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The World of the Novel

Most novels are about ordinary people. They are not about the lives of great people or actions that change the destinies of states and empires. They are about the everyday life of common people.

Charles Dickens, in his novel, Hard Times, wrote about the terrible effects of industrialisation on people’s lives and characters. It captured the workers problems, the way they were over worked and under paid.

Hard Times


Coketown, is a fictitious industrial town in Charles Dickens’s novel. It is described as a grim place full of machinery, smoking chimneys, polluted rivers and buildings that all looked the same. In this town workers are known as ‘hands’, as if they had no identity other than as operators of machines. Dickens criticised the greed of the factory owners and the way they reduced human beings into simple instruments of production, for profits.

Dickens’s other novel Oliver Twist (1838) is the famous story a poor orphan who lived in a world of petty criminals and beggars. Oliver the hero of the novel was brought up in a cruel workhouse. In the story Oliver was finally adopted by a wealthy man and lived happily ever after.

Oliver Twist

Emile Zola’s Germinal also dealt with the life of a young miner in France. This story ends on a note of despair.


Emile Zola’s Germinal

Emile Zola

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