Hard Times

Symbolic Christianity in Dickens' Treatment of Utilitarianism 11th Grade

In Dickens’s Hard Times, Christianity is often alluded to both symbolically and literally. Because of the time period in which the novel was written, the presence of these religious themes are not surprising, but the way Dickens presents these allusions, sometimes with an air of humor and cynicism, is unique.

Many Bible stories are incorporated into the stories of separate characters in the book, and Bible happenings or quotes are paralleled in the happenings of Coketown. Both Rachael and Stephan can be seen as Jesus figures, Rachael because she always cares for others and is Stephan’s light and love, and Stephan because he is, in a sense, a martyr at the hands of the upper class (Bounderby, Tom and others). Sissy can be seen as an angel figure, because she brings light and love to Louisa and Jane Gradgrind. Many characters, especially those like Stephan, Rachael and Sissy, quote bible passages, such as “Do unto others as you would do unto me”, which is Sissy’s answer to a statistics question at the McChoakumchild School.

Many other allusions to Christianity are placed inside the text, hidden in descriptions and passive passages rather than in dialogue or action passages. These are the allusions...

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