The 19th century witnessed the beginning of queen Victoria’s reign, the industrial revolution, realism as literary movement and realistic novels among other. When we refer to realistic novels, we are not talking about novels being a “reality” but instead we refer to the creation of fictional stories and characters that are very much like real life people and situations. In other words, authors wrote their novels to critize social unfairness, poverty, struggles, health issues and so forth, as a way to reflect the “truth” just as it was, and it all was possible because their stories and characters were believable.
Charles Dickens was one of the most influential writers of the time, his novel “Hard Times”, as the rest of his works, is vivid examples of what realistic novels would be like. He portrays his judgement towards society in a very comprehensible and even entertaining way, providing the reader an idea of the time and era he was living in. Furthermore, he lets readers identify with the situation and characters of the story, reflecting through the narrator his social perspectives of the time.
Regarding the novel Hard Times, there are several issues and characters we could point out, such as progress, social limitations, poverty, development, educational patterns of the time, Mr. Bounderby, Mr.Gradgrind, Louisa, Tom, Cecilia Jupe (Sissy), Mr. Harthouse, Stephen Blackpool among others. However, the one we identified the most with, was “Girl Number 20” or Cecilia Jupe (Sissy). Through out the whole story, Dickens shows her as an innocent, unprotected an abandoned child, but at the same time she becomes one of the most important and influential characters of the story. In addition, the author redefines, in a way, the role women had at the time, by giving Sissy the power to be herself and the power to do whatever she thought was right.
In order to present Cecilia Jupe as the heroine of the story, we will have to consider her background, being it, the cornerstone of the principles she will use for the rest of her life. Having mentioned this, we will begin by referring to the way Dickens gave form to Sissy’s childhood. A motherless child, who was raised by her loving and strange father. Even though her father was a sad and a depressed man, Sissy discovered how to please him by being more than a daughter, a caring friend; the author showed it in this quote: And you were his comfort through everything?’ She nodded, with the tears rolling down her face. ‘I hope so, and father said I was. It was because he grew so scared and trembling, and because he felt himself to be a poor, weak, ignorant, helpless man (those used to be his words), that he wanted me so much to know a great deal and be different from him. I used to read to him to cheer his courage, and he was very fond of that. (p. 51)
This is one of the reasons for us to give Sissy the heroical part in the story, though she made simple gestures, she made her father happy no matter what situation he was going through. It is easy to understand Sissy’s fairytale life, due to all the elements that surrounded her during her childhood: Her mother a dancer, her father a clown, her readings, most of them fantastic, but nourishing at the same time for both of them, here is one of the moments where she expressed her testimony: “Your mother?’ ‘Father says she was quite a scholar. She died when I was born. She was;’ Sissy made the terrible communication nervously; ‘she was a dancer...”Father’s a;’ Sissy whispered the awful word; ‘a clown.’ ‘To make the people laugh?’ said Louisa, with a nod of intelligence. ‘Yes. But they wouldn’t laugh sometimes, and then father cried”…” I used to read to him to cheer his courage, and he was very fond of that. They were wrong books- I am never to speak of them here- but we didn’t know there was any harm in them.’ ‘And he liked them?’ said Louisa, with her searching gaze on Sissy all this time. ‘O very much! They kept him,...
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