A Utilitarian Study of Binary Oppositions in Charles Dickens’s Hard Times

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Harmik Badali Melkonians


This article focuses on the binary oppositions Dickens creates in his novel Hard Times to depict the suffering the proletariat goes through due to the harsh working conditions, and low wages policy in the industry-stricken society of the nineteen century England. To this end, the article will analyse the characters in the novel, mostly through Dickens’s description of them, and they will be divided into two groups: those raised through the utilitarian educational system, and those in non-utilitarian environments with more Romanic elements involved. It is argued that despite the teachers’ insistence and persistence in raising a whole generation through strict machine-like educational systems that tended more to neoclassical principles free from any emotions, the system failed, and the group with romantic tendencies emerged as the victors. Besides emerging as victors, the non-utilitarians turn the utilitarians to their sides through the end of the novel becoming a role model for them. It is also argued how Dickens used the created binaries to criticize industrialization, the Laissez-faire policy, and nineteenth-century Liberalism.


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Harmik Badali Melkonians. “A Utilitarian Study of Binary Oppositions in Charles Dickens’s Hard Times”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 9, no. 1, Mar. 2024, pp. 1-11, https://thecreativelauncher.com/index.php/tcl/article/view/1148.
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