Her love for Louisa is perhaps of utmost importance, but at the same time Sissy is driven by incontrovertible knowledge, knowledge based on observation and reflection.
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In short, Sissy embodies the best parts of two perilous extremities—emerging from the fray as an example for readers to follow. Left with more defects than he perhaps has a right to, he is ultimately left to his own idleness and lack of purpose, unable or unwilling to reform. Harthouse, indifferent to the last, sails out of the novel as its greatest scoundrel—with only a vague sense of his own inadequacy and absolutely no inclination to do anything about it. Gradgrind employees this utilitarian philosophy in his schoolhouse and repeatedly reminds the reader that there is no room for idle fantasizing and that nothing matters but Fact.
Not only does Gradgrind wield this belief in his school, but it is also the philosophy he teaches his own children within the walls of Stone Lodge. The mechanizing effects of Mr. Louisa Gradgrind is the central female figure in Hard Times; she strives to suppress her passions and curiosities so she might please her father by living a life led by Fact. The repetitive tasks of the factory workers are dangerous because they do not necessitate thought or evoke any sense of emotion.
The factories themselves produce gray smog and dense haze that fills the sky of Coketown, and lifeless ashes that cover the buildings in which the workers must live. Dickens suggests that when imagination is dulled, life will become a nearly unbearable existence, an existence without pleasure or meaning.
Louisa feels deep sympathy for her brother, convinces him to peep at the forbidden fancies of the circus, empathizes with Stephen Blackpool, and experiences emotional turmoil upon the arrival of James Harthouse.
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Gradgrind remains impervious to his system. Gradgrind realizes his system has nearly destroyed his favorite child, and understands it is because of him that his daughter is so detached from others. Louisa is the product of Mr. It is when Mr. Gradgrind realizes there may be something that is needful beyond Fact that he and Louisa are able to transform into something more than cold, hard products of the System, and begin sowing fresh seeds in the empty wastelands of their hearts.
Works CitedDickens, Charles. Hard Times. New York: Pocket Books, In geometry, a circle is a figure with no starting points or ending points, and can be rotated any way and look the same. Sissy, who has grown up in the circus ring, represents imagination, independence, and, most important, endurance. Compared to the Gradgrind children and model students, Sissy is quite probably the most stable character in the novel, because the never-ending pulse of circus life has ultimately shaped her into an individual of perfect, eternal love; Dickens reinforces this by continually referring to the circular aspect of the ring.
The perfection and continuity of a circle suits the personality of the reliable Sissy Jupe. However, the appearance of Sissy Jupe immediately begins to melt away the corners of his box-shaped heart. Gradgrind begins to regain his redemption from insensitivity by letting Sissy stay at his model school and house very early in the novel. In the first two chapters of Hard Times, the reader immediately sees the stark difference between the severity of the cubic schoolroom and the lively circus.
While Sissy Jupe infects and changes all with the virtue she carries from the circus—which carries on even without her—Gradgrind initially stifles the imagination of his young schoolchildren and pours facts into their box-like minds. However, Sissy, who is the catalyst of change, manages to transform the character, the shape, of her employer.
Leonard Bast, who can only grasp simple facts. His logic is based upon nothing but facts. Young Bitzer establishes that this same adherence to cold, statistical evidence has permeated younger generations at the behest of their teachers. When Sissy cannot provide a definition for a horse, an animal whom her family is extremely familiar with, Bitzer is commended on his definition that consists of naming the different physical properties that make up a horse.
Although Sissy, a representation of the impoverished, knows horses, has been around actual horses, she only knows them through experience. Bitzer on the other hand, a member of the more financially stable, creates his horse out of numbers. In contrast to Dickens, Forster positions the Schlegel sisters, academic and economic elites, as women who concern themselves with intellectual debate. Their pursuit is aimed at finding truth through the process of debate.
The simplistic idea of right and wrong is not what concerns them; instead, the idea of factual right and wrong is associated with the impoverished. It is in higher pursuits than just facts that the Schlegel sisters remain interested. Hence, they involve themselves and pride themselves on debate.
In order to find the truth, there must be interstitial connections. Different sides of the truth reveal themselves through debate and it is only through connecting these sides that man can find truth. Margaret, a representative of the educated elite, concerns herself not with piling up statistical data like Bitzer and his horse, but instead, with making connections. The wealthy are a people who can afford to make these connections. Accordingly, the poor can afford to know only limited factual information.
