Saturday, November 16, 2019

Dickens’ Victorian Critique of Church and State Essay Example for Free

Dickens’ Victorian Critique of Church and State Essay There is not much question in a look at his career’s work, that Charles Dickens was by his nature a harsh social critic. He would often make his characters morally objectionable in order to demonstrate the ills of society and would take an especially great interest in showing the iniquities of Church and State. In the deeply unequal England of the Victorian era, Dickens felt that he saw a lot of suffering, a great many people in need and a visible disgust of the rich toward the poor. The fact that these conditions had associated so closely with the premise of God and Crown had drawn out in critics such as Dickens as sharp distaste for the British institution girding both. That is why so many of his works centered on the relationship of the rich and poor, separated as such by the unwelcome permeation of authority of the former over the latter. The labor conditions Dickens explores in Hard Times through such figures as Stephen are contrasted sharply by the life of decadence and sanctimony denoting the figure of Josiah Bounderby. Clearly the figure through who Dickens channels the greatest pitch of protest, there is a clear hostility toward the hypocrisy and meanness which allows Bounderby to prevail over the poor of Coketown with a divinely entitled and self-declared superiority. It is here that Dickens captures the Victorian era’s undercurrent of resentment of the exploitation of God and Church for the interests of rendering selective such universal entitlements as faith and justice. In Bounderby, we are given the opportunity to view the justice system in Dickens’ time as something principally founded on inequality, determining a process which is governed by an aristocratic jurisdiction over that which deemed righteous, just and moral. All of these concepts emerge in Bounderby, and especially in a notable encounter with Stephen, suggest the most demonstrably inappropriate misuse of religious principles. In Hard Times, published in 1854, Dickens shows that he is specifically interested in dealing with a current problem of labor abuse. He draws a deeply negative picture of the rationalist political movement with which Bounderby may be identified. This was a powerful movement at the time in England. Rationality was focused on facts, which Dickens believed were used to give strict control over education, values and even creativity. This would impact the making of religion and justice too. The chief characterization of Bounderby captures this points exceedingly well, remarking that â€Å"there was a moral infection of claptrap in him. Strangers, modest enough elsewhere, started up at dinners in Coketown, and boasted in quite a rampant way, of Bounderby. They made him out to be the Royal arms, the Union-Jack, Magna Charta, John Bull, Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, an Englishman’s house is his castle, Church and State, and God Save the Queen, all put together. † (52) The declaration, clearly satirical in its delivery, is nonetheless a premise upon which we will find Bounderby behaving in the most repugnant of ways. When the aforementioned Stephen, an honest laborer detained in a marriage with an abusive and alcoholic wife, goes to Bounderby, the wealthy mill owner and a public judge, he is denied a request for divorce. Bounderby denies him because poor laborers like him are not expected to have the money to have a divorce. In the scene between Stephen and Bounderby, we can see how the justice system is deeply imbalanced, as are the attitudes of the people in the justice system. When Stephen argues that the legal system wouldn’t let him get a divorce was a ‘muddle,’ Bounderby disciplines him, â€Å"Don’t you talk nonsense, my good fellow,. . . about things you don’t understand; and don’t you call the Institutions of your country a muddle , or you’ll get yourself into a real muddle one of these find mornings. The institutional of your country are not your piece-work, and the only thing you have got to do, is, to mind your piece-work. You didn’t take your wife for fast and for loose; but for better for worse. If she has turned out worse—why, all we have got to say is, she might have turned out better† (Hard Times, 84) The response, which only makes Stephen more angry, shows how Dickens’ really likes to use the writing device of irony. As Bounderby and Mrs. Sparsit, who is a rich, high-class woman with a divorce, together call Stephen guilty of ‘impiety,’ we know that the two are having some sort of inappropriate relationship with one another. This casts a blaring spotlight on the hypocrisy at the root of his cruel religiosity. Bounderby takes on the mantle of Dickens’ twinned reproach for the system and church which had conspired to make England so deeply unequal a place. That God had come to overwhelm the senses of justice and humanism seems a clear justification to Dickens that the core morality of religion had by the Victorian age been exposed for the bastard-child of human conceit which it had come to embody. Indeed, in the above claim by Bounderby against Stephen, was can see that Dickens is be very sarcastic when he uses the word ‘impiety. ’ Particularly, the statement is delivered at the expense of a poor man, demonstrating a perceived relationship between righteousness and social class. The cruel and empowered judge would characterize himself as the man of God, so noted for his chosen rank and certainly not, from the reader’s (or Dickens’) perspective, because of his admirable moral disposition.. The outcome of Stephen’s visit to Bounderby and Sparsit is that his poor, labor-class status renders him morally, and thus legally, forbidden from divorce. A clear symptom of the Victorian era, we can see Dickens taking particular pains demonstrate that manner in which religion and justice had come to falsely associate. The vitriol which Bounderby aims at Stephen is powerfully representative of the purpose in this association, allowing the wealthy to prevail over fundamental personal institutions such as the faith, family and welfare of the poor. Works Cited Dickens, C. (1870). Hard Times. Barnes Noble Classics.

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