Hard Times: Struggle of Fact vs Imagination and Struggle Between Two Classes


Charles Dickens\' novel, Hard Times, is a story of two struggles--the
struggle of fact versus imagination and the struggle between two classes. It
takes place in Coketown, and industrial-age English city. The novel is divided
into two sections. One deals with the struggle of upper class members of
society and their struggle to learn the value of imagination. The other
involves a working class man who is trapped by those in that upper class who
trap him in a dreary existence.
Thomas Gradgrind, the father of Louisa, Tom, and June not only stresses
facts in the classroom in which he teaches, but also at home to his family.
Thomas has brought up his children to know nothing but facts. Everything is
black and white,right or wrong-- nothing in between. He discourages such
fanciful motions as going to the circus or having flowered carpet. Everyone
knows, one cannot have flowered carpet. One would trample all over them and
they would end up dying.
In Hard Times, two classes are relevant in Coketown. The upper class,
which were few in numbers, are dominant over the middle class, which is larger
in numbers. Stephen Blackpool represents the working class. He is a warm-
hearted man trapped in thes run down society. He feels he deserves this
mediocre lifestyle. Blackpool was originally employed under Bounderby, but is
fired for standing up for his beliefs. This type of behavior was totally
unacceptable during the period of time as it involved imagination and
independance. Bounderby portrayed himself as a self-made man,when in fact, he
had eveything handed to him with a silver spoon. His mother gave him the very
best of everything, including a wonderful education. This demonstrates that the
upper and middle classes were not just two different classes, but two different
worlds. The book concludes with the upper class characters being forced into
accepting that something other than facts exist. Thomas Gradgrind has given up
his philosophy of facts by allowing his daughter back into his house.
In conclusion, the entire Gridgrind system of facts proves to be a
failure, and he learns that emotions and imagination are the controlling forces
in everyones life.

Category: English