Charles Dickens as Social Commentator and Critic. The Novel a Repository of Social Conscience.

“Did you know that Dickens and Marx were writing at the same time in the same city about the same thing, viz. about the consequences of capitalism without a conscience? We know Dickens’ vision through the narrative universe he created in stories like Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Hard Times, Great Expectations-and perhaps most dearly of all, A Christmas Carol.  I wonder if you have you ever thought of what A Christmas Carol is really all about? Or have you ever thought of it in relationship to Das Kapital, Marx’s magnum opus?

Both Dickens and Marx observed the aches and pains, the groaning and suffering of an industrializing Europe-of the dissonance between the Scrooges and the Tiny Tims of this world. Both could see that capitalism without a conscience was a cultural dead-end that would lead the masses into alienation from each other and the world around. The one did so as an artist, with his finger-to-the-wind, sensing and feeling the direction of his moment, mid-19th century England; the other did so as a political philosopher, with his brilliant mind at work on the social and economic reasons for the cracks in the capitalist dream that led to such alienation.

To say it very plainly: over the next century-and-a-half, scores of millions lost their lives over the misreading of the human condition and history at the heart of Marx’s critique, and the world as we know it has been radically and tragically affected by his misunderstanding the nature of vocation and therefore occupation, of what life is about and therefore what our lives are about. In the early 21st-century, there is almost global acknowledgement of this truth.

But when I was 20 I thought that Marx was very close to the truth. He had a passionate commitment to a just world; at least it seemed so to me in my young idealism. He had a comprehensive critique of the world, and of our place in it, and I desperately wanted that too. But as tempted as I was by him, eventually I was drawn even more so into a vision of the kingdom of God.”

Like every one of you, I wanted a way to see the world that made honest sense of the world. I yearned for the world to be the way it ought to be, and I knew that I needed a worldview that could make sense of what I saw and heard all around me, that could help me understand the hopes and heartaches of human beings that were increasingly part of my place in a pluralizing, globalizing world. In the end, Marx, and Mao were inadequate for that. In the end, their visions were lies of the most fundamental sort, offering a fiction about who we are and how we are to live. —Dr. Steven Garber, Capitalist with a Conscience,

Charles Dickens as Social Commentator and Critic

Dr Andrzej Diniejko, D. Litt. in English Literature and Culture, Warsaw University; Contributing Editor, Poland

Charles Dickens was not only the first great urban novelist in England, but also one of the most important social commentators who used fiction effectively to criticize economic, social, and moral abuses in the Victorian era. Dickens showed compassion and empathy towards the vulnerable and disadvantaged segments of English society, and contributed to several important social reforms. Dickens’s deep social commitment and awareness of social ills are derived from his traumatic childhood experiences when his father was imprisoned in the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison under the Insolvent Debtors Act of 1813, and he at the age of twelve worked in a shoe-blacking factory. In his adult life Dickens developed a strong social conscience, an ability to empathise with the victims of social and economic injustices. In a letter to his friend Wilkie Collins dated September 6, 1858, Dickens writes of the importance of social commitment:

“Everything that happens […] shows beyond mistake that you can’t shut out the world; that you are in it, to be of it; that you get yourself into a false position the moment you try to sever yourself from it; that you must mingle with it, and make the best of it, and make the best of yourself into the bargain” (Marlow, 132).

Dickens believed in the ethical and political potential of literature, and the novel in particular, and he treated his fiction as a springboard for debates about moral and social reform. In his novels of social analysis Dickens became an outspoken critic of unjust economic and social conditions. His deeply-felt social commentaries helped raise the collective awareness of the reading public. Dickens contributed significantly to the emergence of public opinion which was gaining an increasing influence on the decisions of the authorities. Indirectly, he contributed to a series of legal reforms, including the abolition of the inhumane imprisonment for debts, purification of the Magistrates’ courts, a better management of criminal prisons, and the restriction of the capital punishment.

