Villains Of The Victorian Age

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Villains of the Victorian Age:
A Comparison Between Thomas Gradgrind and John Thornton
The Victorian Age, which spans roughly the period from 1832 until 1901, is a term that covers England’s era of scientific revolution, economical progress and the country’s transformation to an industrial society. Novelist and historian Walter Besant observed the transformation of the mind and habits of the ordinary Englishman during the reign of Queen Victoria, after whom the Victorian Age is named. By 1897, he stated that the Englishman “would not, could he see him, recognize his own grandfather” (qtd. in Greenblatt 1018). The most remarkable reactions to contemporary industrial society came in the Condition of England novels of the 1840s and early 1850s. Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell, among others, tried to stimulate social reform through their depiction of social problems. Dickens’ Hard Times and Gaskell’s North and South both include an industrious town in which, using the words of Friedrich Engels; “barbarous indifference, hard egotism on one hand, and nameless misery on the other” (25) are an everyday event. Remarkably, both novels feature an intolerant masculine character; mill owner John Thornton in North and South and teacher Thomas Gradgrind in Hard Times, respectively. Both characters are well known in the literary field, since they have been topic of discussion among critics for centuries. Dickens’ Gradgrind even has his share in the modern day lexis of British English.
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