Dickens' strongest asset is writing from his social milieu. He wasn't upper class, nor was he lower class. He was right in the middle, where enjoyment wasn't a precursor for occupation because dinner tables didn't grow bread. The middle class were those who didn't have royal name or a bunch of land they could sell when things got tough, nor were they on the other end of the spectrum, living out of gutters exhibiting a complete lack of socially productive attributes and ambition. The middle class included everyone from doctors and lawyers to clerks and cobblers, all distinguished by laboring, either mental or physical. On page 151, "His most hated types, the people he believes to be responsible for all human ills, are kings, landowners, priests, nationalists, soldiers, scholars and peasants...All of them are archaic types, people who are governed by tradition and who eyes are turned towards the past--the opposite, therefore, of the rising bourgeois who has put his money on the future and see the past simply as a dead hand."
The middle class in Dickens' era is also described as the working class, though comparatively speaking, it's different than modern America's working class. In modern America, the working class means the blue-collar, paycheck to paycheck ruffians who lack the sophistication required for elevating themselves into the upper, more proficient class. According to Dickens, the middle class have potential, allowed upward mobility through applying their intellect to social institutions. In his Dickens' time, it would be reasonable to ask a working class person, "How can we improve society and business?" because they were the ones without the inheritances, without the royal names, who drove business and culture. (The upper class were royalty and those with extremely powerful family names; the middle/working class were physical and mental laborers; and the lower class were beggars and thieves, incapable or unwilling of social production). In current culture, since we lack royalty, our upper class are the richest capitalists, who consequently have the most influence. (This is why we're a Plutocracy, not a Democracy, but that's a side note.) Hence, asking the working class how to improve society and business is not in our current culture's agenda because working isn't associated with progress or potential, but mere operation and circulation of economic resources which the upper class modulates. All that simply means when Dickens talks about the working class, the reader needs to understand the nuance, or it can get confusing real fast.
What I find interesting is the last line of the previously quoted paragraph: "All of them are archaic types...simply as a dead hand." He's got a penchant against looking backward, which makes sense because he hates royalty most of all. Sicne royalty are those who rely on their family name (they're stagnant, therefore resisting the sands of time, therefore essentially negative), and those with huge swaths of land whom hire laborers to work it so hard and long they're indefinitely separated from the outside world. The "rising bourgeois puts his money on the future and sees the past as a dead hand" because the dead hand no longer has the ability to function, or be changed. The future is infinitely changeable because it hasn't even happened yet, and the time-repeated complaint the middle class has toward the upper class is they don't adapt or create realistically. The middle class adapts and creates because its survival is dependent upon it; the upper class has nothing at stake. It's in a bubble; impotent and dragging its fortune and fame around like a useless dead hand. Despite this, the (bad) argument is still made that wealth is useful because of what it can purchase. In response, class struggles are never about what money can buy, they're about the mentality and prejudices behind what people choose to do with the money they either have, don't have, or have the freedom to obtain. Mentality (read: intellect) always trumps wealth because wealth cannot manage itself; it's fully dependent upon mentality.
On page 154, Orwell speaks personally about Dickens: "One very striking thing about Dickens, especially considering the time he lived in, is his lack of vulgar nationalism. All people who have reached the point of becoming nations tend to despite foreigners, but there is not much doubt that the English-speaking races are the worst offenders." Onto page 156 regarding the same topic: "Dickens' lack of vulgar nationalism is in part the mark of a real largeness of mind, and in part results from his negative, rather unhelpful political attitude...He has no imperialist feeling, no discernible views on foreign politics, and is untouched by the military tradition." I don't know about you, but I read a certain sense of disapproval--possibly just disappointment--on Orwell's part, in regard to Dickens. Orwell certainly has his political opinions (read: agenda), and it seems that although Dickens' disinterest in everything Orwell is passionate about produces a positive effect--lack of national prejudices--it quite possibly insulated Dickens from better, more gritty fiction, I speculate Orwell thought.
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