The Novel a Repository of Social Conscience

Dickens was a great moralist and a perceptive social commentator. He was by no means completely under the influence of Carlyle, but he followed his teaching when he exposed the ills of Victorian society. Although his fiction was not politically subversive, he called to remedy acute social abuses. After Dickens’s death his social theory was long regarded as oversimplified, but as Jane Smiley pointed out in The Guardian, in recent years it has been reassessed:

For example, in the 1960s and 70s, the era of the new left, Dickens was considered well-meaning but naive; his “programme” was thought to be poorly worked out and inconsistent — not Marxist enough (though Marx was a great fan of Dickens). After Marxism went out of fashion, Dickens’s amorphous social critique came to seem more universally true because it was not programmatic but based on feelings of generosity and brotherhood combined with specific criticisms of practices common in England during his lifetime. [June 24, 2006]

Dickens was not the first novelist to draw attention of the reading public to the deprivation of the lower classes in England, but he was much more successful than his predecessors in exposing the ills of the industrial society including class division, poverty, bad sanitation, privilege and meritocracy and the experience of the metropolis. In common with many nineteenth-century authors, Dickens used the novel as a repository of social conscience. However, as Louis James argues:

Dickens is at once central and untypical in the ‘social novel’. A novelist universally associated with social issues, he was attacked for allowing his imagination to come between his writing and his subject, and his underlying attitudes can be evasive. In his fiction, most characters have a job; but Dickens rarely shows them at work. His novels are centrally about social relationships, yet his model for this would seem, as Cazamian noted, a perpetual Christmas of warm feelings, and the benevolent paternalism of Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol (1843). Even his explicit working-out of class and industrial issues in Hard Times (1854), based on a hasty visit to a factory strike in Preston, identified the factory problem not with economics but with the Utilitarian denial of human imagination, and juxtaposed the factories of Coketown against the bizarre world of Sleary’s travelling circus. [548]

However much radicals admired him, Dickens was never a radical author, but he was much more sensitive to social abuse than William Makepeace Thackeray, and responded readily to the concerns of the Condition of England Question.

The Condition of England

 One example of Dickens’s ideal world and two of his darker visions in Phiz’s illustrations, which Dickens closely supervised: (a) Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle’s. Two scenes in debtor’s prison: (b) Mr. Pickwick sits for his Portrait. (c) The Warden’s Room. [Click on these images for larger pictures.]

In The Pickwick Papers (1837) Dickens created a utopian and nostalgic vision of pre-Victorian and pre-industrial England prior to a rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. Although the novel was designed to be comic, it is not free of Dickens’s characteristic social commentary, which would become more pronounced in his later novels. The descriptions of Eatanswill (Chapter 13) and the grim Fleet prison (Chapter 41) anticipate some of Dickens’s preoccupations with the Condition of England, which are revealed in his subsequent novels dealing with the darker and more disgusting side of Victorian times. The following passage from The Pickwick Papers anticipates Dickens’s lifelong concern with the effects of industrialisation on English society.

It was quite dark when Mr. Pickwick roused himself sufficiently to look out of the window. The straggling cottages by the roadside, the dingy hue of every object visible, the murky atmosphere, the paths of cinders and brick-dust, the deep-red glow of furnace fires in the distance, the volumes of dense smoke issuing heavily forth from high toppling chimneys, blackening and obscuring everything around; the glare of distant lights, the ponderous wagons which toiled along the road, laden with clashing rods of iron, or piled with heavy goods — all betokened their rapid approach to the great working town of Birmingham.

As they rattled through the narrow thoroughfares leading to the heart of the turmoil, the sights and sounds of earnest occupation struck more forcibly on the senses. The streets were thronged with working people. The hum of labour resounded from every house; lights gleamed from the long casement windows in the attic storeys, and the whirl of wheels and noise of machinery shook the trembling walls. The fires, whose lurid, sullen light had been visible for miles, blazed fiercely up, in the great works and factories of the town. The din of hammers, the rushing of steam, and the heavy clanking of engines was the harsh music which arose from every quarter. [632-33]

Dickens’s later novels contain some of his most trenchant pieces of social commentary. Beginning with his second novel, Oliver Twist, through Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, Dombey and Son, Bleak House, Hard Times, and ending with Little Dorrit, Dickens totally rejected the claims of classical economics and showed his moral concern for the social well-being of the nation. His early novels expose isolated abuses and shortcomings of individual people, whereas his later novels contain a bitter diagnosis of the Condition of England.

