North and South and Hard Times

analytical Essay
3011 words
3011 words

North and South and Hard Times

In "Industrial" H Sussman states that "one of the most significant shifts created by industrialism" was that of the "separation of the workplace from the home". This "shift" created "new gender roles" with the "husband as breadwinner [and the] wife as childcare giver" and led ultimately to the "19th century ideology of the two separate spheres - the masculine public sphere of work [and] the private female sphere of domesticity". Is, however, this "shift" one which Elizabeth Gaskell in North and South and Charles Dickens in Hard Times not only reflect but one which they endorse?

If the public sphere is masculine then the opening chapters of HardTimes immediately confronts us with this masculinity in the form of Gradgrind. The opening line of the novel, "Now what I want is facts", is assertive and authorative, the masculine manifestation of public speech. The demand for facts can be articulated by Gradgrind and responded to in the appropriate terms by Bitzer, who too, is part of this masculine world, and who can therefore clinically define a horse. Sissy Jupe however, in the face of such assertiveness is unable to react in any terms other than being inarticulate and "alarmed". Dickens however does not share Gradgrind's demands for the masculine "fact". In writing Hard Times Dickens drew heavily from the criticism of industrial society in Thomas Carlyle's essay "Signs of the Times". In this essay Carlyle condemned a society where: "Not only the external and physical alone is... managed by machinery, but the internal and spiritual also". This is the idea that the competitive, masculine, business sphere has permeated into the private sphere,...

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...ard times but reflections of deeply divided ones.


North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell, Penguin Classics (1995).

Hard Times, Charles Dickens, Oxford World Classics (1998).

"Signs of the Times", Thomas Carlyle, Thomas Carlyle: Selected Writings , Penguin Classics (1971)

"Industrial", H Sussman in A Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture, ed. Herbet F. Tucker (1999).

"The Industrial Novels", Raymond Williams in Culture and Society (1958).

"What must not be said: North and South and the problem of women's work", Catherine Barnes Stevenson.

"The Domestic Sphere in the Victorian Age", Bonnie G. Smith in Changing Lives.

Charles Dickens: The Critical Heritage ed. Phillip Collins.

Elizabeth Gaskell: The Critical Heritage ed. Angus Fasson.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how h sussman states in "industrial" that the "separation of the workplace from the home" created "new gender roles" with the husband as breadwinner and the wife as childcare giver.
  • Analyzes how dickens drew heavily from the criticism of industrial society in thomas carlyle's essay "signs of the times".
  • Analyzes dickens' portrayal of the proletariat within the public sphere as a caricature of successful factory owner, who contrasts sharply with gaskell's thornton.
  • Analyzes how the character of margaret hale challenges the public sphere being entirely masculine.
  • Analyzes how sussman concedes that women were "permeable" for working class women in dickens and gaskell's novels.
  • Analyzes the representation of a woman trapped in the domestic sphere in hard times: louisa gradgrind, sissy jupe and rachael.
  • Analyzes h sussman's "industrial" in a companion to victorian literature and culture.
  • Opines that north and south and the problem of women's work must not be said.
  • Analyzes how thornton represents the public, masculine, sphere in north and south. he has money and power in milton, but margaret doesn't consider this new industrial class to be of equal social standing.
  • Analyzes how gaskell reasserts the "weakness" of women in margaret's greatest moment of public "strength".
  • Analyzes how gaskell reveals another role for women in the domestic sector, as paid servants.
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