The importance of Charles Dickens in Victorian social reform
Teachout, Jeffrey Frank
M.A. Thesis, Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, May (2006)
Of the works of all the great British authors of the 19th century who wrote either consciously, or unconsciously, on the social ills of the time few can reach the same level of eloquence as the novel, Hard Times, by Charles Dickens. Through a close examination of this work by Dickens; the “Preston Lockout” on which Hard Times is based; along with the influence of Thomas Carlyle, this thesis will attempt to show that Dickens was an influential participant in the social reforms of Victorian England. This influence in social reform manifested itself through Dickens’ novels; his magazines Household Words and All the Year Round; and his many speeches on social injustice. While he advocated social reform, he did not advocate specific social reform legislation. Instead, it was through his enormous popularity as the foremost British author of his day that the influence was wielded for the eventual betterment of the working classes in Victorian England. And finally, by using the works of Carlyle and other contemporary authors and comparing them to Hard Times, the reader will see the influence that his peers had in the development of the socio-political philosophy of Dickens.