- Slides: 17
Hard Times By Charles Dickens’ novel, Hard Times is an excellent illustration of change of the structure of class in England.
As a result of the Industrial Revolution, there was a rise in the middle class and establishment of the working class; the Victorian bourgeoisie overthrew the Hanoverian aristocracy. The roles in society changed into that which David Cannadine argues in his book, The Rise and Fall of Class in Britain.
The class structure Dickens’ describes is what Cannadine refers to as a three-layer society: • Land Owners: drew their unearned income from their estates as rents • Bourgeois Capitalists: obtained their income from their businesses in the form of profits • Proletarian Workers: made their money by selling their labor to their employers for weekly wages Class “for itself”/Class Consciousness • Each character in Hard Times knew their place in society and their actions and lifestyles fell into accordance. • One would have to go out of his way to cross paths with another of a different class.
Hard Times Classes • Stephen Blackpool: working class proletarian employed by Josiah Bounderby • Josiah Bounderby: wealthy manufacturer • Thomas Gradgrind: a man after Jeremy Bentham’s logical Utilitarian heart was a Member of Parliament and teacher at a school that focused on facts and only facts. This character even creates an educational social class which he enforces strongly upon his children.
Relationship between Mr. Bounderby and Mrs. Sparsit Illustration of the change in social class and literary tool used by Dickens to create the effect of irony. • Mr. Bounderby: the stereotype of the “self-made man” who pulled himself out of the lowest of low in society • Mrs. Sparsit: comes from the old aristocracy and still believes herself to be of such a high social standing. Ironically, this “grand lady” works for a man who was born in a ditch—a man who in the age of aristocracy would have served her
Hard Times vs. Persuasion Jane Austen The society in Hard Times is a contrast from that of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which took place in the summer of 1814 at fictional Sir Walter Elliot’s estate, Kellynch Hall of Uppercross in Somersetshire, and then later in Bath, however it is evident that the change in class structure has begun in Persuasion. Society and wealth in the age of aristocracy was land-based, while wealth during the height of the Industrial Revolution and the society in Hard Times was industry-based. The rise of the middle class showed the change of power to belong to those of “new money” rather than “old money”.
Coketown vs. Coalbrookdale Hard Times takes place in the fictional British town of Coketown, which gives reference to the Industrial Revolution. In 1709, the originally brass-founder, then later ironmaster, Abraham Darby, discovered a method for smelting iron using coke (which is pre-heated coal) instead of charcoal to make iron. This new innovation for making wrought iron rather than the previous, more brittle cast iron helped to jumpstart the Industrial Revolution, and because Darby did most of his work in Coalbrookdale, it and the adjoining area that became known as Ironbridge are often referred to as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain. Ironbridge was given its name when in 1779 Abraham Darby III builds the first cast iron bridge across the River Severn.
Friedrich Engels’ View This description of Coalbrookdale and Dickens’ of Coketown are also similar to Friederich Engels’ (who later went on to compose the Communist Manifesto with Marx) view of Industrial Manchester in 1844. He said that the laboring quarters of the city were located between the northern boundary of the commercial district and the Irk. Even the good streets in this location are narrow and winding and “the houses dirty, old, and tumble-down, and the construction of the side streets utterly horrible. ”
Engels Believed: • Laborers had poor working conditions • Laborers were crammed together in slums • Laborers could be replaced easily, so the manufacturers didn’t worry about worker’s rights and they gave the smallest amount of benefits and paid the lowest wages possible. • There was a clear separation of worlds between classes and that one would have to go way out of his way to run into one of another class.
Work Ford Madox Brown’s painting, Work, displays the opposite of Engels’ belief of class separation. In his painting, all three classes are represented. In the middle, the proletarian workers are hard at work. On the right, the business owners are watching over the worker’s production. Finally, on the left are upper class or even upper-middle class women passing by, trying to stay away from the filthy workers, while passing out pamphlets.
Cardiff, Wales was also an important city in the British Industrial Revolution. According to the article, “Full Steam Ahead”, Wales was the world’s first industrial nation with more of its population becoming engaged in industry than agriculture in the 1840’s. Cardiff was the perfect place for industry to be born with its mines and steel mills. In fact, the world’s price of coal was determined by the Welsh city.
London and the Great Exhibition • In 1851, the Great Exhibition, also known as the Crystal Palace, opened in Hyde Park. By the mid-nineteenth century was leading the Industrial Revolution and the purpose of the exhibition was to display Britain’s superiority in industry, economics and military. • One of the results of the Great Exhibition was what London intended, to showcase their superiority. By the mid-nineteenth century, the era was referred to as “Victorian” (after the current monarch, Queen Victoria) worldwide. • Class was also a part of the exhibition. The landowners and the bourgeoisie were the ones who attended the exhibition, especially because it took place in London’s west end, which was the wealthy part of the city, to view the products of the Industrial Revolutions, products made by the lowly working class.
The Crystal Palace • Completed in 10 days by Sir Joseph Paxton • Made out of iron and over a million feet of glass • Had 13, 000 exhibits from all over the world • Had 6, 200, 000 visitors • Exhibits included: • Jacquard loom • an envelope machine • tools • kitchen appliances • steel-making displays • reaping machine from the United States
The age of feudalism and aristocracy was over. The beautiful countryside estates and gentlemen and ladies were becoming few and far between. Capitalism and industry were polluting the cities in the form of sweat, blood and smog. While Cannadine was correct in saying that society had dramatically changed, he was incorrect in his argument that class had fallen completely.