'Hard Times' by Charles Dickens: plot, characters & themes explained! *REVISION FOR GCSE & A LEVEL*
Appraises English society and highlights the social and economic pressures of the times. Thomas Gradgrind, a wealthy, retired merchant in the industrial city of Coketown, England, devotes his life to a philosophy of rationalism, self-interest, and fact. He raises his oldest children, Louisa and Tom, according to this philosophy and never allows them to engage in fanciful or imaginative pursuits.
The book surveys English society and satirises the social and economic conditions of the era. Hard Times is unusual in several ways. It is by far the shortest of Dickens' novels, barely a quarter of the length of those written immediately before and after it. Moreover, it is his only novel not to have scenes set in London. Coketown may be partially based on 19th-century Preston. One of Dickens's reasons for writing Hard Times was that sales of his weekly periodical, Household Words , were low, and it was hoped the novel's publication in instalments would boost circulation — as indeed proved to be the case.
The novel is set in Coketown, a northern industrial city. Thomas Gradgrind rules his family and his school according to Utilitarianism, the philosophy of the time, which has as its aim the greatest possible happiness for the greatest possible number of people. Thomas Gradgrind has two children Louisa and Tom. Jupe has a daughter Sissy , and when Jupe leaves the circus and his daughter, Gradgrind invites her to come and live with his family. Josiah Bounderby is the rich owner of the Coketown factories. He is a proud self-made man; but once and again his house is observed by a strange old woman. Blackpool has a troubled life.
At the opening of Hard Times by Charles Dickens, the reader meets Thomas Gradgrind, a London merchant-turned-politician who is obsessed with the school of Fact.
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The novel begins with Mr. Thomas Gradgrind sternly lecturing a room full of school children on the importance of facts. He believes that facts, and not imagination or emotion, are the key to a good education, and he educates all the children of the school and his own children, Louisa and Tom , according to this philosophy. When one of his worst students, Sissy Jupe , is abandoned by her father a circus performer , Mr. Gradgrind takes in Sissy to educate her along with his children according to his sacred system of facts.
Internet Archive Page. If you are not in the USA, please verify the copyright status of these works in your own country before downloading, otherwise you may be violating copyright laws. Production details Running Time: Zip file size: Download cover art Download CD case insert. Hard Times, the shortest of Dickens's full-length novels, is set in the fictitious Victorian-England city of Coketown, where facts are the rule and all fancy is to be stamped out. The plot centers around the men and women of the town, some of whom are beaten down by the city's utilitarian ideals and some of whom manage to rise above it.