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Reading: Social Critique and the Imagining of Perversion as Satire in Hard Times

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Social Critique and the Imagining of Perversion as Satire in Hard Times

Author:

Yuanyuan Zhu

Northwestern Polytechnical University, China and Karlstad University, Sweden, CN
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Abstract

This essay studies how Charles Dickens’s Hard Times problematizes social issues by imagining a heteroglossia of perverted rhetoric. I argue that perversion, as a limited and distorted form of fancy/imagining, is rhetorically used in the novel as a device of satire against social ills perceived by the author(ial narrator). Characters’ perverted rhetoric at the intra-diegetic level—including that of Gradgrind, Bounderby, Bitzer and the union agitator Slackbridge—is used to satirize them. This is shown through their turning away from what is true or holding idolatrous beliefs according to the Bible. The narrator’s comments on wrongdoings imitate such perversion. The essay shows that forms of perversion are used both as an instrument for characterization and as a narrative strategy to make social critique.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.603
How to Cite: Zhu, Y., 2020. Social Critique and the Imagining of Perversion as Satire in Hard Times. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(4), pp.85–101. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.603
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Published on 22 Nov 2020.
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