Oliver Twist (1837-39), which represents a radical change in Dickens’s themes, is his first novel to carry a social commentary similar to that contained in the subsequent Condition-of-England novels. According to Louis Cazamian, “the success of Twist confirmed Dickens’ determination to write on social topics, and the inception of Chartism means that the burning social issue of the day was the problem of the working class ” (164). Dickens explores many social themes in Oliver Twist, but three are predominant: the abuses of the new Poor Law system, the evils of the criminal world in London and the victimisation of children. The critique of the Poor Law of 1834 and the administration of the workhouse is presented in the opening chapters of Oliver Twist. Dickens gives the most uncompromising critique of the Victorian workhouse, which was run according to a regime of prolonged hunger, physical punishment, humiliation and hypocrisy.

In contrast to Pickwick, in Oliver Twist Dickens shows England as a country of what Disraeli called “the two nations”: the rich and privileged and the poor living in abject and inhumane conditions of deprivation, misery and humiliation. Many characters of Oliver Twist function as allegories. Dickens challenges the popular Victorian beliefs that some people are more prone to vice than others. Like Frances Trollope, Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell, Dickens was fully aware of the victimisation of women in Victorian society. Nancy is forced into prostitution by poverty, hunger and life in a corrupt environment. John Bayley points out that

Nancy’s living is the living of England, a nightmare society in which drudgery is endless and stupefying, in which the natural affections are warped, and the dignity of man appears only in resolution and violence. It is a more disquieting picture than the carefully and methodically symbolized social panoramas of Bleak House, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend. [61]

In Oliver Twist Dickens presents a portrait of the macabre childhood of a considerable number of Victorian orphans. The orphans are underfed, and for a meal they are given a single scoop of gruel. Oliver, one of the oppressed children, dares to ask for more gruel and is severely punished.

The evening arrived; the boys took their places. The master, in his cook’s uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauper assistants ranged themselves behind him; the gruel was served out; and a long grace was said over the short commons. The gruel disappeared; the boys whispered each other, and winked at Oliver; while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity: ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’ [15]

This scene, which has become “the most familiar incident in any English novel” (Sanders, 412), strongly appealed to the Victorian conscience. Dickens challenged the Victorian idea of charity for the so-called “deserving poor”. He showed persuasively that the workhouse was a failed attempt to solve the problem of poverty and unwanted children.

Oliver Twist can be read as a textbook of Victorian child abuse and a social document about early Victorian slum life. When Oliver goes with Sowerberry to fetch the body of a woman dead of starvation, he can see an appalling view of derelict slum houses.

Some houses which had become insecure from age and decay, were prevented from falling into the street, by huge beams of wood reared against the walls, and firmly planted in the road; but even these crazy dens seemed to have been selected as the nightly haunts of some houseless wretches, for many of the rough boards which supplied the place of door and window, were wrenched from their position, to afford an aperture wide enough for the passage of a human body. The kennel was stagnant and filthy. The very rats, which here and there lay putrefying in its rottenness, were hideous with famine. (Ch. 5, 44)

Dickens succeeded in making Victorian public opinion more aware of the conditions of the poor. He depicted persuasively the disorder, squalor, blight, decay, and the human misery of a modern industrial city. Although the initial condition of England discourse changes into a sentimental moral fable on the subsequent pages, Oliver Twist is an important manifestation of Victorian social conscience.

The motif of child abuse in the context the Victorian education system is continued in Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9). The novel contains a serious social commentary on the conditions of schools where unwanted children were maltreated and starved. Nicholas is sent to Dotheboys Hall, a school run by the cruel and abusive headmaster Wackford Squeers.

