Dickens Symbolism in Hard Times

4703 Words Nov 7th, 2010 19 Pages
Hard Times Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory
Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.
Fairy Palaces and Elephants (a.k.a. Factories and the Machinery inside them)
This one is from the narrator and runs throughout the novel: the idea that the ugly, square, fact-based, oppressive mills look like fairy palaces with elephants in them when they are lit up at night. The image first pops up as something a person riding by Coketown in a fast-moving train might say – in other words, someone who doesn 't know any better what the reality of the place actually is. It 's an idea dripping with irony, since we already know that there is nothing beautiful or magical about the factories. Then, in a pretty neat trick, "Fairy Palaces" becomes kind
…show more content…
So there are subtle symbols, and then there is this one. Let 's see if we can decipher the very cryptic meaning here. Literally falling down a giant pit of doom is a little like…? Yes, that 's right, figuratively falling down a giant pit of doom. Just as Stephen is actually killed because he can 't escape from the big hole in the ground he walked into sight unseen, so too is he emotionally and psychically trapped in his terrible marriage. Or maybe it 's the legal system that he is trapped inside – the legal system which won 't let him get a divorce? Or maybe it 's not his marriage that is the pit of doom, but the way he is treated by the workers who shun him for not joining the union? Are there other possibilities? You decide.

Hard Times Setting
Where It All Goes Down
Coketown, England in the mid-19th century
Mid-19th century Victorian England
The novel is set in the same time place that it was written – the mid-1800s in England. Because this was the time of Queen Victoria, this period is usually called the Victorian era. We tend to think of Victorian England as stuffy, prudish, and way too uptight about sex. Though the English might have been incredibly conservative in their personal lives in this time, the nation was going through radical changes in other areas.

Probably, the biggest change going on during the Victorian era was the beginning of modern industrial capitalism. Goods began to be made by semi-unskilled workers in huge factories, rather
Open Document