Class Struggle in Hard Times
Hard Times displays the struggles of two different classes. The working class seems to have an inherent nobility that escapes the servitude of their station. In Rachael, such characteristics are seen in continual defense of morality. The wealthy, on the other hand, appear at loss at the true nature of happiness, instead grasping at surface beliefs to substitute their lack of contentment. Mrs. Gradgrind completes the picture by allowing her husband's system of Fact yet unable to live or appreciate it. Minor characters in Hard Times support Dickens' overall perception of class as personified by the leading figures.
In the novel, Rachael exemplifies the nobility of the working poor. Unlike most of the other characters, Rachael appears to be completely altruistic, willing to suffer the injustices of her situation. Despite the harshness of everyday life in the industrial sector of Coketown, she survives with a strong spirit and a righteous soul.
In addition, her hard working behavior directly contrasts with the lazy attitude of the upper classes, as seen in Tom and his extravagances. Meanwhile, Rachael also compliments the nobility of Stephan Blackpool. Dickens does not present Rachael's perspective in novel, instead presenting her character through the eyes of Stephan, emphasizing her role as a technique to build his personality. It is through Stephan's inability to be with Rachael that the reader is shown the tragedy of the lower class. Rachael represents the haven of domestic contentment that Stephan longs for yet cannot reach because he does not have the money to do so, while the monstrous Stephan's wife characterizes his grim reality. Furthermore, it is only the love between Stephan and Rachael that remains true, untainted by the corruption of impropriety, further separating the lower class from the affairs of the upper. In...