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Hard Times

             The novel Hard Times written by Charles Dickens, is a reflection of the evolving ideas prevalent during his time. Dickens" characters especially are personifications of changing ideas in psychology and political thought. Each one of his characters symbolizes a different belief and its association to society. Both Stephen Blackpool and Thomas Gradgrind, Jr. particularly characterize ideas of notable philosophers around the time of Dickens. Stephen Blackpool portrays the abused worker, suffering under capitalism as expressed by Karl Marx. Blackpool represents the oppressed working class of the 19th century in Dickens" novel Hard Times. He is portrayed as an honest, hard-working power-loom weaver employed by the factory owner and proclaimed "self-made man" Josiah Bounderby. Through the course of the plot Blackpool is found to have suffered many trials in life including a marriage to a drunk and the unfortunate love of a woman he cannot marry. He is even shunned and despised by his own class because of his refusal to join a union with his fellow factory employees due to his belief that the trade union agitator is a false prophet. Eventually he defends the workers against harsh words spoken by Bounderby about them and ends up losing his job for that. In Book Three of Hard Times Blackpool is accused of a crime he did not commit but is unable to prove his innocence except in asking Gradgrind to clear his name. These are among his last words, and he dies soon after. Through it all though, Blackpool is a moral, sensitive man holding no contempt against those who have wronged him. These struggles Blackpool confronts in Dickens" novel exemplify the ideas of Marx. Blackpool is Marx's personification of the corruption of the worker by capitalism. Blackpool is the first victim of the labor cause. He leads from his beginning a depressing life. "Stephen looked older, but he had had a hard life. It is said that very life has its roses and thorns; there seemed however, to have been a misadventure of mistake in Stephen's case, where by somebody else had become possessed of his roses, and he had become possessed of the same somebody else's thorns in addition to his own.

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