Charles Dickens’ Reflection on Society in Hard Times, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and David CopperfieldIn this essay I will be examining how and why Dickens chose to commenton the society in which he lived through his novels. I will beexamining ‘Hard Times’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Nicholas Nickelby’ and ‘DavidCopperfield‘.
Charles Dickens was considered to be one of the greatest Englishnovelists during the Victorian period, and during this period,novelists had a tradition of commenting on issues affecting societythrough their work. They chose to express their views like this sopeople would realise exactly what is taking place in the town orvillage they are living in.
Charles Dickens had a very disturbing childhood, members of his familywere sent to prison and he was sent to work at the age of twelve in aBlacking Factory; he became miserable. He escaped from this by writingfictional texts in school; he then developed his existing skills andmade rapid progress. From the entire trauma he went through, hedecided to express his pain through his words.
The education system was extremely poor. Only children with workingparents would be educated, whereas poorer children would have to work.In the novel ‘Hard Times’, the education system was firm, harsh andstern;
‘Quadruped. Graminivorous…Age known by marks in mouth.’
This straight-to-the-point definition of a horse suggests that theteacher spoon-feeds the young, tender, innocent children with uselessfacts. The word ‘Graminivorous’ highlights that these children arebeing turned into adults mentally because he ‘fed‘ the innocentchildren with facts that adults will normally know. Everything is sosimplified for him, the teacher does…
… was irony that Dickens used here: theword ‘parlour’ suggests that it is a pleasant home but what’s going oninside is totally the opposite.
In conclusion, Dickens has used his works successfully to comment onsociety because all of the issues that were affecting all classes ofpeople, he included them so we could really understand what went onduring the Victorian times. I have learnt a lot from this, about howpeople lived and how they were treated. I have learnt that these twoperiods of time were totally different to each other. The novel thathad the most impact on me was Nicholas Nickelby; this is becauseDickens made us feel sympathetic for the characters, he made me feelas if I was there as one of the characters because this novel was soconvincing. I really felt a lot of sympathy for the children who hadto suffer from this inhumane cruelty.