Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Charles Dickens might well have been speaking of his own nineteenth- century England instead of revolutionary France of the late eighteenth-century when he wrote:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
It can truly be said that England was being wracked by every sort of revolution that racks a nation except the physical sort that France experienced. Agriculture had been revolutionized by the Enclosure Laws, and the growth of industry has fed the mammoth displacement of farm labor. The church was under fire from several sides, with Puseyism on the one hand and the new evangelical faiths on the other. Reform of government was demanded by the militant Whiggism of the early part of the century, and later the Chartists and Young England demanded reform of the reformers. England's faith was jolted by the discovery of natural science in the early part of the century, and even more thoroughly wrenched by Darwin in the latter part. It was truly an age of extremes, an age of darkness in an age of light. It was an age of “isms,” with the great men of time choosing a system or founding one.
Fry, Carol L., "Social criticism in Charles Dickens' "Hard Times"" (1963). Student Work. 3195.
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