Explore the meaning of the catch phrase “The Condition of England”. Can you say how this phrase applies to the novel Hard Times.
Exploring the works of Charles Dickens has been an interesting journey thus far for me. He is a writer who challenges my thought processes and constantly leaves me asking myself what his intension is behind his words.
In his novel, Hard Times, he depicts England in such a way that is contrary to my original perception. England has always been on my bucket-list, so to say. Since infancy I have wanted to travel there. If you asked me 10 years ago why I wanted to travel there my answer surely would have been, “the buildings and the cold weather”. There was something highly intriguing about the building structure; old fashioned, unique, classy and refreshing are the words I would use to describe England. This certainly appealed to me as I have lived in a tiny house in the middle of the city of Sydney my whole life.
Dickens’s novel, Hard Times, speaks about a different side to London that I have not been revealed to in the physical, but feel that through his emotive writing I have in the emotional.
There is one quote from the novel that stood out to me above all the rest, “give them a little more play”. Dickens is referring to the children workers. The term ‘play’ and the theory behind it has shown how ‘play time’ is a necessary part of child development. Is it then quite shocking to compare the two images, one of children working and the other of children playing.
The question that my mind kept coming back to throughout this section of the novel was the harsh conditions that children workers must be under if they have not yet had the opportunity to develop themselves through the use of play. Within this context, to ‘give them a little more play’ is not necessarily describing a child playing with a toy, but rather a break from their work.
Dickens further highlights this thought amongst the reader with his mention of a circus and the cities need for such a thing. That is, a circus is needed, as a place for people to go that is separate from their work: a place of fun and a place that encourages human imagination.
From a young 10 year old having dreams of one day travelling to England to experience a different life style than the city of Sydney has now been altered into a different image: a dark, horrific, cruel image that Dickens created through his emotive language.
The condition of England, I believe, lies within the eye of the beholder. I found Dickens’s concept of England quite harsh, eye opening, realistic and perception changing. I still aspire to travel to England one day.
I am a strong believer in the argument that anyone can be right if you have evidence to support you. I hope I have showed within this blog post how the condition of England can hold many views, depending on the viewer.