Hard Times By Charles Dickens
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Hard Times By Charles Dickens
The book Hard Times written by Charles Dickens is a story about a Lancashire
Mill Town in the 1840’s. The novel is divided into three books. Dickens titles
the books accordingly to prepare the reader for what is about to come, and
throughout the novel he shows the effects of the education system, the setup of
the caste system, and the Industrial Revolution had on society through this
small town of Coketown. The main characters of the novel show the English caste
system of the 19th century by showing how one influences the other and the
amount of power the bourgeois now have in society. They own the factories.
Therefore, they have the money and, because of the changes coming from the
revolution, have some power in society. The titles of the three books,
"Sowing", "Reaping", and "Garnering" shows significance in the way
Dickens is trying to help the reader get an understanding of what is to come.
Dickens shows the way the working classes are fighting for a say in the way they
are treated at work by forming unions and how a bad negotiator can ruin things.
He shows from the start that the education system is based on "fact" and not"fancy." The breakdown of the "fact" based education is shown when
Gradgrind himself asked a question that is not fact based. In the end, the whole
system of education is reversed and the "fancy" is fancied. The novel can be
summarized as a book about two struggles. One struggle is between fact and
imagination and the other is the struggle between two classes. Thomas Gradgrind,
the father of Louisa, Tom, and June not only stresses facts in the classroom in
which he teaches, but also at home to his family. He has brought up his children
to know only the "facts." Everything is black and white, right or wrong with
nothing in between. Gradgrind does not like the idea of going to the circus or
having flowered carpet. Everyone knows a person cannot have flowered carpet. He
would trample all over them and they would end up dying. The second struggle is
between the classes is illustrated between Stephen Blackpool and Bounderby.
Blackpool represents the working class and Bounderby the bourgeois or middle
class. He is a warm-hearted man who feels he deserves this mediocre life.
Blackpool was once an employee under Bounderby and was fired for standing up for
his beliefs. He believed that the union was taking anything that was given to
them because they could not expect anything better. Stephen stands up for his
fellow workers asking for reform and this makes Bounderby mad so he fires
Stephen. This was typical during the Industrial Revolution. The run down society
Dickens speaks of is that created by the Industrial Revolution. The air is
filled with smoke that the working class have to breath. The water is turning
colors with pollution caused by the factories. The people who are most effected
by this are people like Blackpool, the lower class. Dickens shows Stephen and
Bounderby as a typical worker-employer relationship. Dickens shows the way in
which the factories were run at this period. A person could lose their job
simply by disagreeing with what he felt was wrong because the employer did not
really care about the employee. This is the way the workers were treated with no
respect. In contrast to the industrial revolution, it would be highly unlikely
that a middle class citizen such as Bounderby to employ an aristocrat. The
titles of the three books ("Sowing", "Reaping", and "Garnering") are
named in a way of giving a special reference to the upbringing and the education
of the children. The titles together show the basic plot of the story.
"Sowing," suggests that in the 1st book the idea of the children being sown
with facts and it also lays the foundation of the plot of the novel. They are
being taught fact. Where 2+2= 4 and nothing else matters, there is no gray area.
Everything is either black or white and nothing else. They are not taught
emotion. The 2nd book talks of the reaping or harvesting. In this book, Dickens
shows that whatever was sown in the first book, the consequences are now being
seen. For example, Louisa Gradgrind Bounderby was sown with the seeds of Fact.
She used facts to decide upon marrying Bounderby. It would help Tom out and get
him a high position in Bounderby’s bank. We can tell that she did
View Full Essay
More Free Essays Like This