A Practical Criticism Essay
A Practical Criticism
This paragraph is a descriptive one. It sets the tone for the attitude of Dickens towards the workers, and the factories, which they inhabit. He describes Coketown as a shockingly realistic one and so in doing so further terrifies the reader into forcing them to open their eyes to the devastating world in which they inhabit. This is strange, as although Dickens is seemingly writing proletariat propaganda, his audience is in-fact the nobler classes.
Therefore we could be jousted into believing that Dickens is fronting a more revolutionary and extremist movement, as this novel, ad the time of its publication is closely linked to the French revolution- which Dickens confronts in A Tale Of Two Cities- and Britain’s own industrial revolution. The emphasis hanging greatly on the latter. However here Dickens uses a masterful array of techniques in which to produce, if anything but concise, a well structured and detailed report upon the aesthetical roles of the workers.
Dickens, by starting aesthetically, allows the reader to transform the basic principles in a manner in which to interpret the foundations of his novel. He uses much imagery to entice the reader into the story, and so allows the reader to get involved, which runs very consistently and conveniently with the origins of the story, as the story-line is one developed from his experiences and observations, of the lack of morality, ethics, and equality not just for a human but, cruelty suspended only for even animal like tendencies.
Here he addresses the monotonous and repetitive life of the worker, which is reminiscent of a factory assembly line. Dickens here seems to be a firm believer of the notion that we are just all bit parts in the machine called life. He represents this through the fact that the workers will allow their work and their greed and will to progress to occupy their life to such an extent that it engulfs them. And destroys their very life turning it into a robotic nightmare, as they are too transfixed with a detached goal that they themselves become detached from life.
The first three lines are descriptive ones, which describe the setting for which the description of the workers is to follow. This is a very distinct, technique, but one that is very Dickensian as it layers the detail until a complete picture of a vast magnitude of separate and individual objects, which are all commingled so to produce a comprehensive guise of the effigy that Dickens is trying to manifest.
Here Dickens uses a contrast of adjectives so to not only add light to the picture but to also add colour, as Dickens presentations are so grand and meticulous that they allow you to revoke an exact image on which you can add or finish in accordance to your adoption of the subjects that Dickens so mildly scathes. Earlier on in the Chapter it is suggested that it is not often cheerful in Coketown; “A SUNNY midsummer day. There was such a thing sometimes, even in Coketown. ” However Dickens having already affronted the situation of the weather, reengages in the daily pleasantries of setting and discussing the weather once more.
This is used as an example of repetition whereby Dickens is trying to show that it is even a remarkably cheerful day among the factories. We can infer from this that Coketown has two separate breeds of weather, one for the town and another for the factory. This, therefore ray of sunshine is therefore repeated as it is a bout of astonishment, the astonishment being that not only is the sun shinning upon the factory, but that it is able to; as we are told that a “… heavy vapour… ” droops over the town.
This vapour is caused by the soot and smog produced by the factory. This is a primary reason why we are presented with a town, quite adequately named COKETOWN; this being so due to the manufacture of coke (A primary fuel made by heating coal until it is vaporised and evaporates to form a gas) heralding such a high standing in the usage and manufacture of fuels (Through the 1800-1920 coal was the major source of power and was used, as the only alternative to drive much of the machinery being produced in the industrial revolution).
Dickens acknowledges that the pollution produced as a consequence would create a thick black smog that hung over the town, as if always having miserable weather, hence the use of light in the novel is very important as it is in scarce amounts, and so most of it is artificially generated, which continues the connection of the workers to the machinery that they slave upon. Yet Dickens pays much attention to the lighting and, so uses it in a strongly Biblical manner, where he illuminates- as if a ray of God or Hope- a character or object when it is of importance.
He uses the light, as a spotlight so to beam down and allow that ‘thing’ to stand out and be noticed. Much of this is subconscious techniques that inevitably draw our attention, so to coincide with that of Dickens, and so lead us along his chosen path and ideas. He therefore is dictating the course of events and the path in which we value, and follow them. He puts this to practise here where he parts the heavens so that “… the sun was so bright… ” and so illuminated the factory.
Here Dickens seems to freeze the course of action, so to explain to his audience the significance of this by describing the factory, and the procedures, which occur inside. It is here that Dickens begins to really piece together the puzzle that he has created by edifying the gravity of the factory combined with the impact and dictating role that it has upon its workers lives. Dickens adds a final note that it “… could not be looked at steadily. ” He does this so to relate to us just how intense the light is, so that we can digest the information and understand the deeper more ‘into place’ and constructed motives behind the description.
The ‘Stokers’ whom he refers to, are the people that burned the coal, it is strange yet justified that he introduces them by surfacing them above ground, from their underground home. Here Dickens is condemning people. He is using the darkness and filth, to show that the job is unsanitary. He describes them as rising from underground, which shows me that this is ambiguous, as it primarily, suggests a rising of the dead. This connotation can be used if he means that the men in mind are dead, and only resurface in body from their telling and taxing work.
However it could also mean the underground, which would connote to ‘Hell’ and the ‘Underworld’, showing a somewhat style of imprisonment. The black soot that dresses the workers could be a means of describing the workers as second-class citizens, as during this time Slavery (Which Charles Dickens did not condemn) was common place, and the slaves were of African origins, and so the soot may be a symbolic reference. The next sentence shows the lack of care or of standard of life for the workers as they all piled out into factory yards and had to make makeshift seats etc…
There were no benefits, or luxuries for doing such a dangerous job, and all they had during their break was a yard, which they could sit. This shows the greed, and immorality of the factory owners, as they had no consideration for the workers; all they saw them as was workers, and a means to progress under the workers strains. Dickens in the meanwhile, although documenting on such an atrocious act of humanity, makes it somewhat poetic, by his short spells of alliteration: “… sat on steps… ” “… posts, and palings… ” “… contemplating coals.
” It is the final piece that intrigues me the most. Here, in his abrupt, inventory-like ramblings, we see a great collage of punctuation; he uses the repetition of “… and… ” in a child-like manner, which only adds to the satire of the paragraph, as he constructs the sentence with a plethora of suspense, which builds an ascendancy of dismay. He also makes use of the comma to break up the sentence, where the final moiety seems to belong to a separate sentence. He creates a rambling through this technique of issuing objects, as if he was checking them, in a Gradgrind, utilitarian-like roster.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 November 2017
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