Charles Dickens: Hard Times
Hard Times is a powerful use of satire. The satire is aimed at theVictorian school system and some values of the Victorian period. Thenovel presents us a fictional town called ‘Coketown’. It introduces usto a man called Thomas Gradgrind, a satirical character with the basisof a Victorian school master. Dickens wrote this novel to attack theVictorian school system because he did not believe that it was right.He uses satire a great deal in the novel to emphasise how it does notwork and why it should change. The satire is directed ‘The GradgrindPhilosophy’, Thomas Gradgrind’s belief system.
Gradgrind greatly believes in his ‘philosophy’ even saying ‘‘this isthe principle on which I bring up my own children’’ emphasising hisbelieves in it. The Gradgrind philosophy is shown to be authoritarian,bullying and fanatical. He puts forwards these beliefs in an utterlyrigid upfront and violent way. This philosophy reduces the children toproducts, practically de-humanising them. It destroys the
children’s imaginations, their innocence and their individuality. Thesystem is only interested in measuring and is an exaggerated versionon utilitarianism. Utilitarianism originated with the economist AdamSmith and then Jeremy Bentham built on it. Dickens attacks thisbecause he believes that individuality and emotions are deeplyimportant.
Dickens presents us with the character Thomas Gradgrind in this novel.We are given a very vivid description of him and Dickens uses a numberof devices to do this. His first device is the name ‘Gradgrind’. Ifthe name is split up you get ‘Grad’ and ‘grind’. The ‘Grad’…
…ce to show that his system isincorrect and emotions are necessary but that Gradgrind cannot yet seethis.
In conclusion, I have gathered the impression that utilitarianism wasa great part of Victorian society but that does not make it right. Itwas a corrupt schooling system and was perverted. Dickens uses avariety of devices to share the folly in the novel, but I think thatthe juxtaposition between Sissy and Bitzer was important and themetaphors and similes emphasised the inadequacies of the system. Ithink that the Gradgrind Philosophy and utilitarianism had a lot ofeffect on the next generation because it did not continue it justemphasised the mistake that was made by Jeremy Bentham. If Dickens hadnot written this novel then we might have still lived in a corruptenvironment with clones and no emotion.