Comment on Dickens satire with refrence to Mr. Bounderby.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hard Times, in the character of Mr. Bounderby, Dickens is satirizing the worst of the self-centered materialistic values to come out of the industrialization of England. From Collins Dictionary, the Online Etymology Dictionary and Random House Dictionary (all available at Dictionary.com), we learn that a "bounder" is an obnoxious ill-bred person who is reprehensible in his behavior as well as morally reprehensible and who is a "would-be stylish person" with "objectionable social behavior." And that, in typical Dickensian name symbology, sums up Mr. Bounderby (i.e., Bounder-by).

The point of satire is to present the exaggerated truth of the ways in which society or an individual or group have moved away from or broken a culturally agreed upon and accepted standard of behavior. In this case, the standard would have deep roots in Christian theology but would also have confirming and elaborating roots in the philosophy of humanists. The standard requires compassion, kindness, unselfishness and recognition of other individual's human dignity and right to respect. These are all the religious and philosophical ideals that were being violated in England by the captains of burgeoning industrialization. Therefore this divergence from the standard is what Dickens is satirizing through Mr. Bounderby by way of mild, humorous Horatian satire.

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