Hard Times

Why does Dickens compare the piston of the steam engine in the factory to the head of an elephant? The word elephant suggests a circus to me.

Chapter 5

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Dickens uses another sinister image to describe the pistons of the steam engines; they constantly go up and down "like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness" (Book 1, chapter 5). This unusual image suggests awesome amounts of energy and strength trapped in meaningless repetitive activity-which rather sums up the life of the factory.