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Individualism against the Utilitarian Collectivism of the Nineteenth Century in Charles Dickens´Hard Times
2001 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

Hard Times is generally known as an industrial novel which exposes the evils of the industrialism of the mid-nineteenth century Britain. However, it is difficult to grasp the term industrialism fully without the historical understanding of utilitarianism. Victorian Utilitarianism that derived from the seventeenth century and eighteenth century materialist and empirical traditions had a huge impact on the ethics of many areas of the nineteenth century society. That is to say, the majority of people were politically, educationally, and economically under the influence of the utilitarian thought. However, Charles Dickens, among others, was against this collective wave of thought. In Dickens’ estimation, this society was in a state of a serious bankruptcy of humanity. He found no place for imagination and flexibility in this way of thinking. Here in Hard Times, he miniaturizes British society in a small town called “Coketown”. Coketown is materialistically prosperous but the inner state of the people in town is the opposite. Children in the school are mentally suffocated by the tightening frame of utilitarianism. The majority of people in this society are under the fetters of the utilitarian system. Dickens attacks this utilitarian system with some free thinking individuals as his weapons in Hard Times. This essay investigates how, in Hard Times, Charles Dickens defends individualism against the utilitarian collectivism of the nineteenth century.

Abstract [en]

Hard Times is generally known as an industrial novel which exposes the evils of the industrialism of the mid-nineteenth century Britain. However, it is difficult to grasp the term industrialism fully without the historical understanding of utilitarianism. Victorian Utilitarianism that derived from the seventeenth century and eighteenth century materialist and empirical traditions had a huge impact on the ethics of many areas of the nineteenth century society. That is to say, the majority of people were politically, educationally, and economically under the influence of the utilitarian thought. However, Charles Dickens, among others, was against this collective wave of thought. In Dickens’ estimation, this society was in a state of a serious bankruptcy of humanity. He found no place for imagination and flexibility in this way of thinking. Here in Hard Times, he miniaturizes British society in a small town called “Coketown”. Coketown is materialistically prosperous but the inner state of the people in town is the opposite. Children in the school are mentally suffocated by the tightening frame of utilitarianism. The majority of people in this society are under the fetters of the utilitarian system. Dickens attacks this utilitarian system with some free thinking individuals as his weapons in Hard Times. This essay investigates how, in Hard Times, Charles Dickens defends individualism against the utilitarian collectivism of the nineteenth century.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 18 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53643Local ID: ENG C-11OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53643DiVA: diva2:1102203
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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  • apa
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  • vancouver
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
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Output format
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