What does the overt social criticism reflect about Dickens’?
his contempt for utilitarian ideals of progress that valued that which produced the “greatest good for the greatest number”
Coketown, the setting for Hard Times, is a mill city that represents what?
the worst aspects of what the industrial revolution was doing to British people in the 19th century. In Hard Times, it is this revolution that Dickens blames for England moral,legal, and intellectual decay
While all of the characters in this novel are flawed or damaged because of the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, Dickens holds Josiah Bounderby in the greatest contempt. How?
as in him, Dickens embodies the worst characteristics of the middle class: self-absorption, arrogance, and a lack of compassion for others in need of help.
A self-made man, Bounderby demeans his family, claiming to have escaped an abusive childhood through his wits alone. Dickens eventually exposes Bounderby as a fraud. Why does Bounderby have such resentment for his family, especially mother?
as in Bounderby’s eyes, they are not successful people because they do not prize self-reliance above all else, even love. , Bounderby seems to think that love is just another acquisition, something he can have if he has the money to buy it. This is his attitude as he pursues Louisa Gradgrind to be his wife and highlights the isolation of the rich.
What type of father does Louisa have?
one which has raised and educated by a father who prizes the utilitarian values of reason at the expense of the imagination, a system that encourages the fostering of intellect but not the nurturing of the human heart
What is ironic about the way in which the social position of the Gradgrinds is actually stunted in a way that the poor, such as Sleary’s circus was not
when it comes to love, compassion, and supportive understanding—those things that Dickens sees as essential—the Gradgrind family appears much less blessed than either the mill workers or the economically disadvantaged—but loving—group of circus people, who provide Sissy Jupe with her extended family.
Throughout Louisa’s troubles with her husband and during her infatuation with James Harthouse, it is Sissy, not her father or brother, who recognizes what?
the depth of Louisa’s unhappiness.
Dickens clearly reviles a system such as the one practiced in Mr. Gradgrind’s home and private school, a system that inculcates only hard facts at the expense of wha?
compassion and imagination.
Sadly, Louisa can no more tell her father, her husband, or Sissy what is troubling her, for Louisa really does not have the language to give a name to her need for tenderness, playfulness, and companionship, what is Dickens’ use for this?
he uses this to critise the moral ambiguity of the upper class who do not appear to reflect the humane integrity of those characters such as Blackpool
Dickens begins his story of Coketown with a scene depicting the visit of a government inspector to Mr. Gradgrind’s school to make sure that these children are learning “facts”, why is this significant?
as this demonstrates the strict, systematic use of the state to order the conformity of children to suppress their innocence, and thus creativity, in an attempt to mould them into a capitalist image and prevent deviation from the status quo. When Sissy Jupe, a child from the local circus, defines a horse in an imaginative way, Mr. Gradgrind rebukes her. In this simple scene, Dickens sets the stage for the key issue he explores in this novel, the conflict between fact and fancy
Why does Tom fall to the temptation of gaining easy wealth by stealing from the bank?
as he has neither the necessary imagination nor the integrity derived from seeing one’s connection or obligation to the community to withstand his “self-interest” which Bitzer refers to in Book 3 at the circus when similarly defending his action in brining Tom to justice.
It is Blackpool, not Tom, a poor mill hand who is accused for the theft, what is this aspect used by Dickens to criticise?
the ways of condemning the social inequalities of the capitalist system, such as the ones that Coketown, Boundary’s bank, Gradgrind’s school, and the mill represent
What does Dickens’ intend to say when making it clear that facts alone would not enable Bounderby nor the other town officials to get beyond their class prejudices and indentify the real thief, Tom?
he intends to comment that the focus of fact is actually counterproductive to honesty and the idea of justice.
The description of Coketown forces us to see the link between Mr. Gradgrind’s educational and utilitarian philosophy and Bounderby’s approach to work, as it is a “ _____________________”
triumph of Fact
the town was painted “unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage” explore
the contrast between this description and the once natural image of society had become devasted by the industrial revolution, isolating pockets of nature to the vacancy of the countryside. To liken the appearance of the town to that of the “face of a savage” suggests that Dickens’ viewed the industrialised towns as part of a collective murderous, tribe by which Coketown was apart of. This image is patterned throughout the description and strengthened when he continues to describe the mills as having “serpents of smoke” from the chimney’s. These smilies introduce coketown as a brutal and uncompromising, fearful face; defined by its work rather the individuals who live there. Coketown is therefore essential as a setting epitomising the negative aspects of industrialisation and the mechanisation of the human soul.