A Comparison of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen

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A Comparison of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen


Of the many authors to emerge during the nineteenth-century, Charles

Dickens and Jane Austen were among the few who would make a lasting

impression on the literary world for generations. Hard Times, often

referred to as Dickens’ ‘Industrial novel’ and Austen’s Pride and

Prejudice have been much read and well-loved classics for many years.

It is the purpose of this essay to compare and contrast the different

worlds depicted in both Hard Times and Pride and Prejudice. It will

also look at the literary development between the early and late

nineteenth-century. The essay will end with the examination of the

stylistic characteristics of each author.

In the world depicted in Hard Times, workers are treated as little

more than interchangeable parts in the factory's machinery, given just

enough wages to keep them alive and just enough rest to make it

possible for them to stand in front of their machines the next day.

The town in which the story is set is called Coketown, taking its name

from the ‘Coke’, or treated coal, powering the factories and

blackening the town's skies. It is a large fictional industrial

community in the north of England during the mid-nineteenth century.

In Chapter 5 of the novel, Dickens describes the town as having

buildings and streets that looked the same with red brick but were

forever masked with smoke. The reader is told that the town looked

like the ‘painted face of a savage’ and ‘serpents of smoke’ trailed

out of its factories. It is easy to imagine the sunshine struggling to

break through the thick smoke.

The lives of the workers were monotonous and hard as they lived in ‘a

town so sacred to ...

... middle of paper ...

...ast, Miss Austen’s very finely

written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent

for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of

ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with.’

(Watt, 1963).


Allen, W. (1954) The English Novel, Dutton, New York

Allen, W. (1960) The English Novel, Pelican, London

Bygrave, S. ed. (1996) Approaching Literature: Romantic Writings, The

Open University

Gray, M. and Gray, L. (2001) York Notes Advanced: Pride and Prejudice,

Jane Austen, York Press, London

Page, N. (1985) Macmillan

Master Guides: Hard Times by Charles Dickens, Macmillan Education

Ltd, London ("Romanticism (literature)," Microsoft® Encarta® 98 Encyclopedia. ©

1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.)

Watt, I. Ed. (1963) Jane

Austen: A Collection of Critical Essays, Prentice-Hall Inc, USA

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