Hard Times- Themes

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  • Hard Times Themes
    • Industrialism
      • Workers treated as machines without humanity
        • Referred to as 'Hands'
        • Bounderby refuses to help Stephen divorce his wife
      • Huge factories cause pollution
        • Metaphor for the way they pollute the people who work in them and own them
        • 'a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage'
      • Coketown contains nothing that is not 'severely workful'
        • Dull, boring, monotonous
        • Utilitarian attitude- no factual reason for beauty
    • Fact vs Fancy
      • Utilitarian schooling based purely on Facts
        • Children end up not being able to connect with others
          • Tom becomes a sulky, hedonistic gambling addict
          • Louisa cannot understand love and almost elopes with Harthouse
          • 'air of jaded sullenness about them both'
        • Gradgrind fails to see the value of Fancy until the end
          • 'Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts'
      • Sissy grew up in the circus so was encouraged to be fanciful
        • Saviour of the Gradgrinds- helps them learn to love
    • Femininity
      • Sissy and Rachael have the typical traits of a woman
        • Both kind, sympathetic, helpful, cheerful
        • Rachael described as an 'Angel'
        • Sissy gets rid of Harthouse for Louisa
      • Louisa did not develop such traits
        • Only love she ever shows in towards Tom
        • Emotions eventually spill over
    • Marriage
      • Louisa and Bounderby
        • Louisa only agreed to help Tom
        • End up separated- no love between them
      • Stephen and his wife
        • Wife a drunkard but Stephen is not rich enough to divorce her
        • Shows how the law favours the rich man
      • Gradgrind parents
        • No affection but Mrs Gradgrind always tries to enforce her husband's ideas
        • Mr Gradgrind buried her in a 'business-like manner'


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