The 2nd Congress of Conspirators - Coketown, 1859
Again, the Congress gathered at the Pegasus' Arms. As you enter the establishment, you recognize Slackbridge and Sleary on the side of the Friends of Fancy, accompanied by the older woman whom you have seen at various parts of your journey. You now know her to be the one and only Mary Shelley, the last remaining figure of the radical Romantics. You also notice Choakumchild and Bounderby gathered with the Philosophes of Fact, and a young man seems to be corralling the Philosophes into unison as they prepare for the congressional debate between fact and fancy. Naturally, you assume the person leading the Philosophes to be none other than the mysterious George Boole.
You join your fellow comrades, but something makes you uncomfortable. Some of the members of your group seem to be a little too fired up - fueled by a kind of militancy that makes you question the overall mission of your research. There is an anger in the air that clouds any vision for pursuing happiness, and the thought occurs, "This is not what I signed up for!" Regardless you proceed to join your group, and as you begin to take part in the preparatory discussion with your faction, you recall your reflection on the profound, persuasive power of language. With this in mind you volunteer to play the role of "language analyst": Your job will be to investigate the literary and rhetorical devices employed by both sides of the debate. More specifically, you will be engaging in "Style & Rhetorical Analysis," and the team is depending on you to do your job effectively.
By the end of the debate, discouragement sets in because neither side came any closer to bridging gaps between the head and the heart. In fact, both sides simply retreated more into the extremities of their point of view. The Philosophes spent most of their time targeting the harmful, passionate impulses of Slackbridge and Harthouse, while the "Friends" pointed to the heartlessness of Bounderby, Choakumchild, and even Mr. Gradgrind.
The debate got real personal when Gradgrind's kids were dragged into it. Who was to blame for Tom Jr.'s development? Was it the temptations of fancy or the limitations of fact that made Tom Jr. the Whelp that he had become? What really caused Louisa's breakdown? The burden of Facts? Or, again, the temptations of Fancy? No consensus was found, and the debate poured into the streets of Coketown, impacting everyone who travelled its streets.
Another thought occurred to you: "Where was Dickens in all of this? Didn't he call the original 'Congress of Conspirators?'"
One thing became certain. It was time to seek an audience with either Mary Shelley or George Boole - depending on where your sympathies leaned after all the research you've conducted. To do so you needed to prove you've done the homework for such an audience: