Coketown di Charles Dickens analisi del testo

Coketown di Charles Dickens analisi del testo

“COKETOWN” is a passage taken from “Hard times “ a novel written by Charles Dickens.
It’s centred on the description of the industrial centre of coke town, an imaginary industrial city town in
the north of England ,similar to Preston, where the whole story is set ,and where Mr Gradgrind ,the

headmaster of the local school and his friend Mr Bounderby are walking .It’s notable that the town is
named after what it produces, coke, a hard grey fuel used for machines.This text provides an appropriate
backdrop to Dickens’s withering critique of industrial society.It can be divided in 4th paragraphs :
1st paragraph: (line 1-3) has the function of introduce the reader to the setting. In particular, the
paragraph features 2 different characters , Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bounderby that are known as two
extremely rational men who follow the logic of puritanism and utilitarianism. The city they’re walking in
seems to perfectly fit their mentalities, since it is presented to the reader as “a triumph of fact, (that had)
no greater taint of fancy in it than Mrs. Gradgrind herself”.
2nd paragraph: in which Dickens describes the town through the use of senses; by mentioning colours
the narrator marks the town with a negative connotation. The town is depicted by different colours : the
red brick were all blackened by smoke and ashes And now are painted of “innatural red and black”,
“black canal”, “the river that ran purple ” this reminds us to an atmosphere of pollution due to the tall
chimneys and machinery that work continuously “for ever and ever”. The description features a series of
words linked to industrialization and urbanization, such as “town”, “machinery”, “chimney”, “canal”, or
“piston of the steam engine”, which is the icon of the Industrial Revolution. The narrator does some
similes and metaphors with this world to link machine to the wild and Nature: words such as “savage”,
“serpents”, “river”, “elephant” create a strong contrast with the previous ones. The purpose of such
lexical choice may be to underline the distance between the Man and Nature. Also, the reader may
single out one similarity between Coke town and a wild forest: both Industrialization in Coke town and
Nature aren’t under man’s control. The Industrial Revolution seems to have taken over the man.

3rd paragraph: introduces to us the main theme of the passage: the monotony of the life during
industrialism: It is provided by the use of language: the frequent use of repetition like the worlds “ fact” or
“ same” makes the city and its people look flattened. In this town all streets, either large or small, looked
the same; there is no difference between a jail, an hospital and a town-hall, all the buildings are square,
made of red bricks painted black and white, which gives a sense of monotony. In Coke town people are
alienated, they all live in the same houses, walk the same streets at the same time, work in the same
place and do the same things everyday. According to the narrator’s description, the inhabitants’
expression and way of living communicate the monotony and sadness of life in this town. People have
lost their personality and individuality . The alienation is a significant and worrying message of the
existence of a psychological risk that workers may suffer. The city of Coke town was based on “facts”, or
rather on production. More and more was being produced and had to be produced. Everything had a
price and what didn’t have it didn’t have to exist.
4th paragraph: The narrator is a third person, omniscient and obtrusive one, indeed he stops the
narration in order to make personal comments, like in line 35 he introduces the critics that the upper
classes make towards the poor, who are accused of always getting drunk and taking opium, eating prime
parts of meat, fresh butter, mocha coffee and live upon the best. Dickens pretends to agree with Mr
Gardgrind and his friend, that the poor are ungrateful and live in good conditions but it is obvious that his
criticism is actually aimed at the rich and demonstrates this by exaggerating too much the diet and
lifestyle of the poor.
IN GENERAL: The narrator focuses on the indifference and contempt of the upper class towards the
lower one, at the19th line he gives to us an example of a lady that couldn’t even bear to hear the place
mentioned . This is an example of Victorian compromise, which shows a hypocrite and superficial
attitude of rich people : the life of those who bought the goods becomes more comfortable and elegant,
while Coke town’s people suffer from starvation. Dickens anticipates utilitarianism and materialism, two
typical characteristics of the Victorian mind-set, people become less important than what they produce.


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