Hard Times

Methods of Social Criticism in Dickens' Hard Times College

Ideas of social change and progressive ideals are prominent in many nineteenth century works of literature. Charles Dickens’ Hard Times is a prime example of a social criticism novel, putting prominent ideas of the time period, such as utilitarianism and social class, to the test. Dickens uses specific literary techniques that are highly effective in shocking the reader into understanding Dickens’ views. Dickens uses symbolism, satire, and synecdoche, among other literary techniques, to emphasize his argument.

Perhaps the most effective technique is symbolism. Dickens uses it to exaggerate some ideas that may otherwise be overlooked in the overall complexity of the novel. A symbolic motif running throughout the novel is that of the farming cycle, and the idea of reaping what is sown. In the first chapters of the novel, Gradgrind, Bounderby and McChoakumchild “sow the seeds” of Fact into the young, fertile minds of children. The only seeds planted are those of Fact, and fancy and feeling are discouraged and tamped down by adults. In the second part of the book, the characters begin to “reap” what they “sowed” in the children at the beginning of the novel. The doctrine of fact alone...

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