The Friends of Fancy Dossier
When you return to your room at the Travellers' Coffee House, you find a letter has been left on the bedside table with your name inscribed with an elegant cursve signature. Inside you find the following letter:
18 April 1859
Dear Fellow Friend of the Cause,
Welcome to the revolution. As Engels and others have observed the happiness of humanity can only come in the form of history's most important conflict - one between the common man and the masters; between freedom and control; between passion and reason - or perhaps it's best stated as being a conflict between the Possibilities of Fancy and the Depotism of Fact.
The issue at stake is simple: The Philosophes of Fact are trying to eliminate the influence of Fancy in all areas of human life. The idea is to extinguish any impulse we might have to defy reason and traditional values in the name of seeking to imagine the world in a different way. They think such romantic notions are dangerous, but I'll tell you what's dangerous, and that's the conditions of the working class in Coketown. If Stephen Blackpool's experience tells us anything it's the fact that Coketown is living (or should I say dying) proof that there is no choice but to imagine the world differently! Something must change, and the rival regulators of fact fear it because they know the transformation is inevitable. They seek to eliminate our influence by reducing all questions of wonder, emotion, or passion to the dictates logic and calculable data, and they're making "progress" - just look around. When was the last time you saw signs of Nature? Where are the trees, the blues skies, the scent of flowers, the sunsets? Where is the celebration of creativity and individuality in the schoolhouses? What kind of impact does the absence of such nourishment have on the human psyche? One's environment plays a crucial, generative role in the journey towards realizing happiness in life, and the environment of Coketown is sick to say the least. Even the machines are more organic and life-like than the people, while Coketown's inhabitants give the impression of being something less than living - like inanimate products fresh of the production line, ready to be sold and put to use.
As you continue to observe the Coketown residents pay attention to the importance of the presence of Fancy, as well as what happens when it's unnaturally forced out of someone. Pay attention to Louisa, as well as Tom Jr., and be on the lookout for Sissy again. Also, be suspicious of the overly bombastic proponents of fact. People like Bounderby are not always what they seem to be.
For happiness to flourish in these parts something must change soon. Perhaps we need to learn from the methods of Philosophes like Mr M'Choakumchild, Mr. Gradgrind, or your professeur! We need to work more on eliminating their influence, just as they have done so effectively to us. You're probably wondering why I would reference your mentor, the esteemed Professeur Comte, but to answer that at this time would take too long. I promise to explain more at a later date, but let's just say he may have had something to do with the elimination of one the greatest Friends of Fancy, namely my late husband. (Percy's death was no "boating accident" - as I stated once before, this war has been raging a long time now).
My last piece of advice: avoid the Philosophes of Fact's most militant wing, the Brotherhood of Boole - they are the real danger to humanity.
Mary Shelley, President of the Sisterhood of Shelley
When you finish the letter, the amount of questions racing through your mind are more than you can calculate. Mary Shelley! Could it really be her? The author of every college student's favorite novel!? You must have read Frankenstein at least 10 times when studying at École Polytechnique. What is she doing in Coketown? Does she know Charles Dickens? She must have been the woman who delivered the postcards! What did she mean when referencing Auguste Comte? Did he have something to do with the death of Percy Shelley? There were too many questions, so there was only one thing to do: You had to continue your research:
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