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The Blue-collar Appeal of Hard Times

The Blue-collar Appeal of Hard Times

In Hard Times, Charles Dickens gives us a close-up look into what appears to be the ivory tower of the bourgeoisie of his day, yet these middle-class characters are viewed from a singular perspective, the perspective of those at the bottom of the social and economic system. Though Dickens’ characters tend to be well developed and presented with a thoroughly human quality, the stereotypical figure of arrogant and demanding Bounderby fails to accurately capture the motivations and attitudes of the typical successful businessman of the day and is an indication of the author’s political motives. Hard Times, rather than presenting a historically accurate picture of the extraordinary changes brought about by the industrial revolution, is a one-sided attack on the utilitarian value system of the middle 19th century based upon emotional blue-collar appeals for labor sympathy that are not uncommon in today’s corporate environment.

Josiah Bounderby of Coketown represents the utilitarian attitude and, as such, is the villain of the story and clearly the target of Dickens’ political argument. Dickens characterizes Bounderby as a powerful individual, driven by greed and guided by a distorted view of human nature. He is the only wealthy industrialist introduced in Hard Times, although Mr. Sleary might arguably be considered the more virtuous businessman. Dickens clearly portrays Bounderby as a greedy and individualistic, self-serving capitalist; rather than an insightful, forward-looking crafter of a new industrial age. Dickens artfully weaves his political enemy into a pompous, arrogant image reinforced with traditional working-class themes that lead the reader to conclude that Bounderby, …

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…nate and truly human society should strive to benefit all classes of its citizens.

Works Cited

Coolidge, Archibald C., Jr. Charles Dickens as Serial Novelist. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1967.

Hayek, F. A., ed. Capitalism and the Historians. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1954.

Laughlin, J. Lawrence. The Elements of Political Economy. New York, NY: 1896.

Malthus, Thomas. First Essay on Population, 1798. London, England: Macmillan

A Freudian Reading of Hamlet and Titus Andronicus

A Freudian Reading of Hamlet and Titus Andronicus

In 1900 the eminent Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud produced a seminal work entitled The Interpretation of Dreams which contains the idea that dreams allow psychic exploration of the soul, that dreams contain psychological meanings which can be arrived at by interpretation. Freud states that “every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance, and one which may be assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state.” According to Freud’s original formulations dreams have two contents, a manifest content which is the dream that one actually experiences and a latent content which is the meaning of the dream as discovered by interpretation.

Literature can be thought of in the same manner, as a figment of the imagination whose underlying truth can be discovered through interpretation. A piece of literature may have a truth to tell but it can may remain hidden to us until such time as we interpret its signs. According to Freud there are three routes into the unconscious; dreams, parapraxes (or slips of the tongue) and jokes, and it is evident that psychoanalysis asks us to pay a lot of attention to language, in puns, slips of the tongue etc. This suggests how psychoanalysis is directly related to literary criticism, since both kinds of analysis focus on close readings of language. Therefore, by understanding Freudian theory, we can gain a deeper understanding of literature.

This essay attempts to discover how Freud’s psychoanalytical accounts of human nature can bring us to a deeper understanding of the family relationships at work in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Titus Andronicus.

According to Freud’s The Interpr…

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…s, in Bevington, David Twentieth Century Interpretations of Hamlet. (New Jersey:Prentice Hall, 1968)

Kovesi, Dr S. Lecture handout ‘Titus Andronicus and Psychoanalysis’ (2001)

Shakespeare, W. Hamlet and Titus Andronicus in The Oxford Shakespeare ed. Olver, H.J (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982)

Information regarding Freud’s theory and works taken from website addresses (General information) (Classic Psychoanalytic Theory) (Psychoanalytic Theory) (Psychoanalytic Theory) (Dictionary of Psychoanalytical Terms) (General information and Psychoanalytic Theory)

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