Charles Dickens' Hard Times Essay

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Charles Dickens' Hard Times

There are a huge variety of characters in Hard Times, ranging from the good to the unnaturally cruel. The novel is full of extremity in its characterisation; cruel, bitter and selfish characters such as Mrs.
Sparsit contrast dramatically with characters such as Stephen
Blackpool and Rachael, who are benevolent and altruistic. Among the cruellest and most villainous characters in the novel is James
Harthouse, who is completely ammoral, and therefore rendered very dangerous by Dickens. Josiah Bounderby, is another particularly cruel character. He is utterly self-centred and prejudiced against the working-class of the novel (he categorizes them all as being greedy and materialistic:

"You [Stephen]
…show more content…
What more he was, or what else he had in him, if anything, let him show for himself".

Stephen, though kind and giving, does not seem happy in his life. He, like Harthouse, seems to have little motivation. However, in contrast to Harthouse, who has no morals and thus no motivation, Stephen has been continuously ground down by life; physically and mentally worn by the constraints of a working-class existence. He seems to have subconsciously given up even trying to pursue his right for a better life, accepting his situation with a kind of quiet submission. In a way, Stephen's kindness is partly to blame for his unhappiness. It could be argued that he hasn't fought hard enough for the things he wants; for example, he is not actually a member of the worker's union.
Stephen has a tendency to seem meek and quite passive. He seems gentle but is often depicted with too much sentimentality. It is almost frustrating the way that Stephen simply accepts that he cannot be with
Rachael, and must remain in a loveless marriage, when it is clear that he is unhappy (though of course, moral conventions differed in
Victorian times, meaning people had a different view of marriage
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