Dear colleges, to sum up Mr Blackpool in two words with all seriousness, is to say that he is a “tragedy” and a “born loser”. From the many experiences Stephen Blackpool undergoes, I only make mention of the following: he is stuck in an unfortunate marriage, he is a failure at work, he is bad judge and he dies after falling into a mine. Dickens introduces Blackpool into the novel in the tenth chapter. He is one of those thousands of workers living in Coketown. Though only forty years old he is, as Dickens says, already an old man. He is seen outside waiting outside the works for his friend, Rachael, he likes to walk her home despite the gossiping neighbors, after which he makes his way to his lodgings. When he arrives there, he is surprised by the presence of his wife “a disabled, drunken creature who constantly leaves him and is unfaithful to him.Order now
This former latter introduced sub-plot of the relationship between Rachael and Stephen can be a device used by Dickens in order to add interest to the novel. In addition Dickens uses few other techniques pertaining to the language aspects. He offers Blackpool a dialect, which is filled with elongated vowel sounds e.g. “Nay” instead of “No”, “doon”, “among”, “droonken”. It definitely can be said that the “oo” morpheme does create distinctiveness to his speech from all the other characters in the novel.
The fact that Blackpool’s language is written phonetically, gives words more depth, and in some respects highlights his social class in the Victorian society i.e. a worker. His vocabulary is down to earth and can be described as god-fearing e.g. “God forbid”. This might be Dickens attempt to suggest that Blackpool is an honest and religious person. In the next chapter, which is eleven, Stephen seeks an interview with Bounderby, his employer, to ask advice on the question of marriage and divorce. Bounderby makes it clear to Blackpool that there is, as the chapter heading suggest no way out of his situation.
The plot further thickens for Stephen at a union meeting; he is disciplined for refusing to agree to the negotiating terms formulated by the United Aggregate Tribunal. Here Dickens emphasizes the ranting oratory of Slakbridge, the union representative, and contrasts it with the submissive, humble pleas of Stephen to be allowed to work despite his inability to agree with the policy. But His workmates refuse to work with him, and he cannot bring himself to seek solace from Rachael. Once again Blackpool’s role as martyr is illustrated here, i.e. a victim at work and this cries out for sympathy from the reader.
Stephen has another meeting but unlike last one, which was between Men and brothers this time it is between Men and masters. As at their last meeting, Stephen again finds Bounderby eating. He is now in the company of his wife, Louisa, and her brother Tom and Hearthouse. Bounderby demands that Blackpool tell them of his dealings with the union – or Combination as he calls it. Blackpool is not bullied into volunteering opinions about the union; on the contrary, he firmly defends the sincerity of most of its members. Stephen
does not, in fact, address his remarks to Bounderby but to Louisa, in whose face he seems to find some sympathy. This link between Louisa from one strand of the story and Stephen from another is what we call, my dear colleagues a plotting device. For it is through that link that Tom can become connected with Blackpool and thus carry his own plans forward! During this meeting, Bounderby asks him to explain what the workers have to complain about. Stephen points out that there seems no purpose in their lives. They are born to work in terrible conditions, and then just to die. They are not encouraged to have any hopes or aspirations. In anger, Bounderby says he will crush any threat of rebellion by transporting Slackbridge and his kind as convicts. Blackpool replies that this kind of action will not solve the underlying problems. He insists that both parties must be prepared to meet, to compromise and thus reach agreement. They must not maintain their extreme, opposing positions. For this speech, Stephen is sacked on the spot.