Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times takes a more straightforward approach to addressing political issues of the times by using them as the basis upon which he builds his characters. Bounderby, for example, frequently reminds anyone willing to listen of his impoverished childhood – how he was born in a ditch, how his mother abandoned him and left him in the care of an alcoholic grandmother. The fact that he is, at the time of the story, a wealthy factory owner and banker serve to illustrate the possibility of improving one’ s social station regardless of a person’ s beginnings.
However, because Bounderby is unable to understand the true condition of the hands, as well as the revelation that he was actually brought up by parents who ensured he was given a good education, Dickens also makes it clear that there remain several problems within the system. Part of this blindness of society to see itself in its true oppressive state is symbolized in the image of the serpents of smoke that rise from the factory chimneys. “ It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves forever and ever, and never got uncoiled” (Ch.
5.). Like the ills of society, in which those stuck in poverty were doomed to remain in poverty as a result of the actions of men in power, the smoke serpents would never become uncoiled in such a way as to dissipate. “ The smoke-serpents were indifferent who was lost or found, who turned out bad or good; the melancholy mad elephants, like the Hard Fact men, abated nothing of their set routine, whatever happened.
Day and night again, day and night again. The monotony was unbroken” (Ch. 33). As he tells his tale of wealthy people who have been forced to abandon their emotions and poor people who have been forced to abandon their dreams, Dickens illustrates how the prosperity of the Industrial Revolution has served to blind the new elite to the political issues that must still be addressed. In “ The Man Who Would be King” , Kipling introduces not only the general state of affairs in India but also the idealistic concepts of two simple men as they make their way into less civilized territories to make their fortunes.
While the story is presented more in terms of a horror tale, there remain hints of political commentary within the text. For example, when the newspaper journalist discusses the occupations of the two ex-soldiers Dravot and Peachey, who make their living by collecting information proving illegal actions perpetrated by smaller governments upon their people, he makes a blanket statement regarding the colonial government.
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