Even after two hundred years, Charles Dickens’ rapier-sharp criticism of industrial England seems thought provoking and relevant to our times.
Dickens’s tenth novel, Hard Times describes the social and economic conditions of the mid-nineteenth century.
Appalled at the working conditions prevalent at the outset of the Industrial Revolution in towns such as Manchester and Preston, he endeavored to “strike the heaviest blow” in his power to educate his readers.
His vision was dismal and dark, a damning critique of industrial England of the nineteenth century.
The novel is made darker still by his portrait of the soot-coated industrial landscape of Coketown.
The blasting furnaces of Coketown make the place a hell.
The gas-filled air makes people feel asphyxiated.
Its inhabitants are shell-shocked.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and was a product of the Industrial Revolution, a revolution that saw the rise of factories in England
At the age of 12 he worked in Warren’s Blacking Factory attaching labels to bottles that had a traumatic effect on his imagination.
Meanwhile, he developed a strong sympathy for orphaned and abandoned children.
Considered Dickens' harshest indictment of mid-19th-century industrial practices and their dehumanizing effects, Hard Times offers a fascinating tapestry of Victorian life, filled with the richness of detail, brilliant characterization, and passionate social concern that typify the novelist's finest creations.
CHARLES DICKENS (1812-1870) transformed the art of fiction. The author of numerous novels and short stories, including Great Expectations, A Tale Of Two Cities, David Copperfield, and Bleak House, he is considered a literary colossus, and a central figure in the development of the modern novel.