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PatrickMcEvoy-Halston Professor Burgar S.

English380 7 June2002 JournalEntry #2 two CharlesDickensmay havecraftedthe men in Hard Timesintendingto emphasize different of fancy-but the purpose his craft may is camps--those whosesympathy with facts,andthosewho create imagesof men strongenoughthat next to them he haveprimarily beento presenthimself with successive / could moreeasilyimaginewomenasmeekandmild.tFor hirn, craftinga novel mayhavebeensimilarto are To of the deliberate fashioning a heroa boy makes himselfin his daydreams. boys,daydreams not as / function( they allow boys feelings atoryanddefensive simply the productof whimsy; they havecompens

keep atbay feelingsof humiliationby women. Hard Timesmay to of hyper-masculinity momentarily him; to havebeena salveDickenscreated combatfeelingsthat female"poisons"hademasculated anda Mr. eitherthe masterof the classroom Mr. Slearyagainst readingof the novel which pits the circusmaster m&yhaveus neglectDickens'sprimary Mr. of Gradgrind, the master the household Bounderby, or malesandfemales. antagonists, find the relationshipbetweenboys andtheir Though somefeminist critics like Elaine Showalter how patriarchyarises,this mothers(the womanboys cometo know most intimately) crucial to understand morethana kernelof truth. Dickens I is still a politically incorrectthesis;nevertheless,think it contains showssignsthat strongwomenterriff him. Therearetwo primary signsof this in Hard Times. Thereare if women--as they are of menfollowedby descriptions passive consistent scenes dominating of in the inexorablyconnect.d-{tnorrghout novel;andthereis alsoonekey scene which a manfinds himself powerless the company his wife to stopher from obtaininga bottleof toxin. in of Mr. Gradgrind,Mr. Bounderby,andMr. Slearyareall featuredin the text in situationsin which imaginesthemin dominion over eithera the reader,asmuch asthe writer who creates scenes, the their commanding their classroom, their household, a circus. Almost aswith superheroes, gestures, or / powertYUt. Gradgrind useshis hint heightor tallness, their postures at their potentiallyexplosive and focuson a finger to surveya classroom.Almost like a snake, "mov[es]hereandthere"(7) to suddenly it is as child. But Dickenswould haveus think of his fingerasa cannon:Mr. Gradgrind described "a kind


of cannonloadedto the muzde with facts,andprepared blow them cleanout ofthe regionsof to childhoodat one dischargd'(6). Mr. Sleary'sstance his encounter in with Mr. Gradgrindremindsthe narratorand,presurrably,the menwho surroundhin! ofhow "he would havestoodin tle centreof the with control throughviolencg of rind' (34). Furtter wideirce that his stancgbecause its association intimidateshis companyis providedwhentle narratortells us, "he wantednothingbut his whip" (34). on beforea fire at StoneLodge so he EvenMr. Bounderby, the "Bully of humility," stands the heartbrug 'lhus took up a commanding position" (15). position:'is not, we note,an exarple of Dickens'suseof irony: Mr. Bound€(by's"commanding in Mr. Bounderbyboth intendsand,in a way, canbe irnaginedas zucceeding '3ubdu[ing]" (16) Mrs. which hasboth Dicke'rsand ounelvesirnaginingthis Gmdgrind. knmediatelyfollowing the he Mrs. Gradgrindasan o<arple of"surpassing bullying Mr. Bounderby, characterizes empowered, (16). This linloge of a strongmanwith a meekwomanor womenfits a pattemthat appliesto feebleness" the Mr. GradgrindandMr. Slearyaswell. Dickenscharges text with an irnageof finger ascannonand has subsequently Mr. Gradgrindpoint his finger on "Girl numbertwenqf' (6) who blushesand curtseys. 'lendo of We follow our imaginingof Mr. Slearywith whip in handwith the preseirtation a groupof hearte4 simplefoolish setof women" (34). A constuctedimageofa stong man seerx, in my opinion, / but bring to mind females, helpsDickensimaginethemas feebleandpowerl not only to immediately "rr. it may This paired sequence associations haveexistedin Dickem's mind because is the fear of sfong of of"super-men" in the first place. womenwhich creates needfor fictional creations the With this readingof the text, theo,Mr. Gradgrind,lvlr. Bounderby,andMr. Slearyarenot most in meaningfrrllyor bestund€rstood the waysthey differ from one another.The real male opposites the , .^pA,' in dPo.\q" Blac$ool, who is porhayedasp:w€rt:s- to contol his wife. Stephen's1-,, ti text aretlese m€nwith Stephen ,' ') I /


whichtap Stephen a spell,andwith herassociation the in with wife, with herterrirying"defiant"€yes in it a who bottleof poisoqis theserpentine creature thebook In this case, is she, woman, is upona ran. / characterized paralysing preying as and mindsetof a traumatized boy. His little lfurd Timesis theworkof a genius thepolarized with 9


makes by mendominated their wiveso world of violent menwho keeptheir women"in line," andpassive the book a lesseasyreadthanit would be otherwise.I amnotihough leadto hateDickens;rather,he for for deserves, has,my respect his grftsandsympathy his pains. and 7


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