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"Hard Times" By Charles Dickens Essay

927 words - 4 pages

The story of "Hard Times" is set in the North of England, in an industry city called Coketown, an epitome and symbol of the English society after the Industrial Revolution, about 1854, when the reactionary bourgeoisie had suppressed the Chartism and the class-contradiction had became severer and severer. It is the historic background of "Hard Times".In"Hard Times" Dickens shows a genuine sympathy for the workers in Coketown, including Stephen Blackpool, an honest and hardworking man who lives in misery due to his unfortunate marriage, his kind-hearted and hardworking girlfriend Rachael, and Sissy Jupe, the daughter of a clown who has abandoned his station and his daughter as well. It is ...view middle of the document...

His friend, Mr. Gradgrind, a retired hardware businessman and M.P., believes in "Fact". "What I want," he says "is Facts. ...Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else, you can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts. ...This is the principle on which I bring up these children." ("Hard Times", Chapter I, Page 1) He puts this hardheaded principle of education into practice both in his own family and the public school that is run by himself in Coketown. His daughter Lousia and his son Tom are both brought up on the philosophy of facts, deprived of anything of imaginativeness. As a result, Lousia is sacrificed her marriage to send her brother to the bank run by Bounderby who is 30 years older than her. Mentally, she suffers a lot from the unhappy marriage to the man whom she did not love and falls in love with another man. But when it comes to an elopement, she flies to her father's home. Meanwhile, Tom, another victim of his father's utilitarianism, becomes an unprincipled youth, selfish, mean and dishonest, committing theft and then fling the country. The unfortunate lots of the children open Gradgrind's eyes to realize that life contains sentiments as powerful as facts.Here we see the novel makes a fierce attack on the bourgeois system of education and ethic and on utilitarianism and capitalism. As Dickens, of course, is a bourgeois writer, he evaluates the social phenomena and people's activities according to humanitarianism. As the ups and downs of the English history, Dickens cannot completely understand the contemporary movement of workers, especially the correct understanding...

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