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Hard Times(TM) is a social satire which explores the ills of an Industrial Victorian society. What is Dickens trying to teach his readership?

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Introduction

'Hard Times' is a social satire which explores the ills of an Industrial Victorian society. What is Dickens trying to teach his readership? Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and wrote 'Hard Times' in 1854. Dickens uses his fictitious town in Hard Times to represent the industrialization of England at that time. The industrialisation of Britain was particularly infamous in the Northern area of England, this is where Coketown is situated. In many ways this did great things for Britain and its economy, there was however a darker side the industrial revolution that consisted of slums, poverty and a monotonous and lifeless existence for many people, such as the 'hands' who worked at the machines and in the factories. Although Dickens had the privilege of being sent to school at the age of nine, his learning there was short-lived and he presently went to Marshalsea along with their patriarch. He worked for three years in a blacking factory. ...read more.

Middle

However, nearer the end of the novel Gradgrind says 'if I see reason to mistrust myself in the past, Louisa, I see no reason to trust myself in the future'. Here he is very uncertain and this shows his development throughout the novel, as he is no longer so arrogant to believe that he is always right and superior to others, like he is in the first quote. Dickens often shows a battle between facts and imagination. On top of this he also has themes of social division, family issues, politics and poverty. Dickens shows this to the reader to show that narrow-mindedness and believe in that only one thing can bring you happiness in life is incorrect, (utilitarianism). Gradgrind strongly believes in utilitarianism at the beginning of the book, as does Bounderby, however neither of them seems to take notice in the majority of society; the 'hands' live in terrible poverty. Because of Gradgrind's ignorance and inconsiderateness you immediately sympathise with characters such as Rachael and Stephen. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, these characters think and feel like we do and react to their situations in the same way that most of us would. For example, Rachael stops Stephens wife from committing suicide, even thought the death of her would bring her more of happiness than saving her. These attributes are what give the characters life and allow us to understand and sometimes sympathise with their decisions. When Louisa questions her father saying 'how could you give me life, and take from me all the inappreciable thing that raise it from the state of conscious death? Where are the graces of my soul? Where are the sentiments of my heart?', there are a number of techniques used by Dickens to create a state of melancholy distress and to make the reader properly understand what she's saying. Louisa for one of the first times in the book asks her father questions, all of which are rhetorical, so there is a role reversal which strengthens Louisa's points. ...read more.

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