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Title: "Fairy Palaces" and "Wonderful Toys": Machine Dreams in 'Household Words'
Contributor(s): Waters, Catherine Mary (author)
Publication Date: 2008
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Abstract: In the second serial installment of 'Hard Times', published as the leader in 'Household Words' on 8 April 1854, Dickens "strike[s] the key-note" with his memorable description of Coketown... The passage has become a 'locus classicus' amongst nineteenth,century accounts of the blighting effects of the factory system. Coketown's dismal aspect is imaginatively evoked through its unexpected likeness to the spectacular shows of London: "savages," snakes, elephants and other exotic creatures could all be seen on exhibition in the metropolis at mid-century. While their similarity to an oriental menagerie appears to endow the factories and their incessant engines with animal life, the factory workers themselves resemble automata, manifesting the repetitive, uniform movements of the machinery they operate. The irony in Dickens's fanciful description of such a monument to "fact" is reinforced in the tenth chapter, where the narrator remarks the lights in the "great factories" looking "when they were illuminated, like Fairy palaces - or the travellers by express, train said so" (240).
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Dickens Quarterly, 25(4), p. 215-231
Publisher: Dickens Society
Place of Publication: Amherst, Massachusetts
ISSN: 0742-5473
Field of Research (FOR): 200503 British and Irish Literature
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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