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The Themes and Issues Introduced in 'Book The First' Of "Hard Times".

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Introduction

The Themes and Issues Introduced in 'Book The First' Of "Hard Times" In book the first of Hard Times, Dickens introduces many different philosophical ideas that many believed in, in the time of Dickens' life in England. Towns were developing around coalmines and the blast furnaces took over farming as the main employer of labour. Roads and canals were built to connect industrial areas with cities. One of these industrial areas is, in the book, Coketown. As more public buildings developed, living conditions in towns and cities decreased. Most were cramped, damp, and poorly heated and much malnutrition and disease started to spread all over the country. Dickens used his writing to show his readers what was behind the gleaming concealment of Victorian society. Behind these forces was Utilitarianism, a philosophy that emphasised the practical usefulness of things. This meant that art, imagination, play and entertainment were not valued because they had no practical use. Dickens believed that all these things that made human beings diverse, interesting, free creative, happy and warm hearted were being driven out by the values of a factory system geared only to productivity and profit. Dickens satirised abuses of the utilitarian theory. In book the first, facts and figures are introduced right at the beginning. ...read more.

Middle

Sissy's Father works at the circus. Bitzer, a boy in the same class is asked to define a horse. He is completely factual, whereas Sissy is all fancy. Later in the chapter, a teacher called M'Choakumchild is introduced. Dickens satirises the name M'Choakumchild. In chapter 3, Mr Gradgrind finds his children looking in at the circus. Dickens introduces the two most important characters of the story. He treats his children as machines. Mr Bounderby is lecturing Mrs Gradgrind. Bounderby is a satirical portrait of a factory owner who boasted of his early struggles to justify his wealth and his workers poverty. He is described as: 'The bully of Humility' Mrs Gradgrind, with not much factual education tells her children to: 'Go and do somethingological' Mrs Gradgrind is listless and we get a sense of her disordered mind. Gradgrind has driven out all 'nonsense' out of her head, and facts will not stick there. Coketown is described, City of smoke and endless labour. Fact rules the religious life of Coketown. The chapels of the eighteenth denominations all look like warehouses, and all fail in their Christian duty to minister to the workers. The words ending this paragraph: 'World without end, Amen' echo the book of common prayer of the Church of England. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is the climax of Gradgrind's experiment with Louisa's upbringing and of her lifelong suppression of 'sentiment.' Dickens is saying that this issue is based entirely on facts. Marriage is factual and love does not count. Dickens is saying that these things should be observed with more over facts. Bounderby, a factory owner believes in laissez-faire like every other factory owner. This meant that the government should interfere in industry as little as possible. Dickens believed laissez-faire was very wrong and that if the government interfered with industry, people would be in better living conditions because the government would make the pay fairer. In chapter 16, Bounderby marries Louisa after she gave in to her father's wishes and allegations about love as 'misplaced'. Mrs Sparsit moves to a job at the bank. In conclusion, life was poor for the average worker and Dickens, using his views, wrote books to try illustrate to the people how they were being ripped off and the government and the government favoured the rich and left the poor to make their own way in life and earn their own food, drink and vital supplies to live. Britain was described as 'two nations', the rich and the poor. Dickens wanted to use his books to show how this was true and to show people that there is more to life than just work, that people should enjoy life to the full. ...read more.

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