Resarch Essay On The Classic Novel By Charles Dickens, Hard Times

1358 words - 6 pages

RESEARCH ESSAY ON HARD TIMESEnglish 2319April 4, 2001Hard Times was originally written as a weekly serial in a journal called Household Words. It was written in 1854 to depict what life was like during the industrial revolution and reflect the distinctions between the classes during that era. The novel centres around a theme of a convincing criticism of utilitarianism, and every character in the novel plays a role of reinforcing this theme. Utilitarianism doctrine reflects that the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people, should be the aim of all social and political institutions -- so it is ok for the working people to suffer, as long as the economy as a whole benefits. The ...view middle of the document...

His philosophy of life revolves around rationalism, self-interest and fact. His father raised his children according to this philosophy, and does not allow them to engage in 'fanciful' activities.The circus people represent fun, fancy and imagination. They are not based on fact. "They cared so little for plain Fact, these people, and were in the advanced state of degeneracy on the subject ..." (Dickens). Gradgrind looked down on people who did not believe the facts -- he could not understand why people would not accept the facts. "The wretched ignorance with which Jupe clung to this consolation rejecting the superior comfort of knowing, on a sound arithmetical basis, that her father was an unnatural vagabond, filled Mr. Gradgrind with pity" (Dickens).Sissy Jupe is a member of Sleary's circus and she represents all the fancy free impulses that Gradgrind's children were not allowed to cultivate. She represents the opposite of everything that Gradgrind stands for. She remains untarnished. In a conversation with Louisa relating her feelings about her schooling, she talks about how she just does not understand how Mr. M'Choakumchild could feel that if twenty-five people were starving to death and a million were not, that could be described as prosperous (Dickens). Sissy was optimistic and refused to believe facts -- she instead lived in hope as depicted when she talked about the return of her father. "That girl believed her father had not deserted her; she lived in hope that he would come back and in faith that he would be made the happier by remaining where she was" (Dickens).The names Dickens gives to his character's give hints as to what their personalities are like, for example; Gradgrind (think of grinding facts); Sissy (which implies passiveness and weakness) and Mr. M'Choakumchild (which implies unpleasant personality ie. 'Choke a child'). Each character is instilled with designated qualities either good or bad. They are not overly dynamic to say the least. Dickens characters in this novel, do not go through significant growth or change. He uses his characters to give us examples of the extremes of human behavior. His characters are overly exaggerated to enable him to portray the theme of the novel.The characters in Hard Times are not void of humanistic qualities but they come across as shallow. The reader only gets to uncover the first layer of their personality. Gissing reflects Dickens style when he says "I believe him to have been, what he always claimed to be, a very accurate painter of the human beings..." (Gissing). Gissing refers to Dickens as a 'painter' of human beings, which is a very two-dimensional metaphor. Dickens characters are like a 'painting' -- rather flat and straightforward. Most of his characters are not very complex and personify either good or evil. For example Gradgrind's character...

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