Hard Times

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Compare the characters of Slackbridge and Blackpool in this chapter. How do they symbolise both the values that Dickens admires and the attributes he dislikes?

In this chapter Slackbridge is presented as a loud, hot tempered and shallow man, whereas Blackpool is presented as an honest, calm and straight forward man, also a man of great honesty, compassion, and integrity, Stephen maintains his moral ideals even when he is rejected by his fellow workers and fired by Bounderby. During this chapter Slackbridge gives an impassioned speech about the necessity of unionizing and of showing their sense of fellowship. The only person who remains unconvinced is Stephen Blackpool. Stephen says he does not believe that the union will do any good because it will only aggravate the already tense relationship between employers and workers.

You can tell that these two men are opposite characters when they perform their speeches. Slackbridge is portrayed as a talented speaker as Dickens writes “Slackbridge, the orator, looked about him with a withering smile”. This also shows that he is an arrogant and sarcastic man. He uses long, complex sentences to confuse the audience and making it difficult to follow what he is saying. This implies that Slackbridge wants to show off his power; however Stephen says nothing to suggest power. Blackpool uses simple sentences and no fancy vocabulary whilst speaking, for example “That’s not for him” and “That’s not for nobody but me.”

The noun “friends” is repeated and used by both characters, but in two different ways. Slackbridge uses the hyperbole “Oh my friends” to try and manipulate the workers as he does not care about them. Slackbridge also says “Oh my fellow-country-men” to try and act as if he is their friend, to try and persuade the workers to go on strike. The industrial revolution was happening at this moment in time. It was a period from 1750 to 1850 where changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and...
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