Portrayal Of The Working Class Of Women In Hard Times By Charles Dickens
In Hard Times, Charles Dickens excerpts unfair gender relations in 19th century England by representing the unjustified social roles, high set expectations, and discrimination English women faced by their social status as working class women were exploited by industrialization as female characters’ Louisa, Cecelia, and Mrs. Sparsit defy these circumstances. Dickens depicts the hardships that primarily antagonize Louisa, daughter of Gradgrind who has raised Louisa and her beloved brother Tom through a strict practice of rationalism and isolation from the outside world under his code primarily circulated due to his previous life as a successful barter. However, in Hard Times the novel illustrates a substantial amount of oppression towards character Louisa based on her particular upbringing, expectations set by her father, social status, and sets notes on the obvious gender indifference existing in England at the time period. As Dickens revolves around gender and how women under this scenario reacted to their surroundings as he dives deep into Louisa’s reactions towards her education and lack of a fully developed childhood. Louisa finds herself sequencing into a practically arranged marriage with Mr. Bounderby, close friend of her fathers, who is significantly older than her to make her father Gradgrind proud of her although she ends up leaving him in the end scheme after figuring out his true past. Character Mrs. Sparsit is contextualized as being very deceitful but, she constantly glorifies her previous ties coming from a rich aristocrat family, unfortunately, sought to the drought of finances plagued by the new world order and her past broek marriage she is tasked with fulfilling the title as a maid for Mr. Bounderby to stay afloat. Dickens asserts how Mr. Bounderby is indeed a self-made man who elevated into owning the factory and bank, however, his come to soon lies are frequently glorified throughout the novel as he brags about how he succeeded as an orphan. This has a connection in retrospect to Mrs Sparsit’s previous past as she is looked at as a disgrace because of her current occupation compared to Mr. Bounderby illustrating how double standards and gender inequality have deeply arisen amongst these two.
As portrayed in the novel, social class was a significant factor that determined a working class woman place amongst English society as they constantly faced impoverished standards of living conditions along with unrealistic workforce standards set by their employers due to the dramatic movement of industrialization. Dickens strains this heavy magnitude of a gap between the “working class” of women and the upper class women as he portrays how the lower class was extremely neglected due to their indefinite responsibilities and expectations inflicted towards them throughout the middle of the 19th century.
Dickens portrays a cruel reality of the working class of women in setting of Coketown, a manufacturing town that has adopted to industrialization by adding factories and punctuates the era of social class aspects of England at this time plot in the most crucial ways. Dickens addresses how there is a growing hierarchy pyramid that is distancing the working class from upper class of women by the surge of the large development of a middle class due to the need of employment in order to survive “hard times.” He narrates the passage from book the second, of chapter one “Coketown lay shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun’s rays. You only knew the town was there because you knew there could have been no such sulky blotch upon the prospect without a town”. Author Dickens does an excellent job of illustrating the audience with an accurate description setting of Coketown as being a depressed town demanding hard labor to feed the thirst of industrialization through his descriptive third-person tone and ability to paint out it’s lack of being a beneficial place to live a normal casual life in. His optimization for a winless women work force gives reasonable insight on how this is not the correct environment for this group of women to thrive in as they are trenched in with life altering problems such as gender inequality, mistreatment, and displaced into toxic social placements. As Coketown is categorized, to truly only benefit the upper echelon that ran factories, merchant shops, banks, and the merciless business owners like capitalist defined Mr. Bounderby as this correlates to how men were in much more control enterprise way as well. Implicating a whole entire workforce prompted solely around the needs of industrialization showcases how it took the pressure off of the upper class families and transcended them to unite towns into work zones, factories, and create slums in this novel.
Under these circumstances, it has lead to many women as shown in Hard Times who were not entitled to being in the pool of the upper class to seek employment in factories which fueled the displacement of industrialization such as the representation of the factory worker Rachael. Not only does she suffer the ordeal of grinding away upon heftiful hours, and unbearable measurements in order to maintain her back breaking job but Rachel does not gain the same benefits as upper class women in terms of marriage. As she had a deep passion and inner love for Stephen who was employed at Mr. Bounderby’s factory.
Dickens does an amazing job to assess how much of a disadvantage the working class of women were in terms of their feelings, bonds, and relationships as they were not accompanied with the same privileges that the upper class women had because they could not be granted divorce. Dickens portrays this problem between Stephen and Rachael as they were stuck being affectionless towards each other due to Stephen being married to his drunken turned wife and not being allowed to resolve the problem due to their social statutes amongst English Society. As prime examples of how the upper class operated off of industrialization through the working class of women’s hefty expenses to gain wealth which really shines the light on the inhumane gap highlighted between the comparison of the two groups in England.
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