Pale and haggard faces, lank and bony figures, children with the countenances of old men, deformities with irons upon their limbs, boys of stunted growth, and others whose long meagre legs would hardly bear their stooping bodies, all crowded on the view together; there were the bleared eye, the hare-lip, the crooked foot, and every ugliness or distortion that told of unnatural aversion conceived by parents for their offspring, or of young lives which, from the earliest dawn of infancy, had been one horrible endurance of cruelty and neglect. There were little faces which should have been handsome, darkened with the scowl of sullen, dogged suffering; there was childhood with the light of its eye quenched, its beauty gone, and its helplessness alone remaining; there were viciousfaced boys, brooding, with leaden eyes, like malefactors in a jail; and there were young creatures on whom the sins of their frail parents had descended, weeping even for the mercenary nurses they had known, and lonesome even in their loneliness. With every kindly sympathy and affection blasted in its birth, with every young and healthy feeling flogged and starved down, with every revengeful passion that can fester in swollen hearts, eating its evil way to their core in silence, what an incipient Hell was breeding here! [88]

The novel directs this ironical attack at Victorian public opinion, which was either unaware or condoned such treatment of poor children. Dickens was critical about the Victorian education system, which is reflected not only in Nicholas Nickleby, Hard Times and Our Mutual Friend, but also in his journalism and public speeches. As a boy he was shocked to read reports about the cheap boarding schools in the North. In Nicholas Nickleby Dickens describes abusive practices in Yorkshire boarding schools. However, Dickens does not only criticise the malicious education system, but he is primarily concerned with the fates of these unfortunate children who are representatives of the most vulnerable portion of the society.

Dickens’s novella, A Christmas Carol (1843), is an anti-Malthusian tale. The author shows his disgust with the Malthusian principle of uncontrolled population growth. Scrooge speaks about a charity collector like Malthus, who proposed abolition of poor laws:

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”[21]

A Christmas Carol was Dickens’s response to the Children’s Employment Commission Report on the miseries suffered by many poor children. Dickens exposed suggestively selfishness and greed as the dominant features of his England. He described almost in a documentary manner Christmas celebrated by the working poor of early-Victorian England.

Although Dickens’s early works implied faith in the new commercial middle class as opposed to the old aristocracy, the writer saw the discrepancy between the ideas and practice of this new class and the principles of morality and ethic. As a social commentator, Dickens saw the need for the reform of English society; he urged that the wealthy and privileged exhibit a greater humanitarianism towards the poor and the vulnerable.

During the 1850s Dickens’s interests shifted gradually from the examination of individual social ills to the examination of the state of society, particularly its laws, education, industrial relations, the terrible conditions of the poor. Increasingly, apart from fictional plots, his novels contained a considerable amount of social commentary similar to Henry Mayhew’s nonfictional narratives about the London poor.

 Although Bleak House (1852-53) is often called England’s first authentic contribution to modern detective fiction, it also sharply indicts the inequities in Victorian society. Dickens’s finest novel, although not his most popular, it exposes the abuses of the court of Chancery and administrative incompetence. For Dickens, the Court of Chancery became synonymous with the faulty law system, expensive court fees, bureaucratic practices, technicality, delay and inconclusiveness of judgments. Apart from the critique of the Chancery courts, Dickens also criticises slum housing, overcrowded urban graveyards, neglect of contagious diseases, electoral corruption, preachers; class divisions, and neglect of the educational needs of the poor. The book opens with the famous description of London in fog.

“Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.” [3]

This fog is also very symbolic. It stands for institutional oppression which penetrates into every segment of Victorian society. Dickens sees London as a place of human misery, and the world he perceives is governed by greed and money. Bleak House also carries a warning against the excesses of the laisez-faire economy. The descriptions of streets, buildings and people are realistic and reflect the living conditions of England in the mid-19th century. The colours in the novel are predominantly grey and black, and the fog becomes one of the central symbols of the novel.

