements of nineteenth-century economic thought that denied life which he is assailing in Hard Times.

He is. in other words. go oning his onslaught on what may be called the statistical construct of adult male. on human dealingss evaluated in footings of arithmetic. on what Thomas Carlyle called the ‘cash nexus’ that he had launched at the beginning of his calling in Oliver Twist. There he had traced its effects in official attitudes towards poorness and in the working of the New Poor Law In order to give a concrete form to his moral intent. dickens in this fresh uses the characters here as symbols.

About every character in this novel is an incarnation of a certain thought or construct or rule. good or bad. In fact. there are two groups of symbolic characters: one group typifying certain obnoxious characteristics of Victorian life. and the other group typifying certain moral qualities. of which we heartily O.K. . These two groups of characters. typifying opposite rule. are confronted with each other and it is this confrontation that constitutes the focal point of involvement in the novel.

The characters here are hence like the ‘dramatis personae’ in a morality drama ; there is an allegorical purpose behind the character-portrayal. However. this novel is different from a moral fable or morality drama in one contact regard. While the characters in amoral fable or a morality drama are purely incarnations of certain qualities. good or bad ; in this novel the characters. in add-on to their map as symbols of certain good or bad qualities. are besides persons in their ain right.

Each character here is made to populate as a separate person. aggressively distinguished from the other ; yet their symbolic functions can non be questioned. Coketown itself is treated as a symbol in the novel. This industrial town represents the industrial ugliness. industrial unfeelingness. the mechanical and humdrum life which the workingmans or the “hands” are compelled to take under a system governed by utilitarianism and laissez faire. All the transitions which describe this town or its people are written in an ironical vena and have an obvious moral intent.

In the chief. nevertheless. the best authorship in Hard Times is a consequence of this tour-guide outlook. as his admiration. horror and awe lead to graphic evocations of the landscape. Many critics have made the nexus between Coketown and a sort of Dantesque Inferno. and his vision of industrial society is “full of horror. but possessing besides a eldritch beauty” . The key to the eldritch beauty latent in the horror are the ‘melancholy huffy elephants’ of machinery – Dickens was as fascinated by industry as he was repulsed by it.

The industrial artifacts of Coketown are endowed with all the life drained from its dwellers. the dehumanized ‘hands’ . Like Marx. Dickens could see an “inverted universe characterised by the personification of things” and as a consequence the inanimate objects of Coketown abound with verve. while the people within it are cogs in a machine. “people every bit like one another. who all went in and out at the same hours. with the same sound upon the same pavings. to make the same work. and to whom everyday was the same as yesterday and tomorrow. and every twelvemonth the opposite number of the last and the next” .

Treating the mill as a living thing leads to mental links being forged between the of all time gyrating “interminable snakes of smoke” and the smoke screens that people use to conceal themselves from the universe. or so the universe from them. most notably Gradgrinds inability to see past his system. and Bounderby’s deliberate concealment of his yesteryear.

There are besides links made between the fire in the “fairy palaces” and the fire of human passion. and competently it is the mechanical Louisa who notices this. most likely fascinated at how a inanimate thing has more life than she does – “There seems to be nil but languid and humdrum fume. Yet when the dark comes. Fire bursts out. male parent! ” [ I. xv ] . Not merely is this reversal of decease and life hellish. but these descriptions of living dead workers in a life mill are written in a prophetic manner which about invites one to put an ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here! mark on the mill Gatess.

All of the images of fume. ashes. and fire “suggest that decease is ever-present in the snake pit of Coketown” . as does the mention to the black ladder so frequently in usage in the on the job category quarters [ I. x ] . Michael Wheeler points to the significance of Biblical imagination in the text. saying that the New Testament is the “yardstick by its modern supplanters are measured and found wanting” . and that this is the ultimate disapprobation that Dickens can heap upon it.

However. I can non assist but experience that transitions proclaiming that “all those elusive kernels of humanity which will evade the extreme craft of algebra until the last cornet of all time to be sounded will blow even algebra to wreck” . while proposing that Gradgrindery and the engagement forces of industry are to be judged and condemned. they besides make it clear that they will be left good plenty entirely until the Judgement Day.

Coketown is painted as a snake pit on Earth. devouring the lifeblood of its dwellers. and the fact that it itself will be destroyed in the terminal is of monumental insignificance for the infinite coevalss who will hold to labor at that place until so. On the other manus The Circus is represented as a symbol of “Humanity” every bit Well as Art. The circus is really of import as a sybol in the strategy of this moral fabrication. The circus people symbolize non merely art but besides humanity: they are incarnations of those simple virtuousnesss of understanding and helpfulness to others for which gradgrind’s doctrine has no usage and Bounderby’s hardened bosom. no room.

There is a singular gradualness about these people. a particular inaptitude for any sort of crisp pattern. and an hardworking preparedness to assist and feel for one another. The moral of this novel as a whole is put by devils in the oral cavity of Mr. Sleary of the circus. After giving an history of the decease of siss’s male parent to gradgrind. Mr. Sleary comes to the decision that there is a sort of love in the universe which is non self-interest afterall. but something really different. and that this love has a manner of its ain of ciphering or non ciphering.

This is the supreme message which the novel has for us. In these few words we find a disapprobation of all that Gradgrind. Bounderby. and Mrs. Sparsit symbolize. and an credence and blessing of what Stephen and Rachel. Sissy. and Mr. Sleary himself. typify. There are. therefore. strong evidences for naming this novel a Moral fabrication or a morality drama with the characters working partially as persons but chiefly as symbols. Finally. there are transitions of direct moralization which lend to the novel the character of a fresh fable or morality drama.

At one point. for case. devils warns the “commissioners of fact” and the useful economic experts that if they do non go to to the inherent aptitudes and emotions of the hapless people. world will take a wolflike bend and do an terminal of everything. At another point Dickens offers an dry commentary. with an obvious lesson. upon the effects of Gradgrind’s system of instruction on Bitzer’s mentality. And so. of class. there is a field and straightforward maoralizing in the concluding chapter when the writer remarks upon the ultimate destiny of each of the characters.


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