Hard Times – Charles Dickens

“Facts, Facts and Facts!!”

This is all, that you get to hear throughout this novel. Dickens starts this novel by concentrating on the word, FACTS and depicts the Utilitarian thinking of the 19th century England, which was undergoing an Industrial change with of course, an ideological change as well.

The novel is based on Industrialism (Capitalist & Workers relationship), Utilitarianism (pure rationality and factuality, devoid of any human sentiments or emotions), position of women, exploitation of the working class and the idea of Trade-Union. Being an industrialist novelist, Dickens depicts the bleak life of the people of “Coketown”, a town metaphorically as well as objectively, full of Industries, smoking chimneys, monotonous lives of workers and devoid of any humaneness or fancy.

One thing that is central to the novel, is the Gradgrindery system of education. It is that inhuman system, in which, children are not seen as being different individuals with humane qualities, but rather, as “pitchers” which are to be filled with facts. They are not addressed by their names, but with the roll numbers allotted to them and as automatons, being modeled up to get ready to work in factories as “Hands”.

The dehumanizing aspect of Utilitarian theory, is what, Dickens is critiquing in the novel. A philosophy which rejects any imagination or fancy, and is rigid & bleak like its bricked-up factories surrounded by black smoke. Through the character of Sissy Jupe and Circus, Dickens introduces the idea of FANCY in the novel and give the qualities of humaneness to her character. The failure of this inhumane Utilitarian system, is depicted through the characters- Mr. Gradgrind, Mrs. Gradgrind, Bounderby, Louisa Gradgrind, Tom Gradgrind and Stephen Blackpool.

Though, I really found the novel very monotonous and boring story-wise, but the Marxist criticism of this novel, is what, that makes it interesting. The fun and intrigue is not in the plot, but in the way it has been presented and being a literature student, for me, it lies in the deciphering of beneath the line meanings of the text!

Thus, I would recommend a Marxist reading of this novel, so that, you don’t find it “hard” to read “Hard Times” ๐Ÿ˜›

You can watch its movie here-

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8 thoughts on “Hard Times – Charles Dickens

  1. Sometimes, it is challenging to read classics from centuries ago. Vocabulary and a sense of plot expectations are often different. Interesting comments about ideology which, was surely Dickens’ focus. Please keep your thoughts coming!

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      1. I don’t think Hard Times is one of Dickens’ most readable novels. I admire it in a sort of abstract way. It’s great to think about, great to talk about, and admire what he was saying. But I agree, Novelacious, that it’s–well, kind of flat and dreary. And I love some of Dickens.

        In the last few years, the English government has been pushing the schools back into Gradgrindery, with a focus on testing and fact and non-thinking. It makes Hard Times all the more relevant.

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      2. Not only the Eng Govt. But, I think the whole education system around the world has become utilitarian!
        We are just studying, in order to, one day become a money earning automaton ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ฃ
        An eye opening novel, I must add.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the classics and have read many Charles Dickens novels, but not this particular one. Thanks for the overview!

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  3. I’ve read some of Dickens, but I never really laid eyes on Hard Times. I think I recall reading a biography mentioned how he struggled with this one, I think, and although it might show, the ideas sound interesting.

    I personally enjoyed your poetry as well, but it was nice to hear your thoughts on works like these. And finally, I am honored that you took the time to read my blog. Have a great day!

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    1. The story of this novel, at one point, bores you, but the interesting part begins when you start deconstructing it or have a look at its Marxist analysis!
      Thanks for such a lovely comment ๐Ÿ™‚
      You too have a great day ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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