Role and Concept of Sleary's Circus in Hard Times Essay

1618 Words Mar 3rd, 2013 7 Pages
‘Hard Times’ is a Charles Dickens novel set in the social backdrop of the Victorian era during the Industrial Revolution that took place during the 1850s. The ill effects of Victorian Utilitarianism are upheld in this moralistic vision of the writer. Unlike most of his novels, ‘Hard Times’ is not based in London but in the red and black seemingly monotonous structures of Coketown. That being said, it still realistically allows the reader to observe the systems and structures of society forced to face various economic and social hardships. What preserves the novel as a social commentary is that the struggles in life and human emotions are still relevant “for these times”.

The rise in capitalist ideals brought forth an age where the
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They openly embrace Sissy and shower her with sympathy and motherly affection when she leaves the company following the abandonment of her father. It is thus, the embodiment of that section of society which is free of the pretentious restrictions that the middle class imposes upon themselves.

In a society that diminishes the individual, Sleary’s Circus acts as an effective contrast to the “eminently practical” Thomas Gradgrind’s Utilitarian world of “fact, fact, fact!” and the egotistic “self-made” Josiah Bounderby. Though a cohesive unit, there is also a prevailing sense of individualism in the characters of the circus. There is the celebrated vault act of the daring Mr. E. W. B. Childers who was assisted by a “diminutive boy with an old face” acting as a Cupid whose real name was Kidderminster. Bounderby turns out to be “a self-made man in the same sense that Kidderminster is a self-made Cupid, for Bounderby too makes himself up. There is even an inverted similarity in their most extreme pretences: Kidderminster pretends to be Childers’ son; Bounderby pretends not be his mother’s child”. (Society and Family in Hard Times, Catherine Gallagher). Signor Jupe, also a performer, seemed to have lost the ability to entertain and thought of himself as a “poor, weak, ignorant, helpless man”. He was determined to allow his daughter Sissy Jupe to have the education he wished for her and thus, left the abode for her betterment alone. Although the theme of failed

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