‘The Children of Dynmouth’ by William Trevor, written in 1970 about a small seaside town, is based upon his own childhood home. The opening introduces a story of murder and intrigue. The novel, which I am comparing it with, is ‘Hard Times’ be Charles Dickens written in 1854. This introduces us to Coketown, a newly industrialised town based upon a visit to Preston. Both novels although distinctive in style and purpose, are very similar in the portrayal of unfulfilled lives.
Coketown is both a fictional and functional town, a newly industrialised place with one sole purpose, to make money through production of luxury threads for the country’s wealthiest. The lack of imagination and creativity is due to the political system, which denies the residents the chance to develop individually and does not allow the soul to be expressed. The people seem imprisoned within the town ‘like a bell in a birdcage’, life is their work and their work is life.
On the other hand, Dynmouth is a dull and monotonous town in which nothing of any great relevance or importance happens, seeming as though it is sidelined from history-shaping events. It is only Dynmouth’s mysterious past, which brings the story alive. The town, the description of which lacks any kind of modification is a tedious and dying place and it seems only to attract the elderly seeking refuge on day trips.
With this in mind Dynmouth although a cosy little place, does not appear to have a very certain future. In many ways Dynmouth and Coketown seem very different. On one hand Dynmouth has retained its past when it was once both a prominent and prosperous place, with only ageing amusements to show for it and in dire need of life and spirit seeming little more than a watering place.
Whereas on the other hand the recently developed Coketown, part of the movements of history, has both the prominence and prosperity which Dynmouth lacks. Although there are some very clear differences, there are also an equal amount of similarities. The people living in both these places seem unhappy in their humdrum lives and feel unfulfilled. Their repetitive lives fail to capture their imaginations. Neither town appears to have a soul.