Hard Times For These Times
In order to improve the sales of his own weekly magazine, Household Words, in which sales had begun to decline in 1854, Charles Dickens (lived 1812 1870) began to publish a new series of weekly episodes in the magazine. Hard Times For These Times, an assault on the industrial greed and political economy that exploits the working classes and deadens the soul, ran from April 1 to August 12, 1854. In the opening scenes that take place in the classroom, you become familiarized with the Gradgrind School and its fundamentals. The Gradgrind philosophy, based on the Facts, Facts, and more Facts of reality, is demonstrated as being not only cruel and destructive to the workers the "Hands" of society but is also humanly inadequate to the Gradgrind family it served. Mrs. Gradgrind observed that her husband has missed something in his life, yet, "not an ology at all." Louisa and her brother Tom, "the whelp," are nearly destroyed by the strictly mechanical principles of Gradgrindery. It was Hard Times for everyone. Sissy Jupe, who grew up among Sleary's Horse Riding Circus, and was not exposed to the harsh doctrine of the Gradgrind family until later in life, represents the imaginative creativity and generosity that the Gradgrind family misses. The coming together of Sissy and Loo, at the conclusion of the novel at the circus, represents what Dickens believes industrial England needs. "Let me lay this head of mine upon a loving heart," Loo says to Sissy at the end.
In his novel Hard Times, Charles Dickens wonderfully illustrates many characters. Some of which include Mrs. Sparsit, one of Bounderby's pride-and-joys, Sissy Jupe, the young girl taken in by Mr. Gradgrind, Bitzer, one of Mr. Gradgrind's old pupils, Mr. Harthouse, the bored world traveler, Mr. Gradgrind, the elder of the Gradgrind family, Mr. Bounderby, banker and friend of the Gradgrind family, and finally, Louisa, the beautiful but imaginatively under-nourished daughter of...
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