North and South and Hard Times Essay

North and South and Hard Times Essay

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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,...


... middle of paper ...


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

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

 

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.

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