Presentation of Conflict in Hard Times

1343 Words May 22nd, 2013 6 Pages
Discuss the presentation of confict in the texts that you have studied

In “Hard Times” by Charles Dickens, conflict is presented as the outcome of industrialisation, material prosperity and a strict utilitarian way of life. In the 1850’s when the novel was written in instalments in ‘Household Words’, Victorian England was in the age of reform, which was creating new tensions between social classes, and creating a new type of ‘master’ represented by characters such as Mr. Gradgrind and more particularly Mr. Bounderby.

Conflict is shown between nature and the increasing rise of industrialisation. In Chapter 3 ‘The Key Note’ Dickens describes the setting of industrial Coketown, which is partially based upon 19th century Preston, which
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Bounderby who is described as ‘the Bully of Humility’. Stephen gives his impassioned speech ‘Look how this ha’ growen an’ growen, sir, bigger an’ bigger, broader an’broader, harder an’ harder..’The asyndetic list impacts the audience as the conflict and tension builds up. Stephens use of plosives ‘broader’ and the harsh consonants ‘harder’ emote his anguish against the unjust society in which he and his fellow working class are suffering in. The commanding verb ‘Look’ is not only Stephen’s but also Dickens plea for understanding between the upper and working class society in his own society. Dickens believed in ‘mutual feeling’ and understanding between workers and their leaders to prevent the conflict between the two social classes.

Louisa’s inner conflict is shown to be a cause of Mr. Gradgrind’s strict Utilitarian upbringing. Dickens portrays Louisa of having the gift of ‘wondering’ as a child as she lets her imagination create stories as she gazes into the fire. The fire imagery is used to symbolise the warmth of the creative spirit, in contrast to the cold and hard state of facts. However her father, Mr. Gradgrind who retorts ‘Louisa, Never wonder’, the adverb ‘never’, implies that she is to be completely restricted of all things fanciful and imaginative. This causes Louisa’s conflict as it is in her
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