Leonard Bast is introduced as a clerk, a man of numbers and fact. For the wealthy, it is not the facts that guide man but the decisions that are based upon them. Yet for those like Leonard, the literal is all that they can afford. They are the limits of the impoverished. While Forster emphasizes learning the whole truth over its statistical composition for his wealthy intellectuals, for Dickens, that imagination is the provence of the impoverished such as Sissy Jupe.
For E. Forster, writing at the turn of the twentieth century, poverty is no longer romantic, but a subject of pity and concern. Departing from the previous rural economy, England now entered into the modern world of technology. In his novel Hard Times, Charles Dickens criticizes the industrialization of England and the dehumanization of spirit. Dickens portrays Coketown and its citizens as a microcosm for industrialization, with Stephen symbolizing the working class, Louisa representing the mechanized out-put of industry, and the town itself embodying a factory.
Stephen Blackpool epitomizes the working class in Hard Times, both through the names and words associated with Stephen and the character himself. He is unable to divorce his alcoholic wife and therefore cannot marry Rachel. Dickens implies throughout the novel that Stephen is perpetually stuck in his role in Coketown.
Only bad things happen to Stephen even though he remains an incredibly virtuous person throughout the novel.
He looks much older than his forty years and has had a hard life. Stephen, an almost saintly character, never speaks ill of others and appears honest and hard-working. Through Stephen, Dickens personifies the laboring society of industrialization. Dickens symbolizes the materialism of industrialization through Slackbridge. Stephen attends the meeting when asked to speak. Stephen has no problem with others joining the movement and he supports them, but he cannot join and simply wants to continue his job without any trouble.
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Slackbridge denounces Blackpool and he curbs his language only after several members of his faithful crowd demand that Stephen be given a chance to defend himself. Stephen lacks the rhetorical skills and the manipulative inclinations of Slackbridge and his deeply felt remarks are received to little avail.
Stephen is forced to leave town to seek work and is wrongly suspected of committing a bank robbery. Walking back across country to Coketown in order to clear his name, Stephen falls down a disused mine shaft. Though rescued, he dies soon later. Stephen takes a stand against Slackbridge, and thus a symbolic stand against industrialization, when he refuses the union. The end result of his outward criticism is not only his being shunned by his coworkers, but his death as well.
Throughout Hard Times, Dickens utilizes his characters to illustrate how urbanization results in the mechanization of emotion. His idea that the Industrial Revolution in England spawned a factory-like society is evident in his portrayal of one of the main characters, Louisa Gradgrind.
Louisa, raised in an environment based solely on facts, remains numbed from her emotions. Her father, Mr. In the Shadow of the Status Quo. The Wizards Beneath. From Fledgling to Buffy. Margaret A. Robbins, Jennifer Jackson Whitley. Gender, Class, and Marginalization in Beatrix Potter. Indifference, Neglect, and Outright Dislike. Magical Objects in Fantasy.
Critical Literacy in Inquiry Learning. But Ossessione was only a preparation for neo-realism. When Visconti made La Terra Trema in , the first of a never-completed trilogy on the workers and peasants of Sicily, he used a non-professional cast and introduced the political element that only hovered on the periphery of Ossessione. La Terra Trema is not a film of sexual passion, but of a passion for liberation and independence. In taking their cameras outside, using largely non-professional casts, and dealing with the working and peasant class in politically and economically determined situations, these filmmakers were indeed reacting against their own national cinematic tradition.
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But they were reacting as well to the larger tradition of Western cinema originated and perfected in Hollywood. They did battle against what they saw as a cinema of escape and evasion, uncommitted to exploring the world, seeking instead to palliate its audience, asking them to assent to comedic and melodramatic structures of love and innocence, of unhappy rich people and the joyful poor, of crime and revenge, the failure of the arrogant and success of the meek, played by stars of status and familiarity in roles of even greater familiarity.
It was a tradition of cinema that asked little of the spectator besides assent and a willingness to be engaged by simple repetitions of basic themes, a tradition that located the spectator in fantasies that had the reality of convention. The polemics of neo-realist theory actively attacked this tradition In the early fifties, Cesare Zavattini wrote:. This powerful desire of the [neo-realist] cinema to see and to analyze, this hunger for reality, for truth, is a kind of concrete homage to other people, that is, to all who exist. This, among other things, is what distinguishes neo-realism from the American cinema.
In effect, the American position is diametrically opposed to our own: whereas we are attracted by the truth, by the reality which touches us and which we want to know and understand directly and thoroughly, the Americans continue to satisfy themselves with a sweetened version of truth produced through transpositions. Their concern was with the most fundamental process of narrative film, the methodology and ideology of representation, and the ways the spectator was asked to observe and partake in it.