Bleak House provides not only a satirical look at the legal system in England, which often destroys the lives of innocent people, but also offers a vast panorama of Victorian England, which includes the foggy streets of London, filthy slums, the maze of the Inns of Court and also the peaceful countryside, with characters ranging from murderous villains, a “fallen woman” (Lady Deadlock) to virtuous girls and members of landed aristocracy, all of whom are affected by the flaws of the torturous Victorian judiciary system. The atmosphere, places and events are described with great authenticity. In this view Bleak House is one of the most important novels about the condition of Victorian society. As Terry Eagleton has noted, “Dickens sees his society as rotting, unravelling, so freighted with meaningless matter that it is sinking back gradually into some primeval slime ” (40).

Bleak House does not merely refer to Mr. Jarndyce’s house but also to the Condition of England, which is represented as a “ gloomy edifice” and whose judicial system must be reformed if England wants to continue as a modern nation. Dickens describes emphatically urban poverty by the example of the slum street,where poor Jo lives, in a manner similar to the Sanitary Reports. The moral corruption of Chancery is juxtaposed with the physical decay of the slums:

Jo lives — that is to say, Jo has not yet died – in a ruinous place known to the like of him by the name of Tom-all-Alone’s. It is a black, dilapidated street, avoided by all decent people, where the crazy houses were seized upon, when their decay was far advanced, by some bold vagrants who after establishing their own possession took to letting them out in lodgings. Now, these tumbling tenements contain, by night, a swarm of misery. As on the ruined human wretch vermin parasites appear, so these ruined shelters have bred a crowd of foul existence that crawls in and out of gaps in walls and boards; and coils itself to sleep, in maggot numbers, where the rain drips in; and comes and goes, fetching and carrying fever and sowing more evil in its every footprint than Lord Coodle, and Sir Thomas Doodle, and the Duke of Foodle, and all the fine gentlemen in office, down to Zoodle, shall set right in five hundred years – though born expressly to do it. Twice lately there has been a crash and a cloud of dust, like the springing of a mine, in Tom-all-Alone’s; and each time a house has fallen. These accidents have made a paragraph in the newspapers and have filled a bed or two in the nearest hospital. The gaps remain, and there are not unpopular lodgings among the rubbish. As several more houses are nearly ready to go, the next crash in Tom- all-Alone’s may be expected to be a good one. [Ch. 16, 182-183]

Dickens’s description of Tom-All-Alone’s, a rookery in St Giles, east of Charing Cross Road, can be read both as historical evidence and a powerful literary symbol of the Condition of England, where uncontrolled industrialisation contributed, in Dickens’s opinion, to misery, decay and disease. Likewise, Chancery stands as a bitter metaphor of moral corruption which pervades the upper classes.

The social consequences of industrialisation and urbanisation are perhaps most persuasively depicted in Hard Times (1854), which Dickens wrote at the prompting of urgent external circumstances. Hard Times is more than any other of his Condition-of-England novels influenced by Carlyle’s social criticism. It deals with a number of social issues: industrial relations, education for the poor, class division and the right of common people to amusement. It also draws on contemporary concern with reforming divorce laws. Cazamian sees Dickens in Hard Times as an “intermediary link between the social thought of Carlyle and Ruskin.” (173) Raymond Williams described Hard Times as “a thorough-going and creative examination of the dominant philosophy of industrialism — of the hardness that Mrs Gaskell saw as little more than a misunderstanding, which might be patiently broken down” (93). Similarly, in his study, “The Rhetoric of Hard Times”, David Lodge wrote:

“On every page Hard Times manifests its identity as a polemical work, a critique of mid-Victorian industrial society dominated by materialism, acquisitiveness, and ruthlessly competitive capitalist economics. To Dickens, at the time of writing Hard Times, these things were represented most articulately, persuasively, (and therefore dangerously) by the Utilitarians.” [86]

Dickens, like Thomas Carlyle and many other contemporary intellectuals, criticised Utilitarianism, although they confused utilitarian ethics with laissez-faire industrial capitalism, which, like Utilitarianism, was based on the self-interest principle.

