The working classes

A very unusual but rather intellectual thing is how Dickens manages to criticise Mrs Sparsit for looking down on the lower classes but also manages to use her to satirise Bounderby as well. He does this by emphasising Mrs Sparsit’s overuse of the word Sir when referring to Bounderby.

The thing is Mr Bounderby does not realise that Mrs Sparsit’s overuse of the word is a form of mocking him, again showing him to be stupid and that he does not deserve the lifestyle he has and was born into. But once again this is in contrast to how Dickens perceives Blackpool, Dickens uses the quote’Old Stephen might have passed for a particularly intelligent man in his condition’ This is Dickens speaking directly to the reader in which he shows that even though not the most intelligent of men he was still very intelligent considering his background and that if he had the lifestyle Bounderby had it would have been well deserved. If you look at Blackpool he is a man with no education and he is at the bottom of the social hierarchy yet he is shown to be rather intelligent once again this is Dickens showing us the contrast between the two classes.Dickens also criticises Mrs Sparsit, I think that the whole point of her being in the novel is to represent the undeserved and falsely superior aristocracy. Even though she has fallen out of power she still thinks herself better than anybody else, including those richer than herself, such as Mr Bounderby. Mrs Sparsit is shown to be at the height of selfishness, she thinks of herself and only herself. Dickens looks for a way to contrast Mrs Sparsit with the working classes; this is where he brings in Rachael and uses her to do this.

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Rachael is put in place to represent all that is good in the world; this is done by Dickens purposely contradicting all of the values that Mrs Sparsit possesses. Again a quote from the text that backs up this point is where Rachael says’I am, as I have told thee, Stephen, thy poor friend. Angels are not like me.

‘ This shows she is a humble person and doesn’t like to accept any praise for the help she has given. She is also shown as selfless because at the end of the book we are told that even after Blackpool has died she stays around to look after his drunken, sick wife despite essentially being in the way and doing everything that would have been seen as wrong towards his wife. Looking at this evidence we can see that Rachael is portrayed as everything that Mrs Sparsit is not.It is easy to look at Dickens other texts not just this one to see that anyone who is meant to be aristocracy or the upper classes in portrayed as being wicked and pretentious. This obviously supports the argument that Dickens had affection for the working classes otherwise why would it be in most of his texts? Another example of how Dickens shows affection is the character of Sissy Jupe, he shows her at first in the classroom to be of the working classes, not just the working classes but of the travelling working classes, he makes her out to be looked down up on by Gradgrind which she is, this is evident when he tells her what job her dad does even though it is a lie, he says ‘We don’t want to know anything about that, here.You mustn’t tell us about that, here. Your father breaks horses, don’t he?’ This at first doesn’t really explain how Dickens shows affection but when we think about the way she is looked down upon it does, we know from reading the book that Gradgrind is an example of everything that is wrong with Dickensian England yet he is looking down on Sissy Jupe and seeing her as weird if you like, when in fact she is what a child is meant to be, it just highlights how everything to do with Victorian England is bad.

Again an example of the point is Slackbridge, he is the trade unionist, he is fighting for the rights for workers, he is a massive contrast to Blackpool who really does just want to get on with it, ok he may not like it but he doesn’t want to cause any hassle by making a point of it. Slackbridge is the biggest hypocrite in the novel, he calls himself one of the workers but by standing on a stage and addressing them all he sees himself as bigger, better and more important than them therefore doing exactly what he is setting out to stop, and Dickens points this out to us, once again proving that Dickens has made us believe this showing that he purposely shows affection for the actual working classes.The last point I wish to make is probably not that obvious but it is the way in which Stephen Blackpool’s wife is portrayed, I think that personally she is portrayed as a drunken slob who cannot control anything she does, which is evident in every way she is described, but has this got a certain meaning? I think it has, I think this is how Dickens tells us what the upper classes think of the lower classes, I would say that Blackpool’s wife is the stereotypical worker from the upper classes point of view, we know this to be very wrong by looking at the likes of Rachael and Blackpool himself, but in a sense it gives us a vague insight into the head of the upper classes and the aristocracy.To conclude I think that Dickens does have affection for the working classes as in this particular novel he seems to, whichever way you look at it, put down the upper classes and the aristocracy and make the lower and working classes seem the better of the two. He shows the working classes to be the backbone of industrial England.

When he writes about the two he will always have a character from both sides that contradict each other and surprisingly enough the lower down the social hierarchy the character is the more likely it is to win the comparison. He tells us that the upper classes think too highly of themselves while the working classes do not think enough of themselves. So as a total round up, yes, I do think that Dickens intends to show affection for the working classes of Victorian England.