The authors Charles Dickens and Martin Amis have many stylistic differences. Even though they lived in different times, with diverse ideas about life, these two authors are still able to have a few stylistic similarities. Charles Dickens, author of the novel, “Hard Times” in the 19th century, focuses on the reality of life, and how many people seem to forget about “living” and concentrate too much on work. His ideas are straightforward, and dont pay much attention to “fancy”. The author of “Times Arrow”, Martin Amis, is a contemporary novelist. It was written in 1991, which makes it easier for the reader to relate to. The novel is written from the point of view of the main character’s soul, and therefore the story seems to be told backwards. Both Charles Dickens and Martin Amis have admirable writing styles that attract readers both young and old.
Dickens’ use of rhetorical devices is exceptional in “Hard Times”, and Amis uses this stylistic feature equally skillfully in “Time’s Arrow”. Rhetoric devices are a way for the narrator to speak to the reader. This is particularly effective device in each novel, since it attracts the reader to the novel, and gives the reader a sense of “belonging” to the story. In “Hard Times”, the narrator says of M’Choakumchild, “If he had only learned a little less, how infinetely better he might have taught much more” (15). Through this, we can see that the narrator is inviting the reader to be a part of the novel. He is also trying to get the reader to express an opinion about M’Choakumchild – does the reader agree with the narrator, or disagree? The narrator in “Time’s Arrow” tells the reader that, “We sat around the fire, as you do ” (169). For the last time in the novel, the narrator invites the reader to experience the story with him. By attracting the reader, it leaves the reader with a sense of fulfillment, and a sense of being part of the storyline for the last time.
Although rhetorical devices add a remarkable touch to each novel, characterization is also used by both authors, although each writer adds his own personal touch. The characters in each novel are extremely diverse, and it is clear the each writer has his own ideas and opinions about people. When Sissy and Jupe are introduced in “Hard Times”, we see Dicken’s use of contrasting clearly. “whereas the girl was dark eyed and dark haired, that she seemed to receive a deeper and more lustrous color from the sun the boy was so light eyed and light haired that the self-same rays appeared to draw out of him what little color he ever possessed” (12). Dickens uses color to exemplify characterization. Sissy’s warm colors suggest that she is good-hearted and loving, while Blitzer is paler, which implies that he is colder, and in this case, more factual. The main character in “Times Arrow” changes his name several times throughout the novel. The first time the reader reads about this is when he changes it from Tod Friendly to John Young. The narrator expresses this to the reader with exaggeration. “Not ‘Tod’, not any longer.. the name on the envelopes under the lamp table: they said John Young, John Young” (76). He repeats this name, in order for the reader to realize that it is the same character, only with a different name, and possibly a different personality. Amis never introduces characters, the reader simply has to follow the storyline, and realize that a new character has come along.
Along with characterization, Dickens and Amis both use allusion as an effective stylistic technique. In Hard Times, “No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with the crumbled horn who tossed the dog, who worried the cat, who killed thae rat, wh ate the malt, or with that yet more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb” (16). This is an allusion to a famous children’s nursery rhyme, one that all children learn when they are little. Dickens uses allusion to illustrate that these characters have no imagination, that it’s all about fact to them. In “Times Arrow”, Amis uses an allusion to Hitler, which makes the reader relate the novel more to World War II. “The baby is very weak, and the doctors have done all they can. The casket was about 15′ by 20′” (144). It is mentioned a number of times in the novel that women have miscarriages, although it is never said directly. Historically, Hitler’s mother had a few miscarriages, and this relates to the story.
Metaphors and similes are used in both novels as stylistic techniques. In “Hard Times”, there are many references to machinery. “Thomas did not look at him, but gave himself up to taken home like a machine” (19). This suggests that Tom is not human because of the constant teaching of fact. Close to the end of “Times Arrow”, Odilo’s father is introduced. “Father is a sallow-fleshed skeleton” (170). The narrator is comparing the father to a skeleton here. This isn’t a very positive comparison, and it leads the reader to linger on that thought for a moment. Is is possible that the father is not “ideal” and that he is not a perfect parent.
Comic relief is an exceptional technique, used by both authors in order to lighten a serious area of the novel. Dickens uses Mrs. Gradgrind as an effective way to add comic relief to “Hard Times”. “‘Go and be somethingological directly'” (24). The reader knows that she is not a naturally comical person, and that makes it even funnier. Mrs. Gradgrind is simply imitating her husband, since she isn’t a factual person, but thinks that she should honor her husbands ideas. When the narrator arrives in New York, he becomes a comical charater. “This business with yellow cabs They’re always there when you need one” (74). We all know that this isn’t true! Although it is not comical to the narrator, it is to the reader. Not being able to catch a cab in New York has almost become a part of New York’s attraction, and when the narrator says that you can always find one, the reader can’t help but laugh.
Contrasting comic relief, irony is equally effective, used by both authors. “No Loo, I wouldn’t hurt you” (56). This is said to Louisa in “Hard Times”. It is ironic, because her brother, the person telling her this, has actuallt hurt her so many times already. In “Times Arrow”, irony is used mnay times. It adds to the effect of World War II. “There was a new smell in the air. The sweet smell” (127). The reader realizes that this is ironic, because the supposed sweet smell that he is referring to, is actually the smell of human flesh in the concentration camps.
Most novels use foreshadowing as a writing technique, and Dickens and Amis are outstanding in doing this. When Sissy leaves the people who love her – the people of the circus – she is given some last advice. ” they can’t be alwayth a working, nor can they be alwayth a learning. Make the betht of it, not the wurtht” (47). This is foreshadowing that Sissy will in fact make the best of her life. She is told that you need a balance in your life, and basically that you need the best of both worlds. Since somebody that obviously cares about her gives her this advice, the reader knows that she will make the best of her life. In “Times Arrow” foreshadowing also plays a large role. “The world is going to start making sense” (124). This foreshadows that things will simply get worse, and not better, because the soul is seeing things backwards. After all, the world doesn’t make sense.
Dickens and Amis use personification, in order to liven up each novel. In “Hard Times”, time is personified repeatedly. “Time worked away Time passed Thomas on in the mill Time, sticking to him” (94). Dickens does this, in order to make the reader realize that even though time passes, it is still very much “alive” and around us. In “Times Arrow”, “the railway tracks are in their arrested journey” (170). The narrator gives the railway tracks a sense of humanity here. It may suggest that the little things we tend to overlook, are in fact alive, and on a journey of their own. We don’t often stop and look around to observe whats alive, and what’s really going on in the world. Amis challenges the reader to do just that by using personification.