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Hard Times" is a novel concerned to shake some people in the terrible mistake of these days" What targets do you think Dickens is attacking in "Hard Times" and how does he achieve this?

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Introduction

"Hard Times" is a novel concerned to shake some people in the terrible mistake of these days" What targets do you think Dickens is attacking in "Hard Times" and how does he achieve this? In "Hard Times" Dickens is attacking various aspects of Victorian society but essentially he is attacking the philosophy of Utilitarianism. The novel opens with an example of the Utilitarian education system with the thundering voice of Mr Gradgrind, a religious follower of the system, proclaiming the importance of "fact, fact, fact". Dickens purposely chooses the name "Gradgrind" to suggest that he is grinding the children down by overloading them with facts. He is described as "square" which fits in with his character and views of life as factual and measured. Like a square there are no irregularities in Gradgrind's life or room for fancy. Dickens satirises the teachers of the time who were over taught and he believes it probable that "if they learnt a little less, how infinitely better they might have taught much more". ...read more.

Middle

The light from the sun passes through him unable to enhance his soulless features. Dickens wanted Victorian readers to realise that their education system was wrong and so portray Bitzer as a heartless boy, one which Dickens' readers would not like to see their children as. Bitzer is an embodiment of the callous Gradgrind education system. He is only interested in himself, which he admits to when saying, "I have only one to feed, and that's the person I most like to feed", and which is exemplified at the end of the novel, where he discards Mr Gradgrind's plea to let Tom go because he wants Tom's job at the bank. Through Bitzer, Dickens shows and attacks the worst effect of Utilitarianism and the issue of self-interest. Dickens also satirises self-interest through Tom Gradgrind. From early on in the novel, it is clear that he will use people for his own purpose, even his sister who loves him. His upbringing has left him very bitter and resentful as he says, "I wish I could collect all the Facts... and blow them all up...I'll have my revenge". ...read more.

Conclusion

She is dead to all feeling, apart from her love for Tom which leads her to sacrifice her life for him. Unlike Tom, there is potential for Louisa to develop her sensitivity and passion. She admits to "unmanageable thoughts that will wonder", and when she stares into the fire she feels an inner-passion. She attempts to express her feelings when her father approaches her with the idea of marrying Bounderby, "What are my heart's experiences?" "I never had a child's heart", which her father misunderstands, Dickens wants to warn the reader about the unnatural aims and effects of Utilitarianism. As is later revealed "It was a fundamental principle of the Gradgrind philosophy that everything was to paid for", which Mr Gradgrind eventually discovers throughout the novel. His son Tom has brought shame to the family by robbing the bank, and in consequence is sent to live abroad alone, and his daughter Louisa, forced into a convenient marriage and made to turn to Harthouse for comfort, ends up falling at her father's feet, "the pride of his heart and the triumph of his system, lying, an insensible heap, at his feet." The reform of Mr Gradgind is brought about by the failure of his children. ...read more.

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