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What is important in the writing style used in Hard Times by Charles Dickens?

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dsalami17 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:10 PM via web

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What is important in the writing style used in Hard Times by Charles Dickens?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:27 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that one of the most significant element about the writing style that Dickens employs is to bring out an almost philosophical treatise to the literary narrative being depicted.  Dickens wants to make a statement about the limits of rationalism and utilitarianism and he is able to do this through his characterizations of specific individuals.  For example, when Gradgrind is written in the stylistic manner of one who demands rationalism and utility to govern consciousness through methodical analysis throughout, the style is reflective of this philosophical point of view:

Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.

The language employed, the writing style used, is a literary representation of the philosophical movement.  In doing this, Dickens is able to bring out a statement and intrinsic critique of philosophy.  In "literizing" the philosophical, Dickens' style enables his work to operate on the levels of literature and philosophy.  When he offers his critique of rationalism and utilitarianism, he does so through his characters, who represent and embody philosophical arguments.  Consider Louisa's questioning of her father in a style that is both literary and philosophical:

How could you give me life, and take from me all the inappreciable things that raise it from the state of conscious death? Where are the graces of my soul? Where are the sentiments of my heart?

In such exchanges, Dickens' style works on both philosophical and literary levels, making his work a distinctive stamp in both realms.

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