Capitalism in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations: A Critique

Shihada, Isam M. (2017) Capitalism in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations: A Critique. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGLISH: LITERATURE, LANGUAGE & SKILLS.


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Charles Dickens witnessed the consequence of the Industrial Revolution on England’s social fabric and how it particularly affected the lives of the poor and downtrodden. For Victor Lippit, “the core dynamic of the capitalist system (2) is the accumulation process, a process in which a portion of the profits reaped through the sale of goods and services is reinvested, swelling the capital stock, incorporating new technologies in the process, and permitting larger sales and profits in the future.” (2007, p.150) However, Dickens was primarily concerned with the utilitarianism that represented the basis of a solid capitalist economy; if it is abused and misjudged, it turns the rich and privileged of the society into monsters, devouring the poor. Following from this, one of the grim repercussions of the capitalist system is the significant rise in the average living standards of the rich which has created an insurmountable difference between the rich and the poor Dickens regarded the capitalist system to be destructive, pernicious to humanity, and representing a mere return to the law of the jungle. In his novels such as; Great Expectations, he criticizes this system by revealing its negative facets such as child labor and workers’ exploitation. (Hollington, 2013; Hammond, 2015) The poor were exploited and dragged to work for long hours in miserable conditions for low wages. For example, children were hired in textile factories for their small hands because they could reach into the small places where fabric tended to get stuck, exposing themselves to danger. (Fitzgerald, 2000) The contents of the Second Report of the British Government’s Investigation into the Employment of Children in Factories and Mines shocked Dickens when he received a copy in 1843. The report graphically detailed horrific images of naked children chained to and pulling coal carts twice their size and, in some cases, buried so deep in mine shafts that they were unable to stand up straight. (Welch, 2001).

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: أ.د. عصام محمد ابراهيم شحادة
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 11:12
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 11:12

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