Analyse Louisa’s Marriage with Bounderby as an Example of Patriarchal and Utilitarian “Arrangement” in Victorian Society (Hard Times by Charles Dickens)

Only available on StudyMode
  • Topic: Victorian era, Hard Times, Gradgrind
  • Pages : 5 (1808 words )
  • Download(s) : 326
  • Published : April 17, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
A patriarchal society is the one in which the father is the head of the family. In such a social system, men have authority over women and children, and descent, kinship, and title are traced through the male line. The idea of utilitarianism suggests that human beings act in a way that highlights their own self-interest. It is based on pure factuality, leaves out on imagination. Dickens provides three vivid examples of this utilitarian logic in Hard Times through the characters of Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, Mr. Bounderby, and Mr. Gradgrind. Mr. Gradgrind educates his daughter, Louisa, with facts and facts alone. He raises her to disregard emotions and see everything in terms of statistics. He forces this type of education upon Louisa much like the marriage with Bounderby that ends up being nothing but a loveless marriage without any hope for improvement. Written during the Victorian era, Dickens’ novel, Hard Times, constitutes of a number of examples to prove the prevalence of patriarchy in the society at that time. Marked by Queen Victoria’s reign from 1873 to 1901, the Victorian era is known for its cultural, political, economic, industrial, and scientific changes. The status of women is often seen as a discrepancy between England’s national power and wealth and what many consider its appalling social conditions. During this period difficulties escalated for women because of the vision of the ideal woman shared by the society. They had no voting rights or the right to property, their only role was to have children. Professing a job other than that of a domestic servant was forbidden, they were simply confined to the domestic sphere. Education was viewed as the economic necessity of men only. The attitude towards women’s education was that education need not be of the same extended classical and commercial characteristic as that of men. Women were supposed to be educated in issues that involved domesticity. Subjects such as history, geography and general literature were important but not Latin and Greek. Women who wanted to study law, physics, engineering or medical were dismissed and satirized. The Victorian society deemed it unnecessary for women to attend university. In Hard Times, Dickens’ portrayal of Louisa Gradgrind is that of a realistic character who faces conflict from the start of her life. Louisa encounters three major psychological conflicts in the form of three different men: Mr. Gradgrind, Mr. Bounderby, and Tom Gradgrind. Men play a very important role in the shaping of Louisa's life. Instead of being her own person and expressing her own feelings, she falls under the realm of these three men. She isn't allowed to express herself because her father continually stresses the facts. Mr. Gradgrind suppresses Louisa's imagination and all she can do is wonder. One example of Louisa attempting to view the unknown occurs when she and Tom peep through a loophole in order to see a circus. This is the first time both Louisa and Tom have seen such a sight. When asked why they were there, Louisa curiously answers, "Wanted to see what it was like", a response any normal child would have. Her "starved imagination" is curious and needs some sort of avenue for release. As Louisa blossoms into a young lady, the young Miss Gradgrind enchants one particular suitor. Her father thought that it was time for Louisa to marry and had a suitable companion in mind. When Mr. Gradgrind asks Louisa if she would like to be Mrs. Bounderby, all Louisa can utter is, "You have been so careful of me, that I never had a child's dream. You have dealt so wisely with me, father, from my cradle to this hour, that I never had a child's belief or a child's fear" Mr. Gradgrind interprets his daughter's words as a compliment to him and his strict belief in teaching only the facts. But Louisa means she has not experienced life and has never been given the chance. Her childhood has been murdered by her father's strict insistence on the perpetuation of...
tracking img