In Hard Times Dickens created a Condition-of-England novel, which directly engaged with contemporary and social issues. The volume edition of the novel bore the subtitle: “For these Times”, which referred to Carlyle’s essay of 1829 “Signs of the Times” (text). As Michael Goldberg has pointed out, “Carlyle remained a hero to Dickens throughout his life…” (2), and his critique of Utilitarianism bears a strong affinity with Carlyle’s. Carlyle exposed the dangers of a mechanistic and inhuman system which deprived people of such human qualities as emotion, affection and imagination. Dickens echoes many of Carlyle’s arguments against the power of social machinery and materialist consciousness. However, contrary to Carlyle, Dickens shows that the positive aspects of human nature are not easily destroyed. Fancy, imagination, compassion and hope do not disappear completely. They are preserved in such characters as Sissy, Rachael and Sleary. Even Mr. Gradgrind revealed eventually some traces of humanness. Ultimately, Dickens did not take up Carlyle’s favourite theme of the aristocratic hero as the saviour of a disintegrating society.

Coketown, the city of Fact, foreshadows the emergence of a monstrous mass urban society based on rationalism, anonymity, dehumanisation. The dominant feature of the town is its inherent ugliness. Its inhabitants lack individuality and are the product of an inhuman, materialistic society.

It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage. It was a town of machinery and tall chimneys, out of which interminable serpents of smoke trailed themselves for ever and ever, and never got uncoiled. It had a black canal in it, and a river that ran purple with ill-smelling dye, and vast piles of building full of windows where there was a rattling and a trembling all day long, and where the piston of the steamengine worked monotonously up and down like the head of an elephant a state of melancholy madness. It contained several large streets all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and to-morrow, and every year the counterpart of the last and the next. [Ch. V,28]

In Hard Times human relationships are contaminated by economics. The principles of the ‘dismal science’ led to the formation of a selfish and atomistic society. The social commentary of Hard Times is quite clear. Dickens is concerned with the conditions of the urban labourers and the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism. He exposes the exploitation of the working class by unfeeling industrialists and the damaging consequences of propagating factual knowledge (statistics) at the expense of feeling and imagination. However, although Dickens is critical about Utilitarianism, he cannot find a better way of safeguarding social justice than through ethical means.“In place of Utilitarianism, Dickens can offer only good-heartedness, individual charity, and Sleary’s horse-riding; like other writers on the Condition of England Question, he was better equipped to examine the symptoms of the disease than to suggest a possible cure” (Wheeler, 81).

Hard Times proves that fancy is essential for human happiness, and in this aspect it is one of the best morally uplifting novels. Dickens avoided propagating employer paternalism in the manner of Disraeli, Charlotte Brontë and Gaskell, and strongly opposed commodification of labour in Victorian England. As John R. Harrison has pointed out:

“The target of Dickens’s criticism, however, was not Bentham’s Utilitarianism, nor Malthusian theories of population, nor Smith’s free-market economics, but the crude utilitarianism derived from such ideas by Benthamite Philosophical Radicals, which tended to dominate social, political, and economic thinking and policy at the time the novel was written. The Gradgrind / Bounderby philosophy is that the Coketown “ Hands” are commodities, “something” to be worked so much and paid so much, to be “infallibly settled” by “laws of supply and demand,” something that increased in number by a certain “ rate of percentage” with accompanying percentages of crime and pauperism; in fact, “something wholesale, of which vast fortunes were made&rdquo.” [116]

Hard Times was in fact an attack on the Manchester School of economics, which supported laissez-faire and promoted a distorted view of Bentham’s ethics. The novel has been criticised for not offering specific remedies for the Condition-of-England problems it addresses. It is debatable whether solutions to social problems are to be sought in fiction, but nevertheless, Dickens’s novel anticipated the future debates concerning anti-pollution legislation, intelligent town-planning, health and safety measures in factories and a humane education system.


Dickens as a social commentator exerted a profound influence on later novelists committed to social analysis. Some of his concerns with the Condition-of-England Question were further dealt with in the novels of Charles Kingsley, George Eliot, George Gissing, George Orwell, and recently in the postmodern novels of Martin Amis and Zadie Smith.


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