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SBufo - Mr.Bounderby
[author: Sara Bufo - postdate: 2008-05-05]





The extract is taken from the 4th chapter of Charles Dickens's Hard Times.


After a first reading, the reader realizes that the text is a third person narration. Furthermore, the narrator is omniscient and intrusive and creates a dialogue  with the reader. As a matter of fact, chapter 4 starts with a question ("NOT being Mrs. Grundy, who was Mr. Bounderby?") and the reader is directly named by the narrator ("if the reader should prefer it").


The narrator introduces Mr Bounderby criticizing him and his bosom friend Mr. Gradgrin. As a matter of fact, they are both described as "perfectly devoid of sentiments".


Mr. Bounderby is then described through his social condition: he is rich and is "banker, merchant, manufacturer". Probably, the writer chose to enlist  jobs connected to money to criticize the Victorian society in an indirect way.


Mr.Bounderby, who represents the Victorian man, is described in an hyperbolic way. In both physical ("A man( ...)which seemed to have been stretched to make so much of him"; "A man with a great puffed head and forehead, swelled veins in his temples, and such a strained skin to his face that it seemed to hold his eyes open") and temperamental ("A man (...) inflated like a balloon"; "A man who could never sufficiently vaunt himself a self-made man.) description there is an exaggeration of tones, which creates a grotesque-effect. As a consequence, Mr.Bounderby seems ridiculous.


The anaphoric construction (a man...a man...) and the use of alliterations ("A man made out of a coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to make so much of him"; "such a strained skin") contribute to the grotesque-effect, which reaches its climax in the equation Bounderby = balloon and in the final sentence "The Bully of humility".


The narrator's point of view is evident: he doesn't illustrate any positive aspect of Bounderby, who seems repulsive. Every single feature is filtered in a negative way. Even his age, which should be an objective data, is an indirect critical evaluation of his physical appearance (he "looked older").