What could one speculate about Dickens’s opinion of the growth of factory cities based on the repetition of phrases like “like one another” and “the same” or the description of how “the jail might have been the infirmary, the infirmary might’ve been the jail” in Hard Times?

One could speculate that Dickens's opinion of the growth of factory cities is an entirely negative one based on the repeated phrases and descriptions of Coketown in Hard Times. Dickens was opposed to utilitarianism and describes the ugly, repetitive designs of the buildings in Coketown in order to critique the aesthetic and spiritual failings of the philosophy.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The description of Coketown that Dickens's narrator provides suggests that Dickens feels unhappy and disdainful about the lack of poetry and beauty in the appearance of the new factory cities that were springing up in response to the industrial revolution. He dislikes the repetition in the design of the buildings...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The description of Coketown that Dickens's narrator provides suggests that Dickens feels unhappy and disdainful about the lack of poetry and beauty in the appearance of the new factory cities that were springing up in response to the industrial revolution. He dislikes the repetition in the design of the buildings and the way that one building can be interchanged with another regardless of function: the infirmary for the jail for the town hall. Everything is blasé and ugly because the town is run on the principles of utilitarianism:

Fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the material aspect of the town ...

The "immaterial" philosophy of utilitarianism, in which life becomes a calculus of the greatest good for the greatest number, permeates Coketown until the rationale of doing everything in the cheapest and most efficient way chokes off beauty, poetry, and the depths of human relationship. For Dickens, the ugliness of the factory town's physical aspects reflect the inner or spiritual ugliness created when every aspect of life is subordinated to the profit motive.

Like Sissy Jupe, Dickens would like to see poetry, love, and whimsy enter into both the physical and spiritual space of the factory town, but what he actually sees, as reflected in Coketown, is nothing like that. Dickens states in that in Coketown "everything was fact," a situation he deplores and critiques in his novel.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team