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Hard Times

Hard Times


Quotes

Quote #1

'You must discard the word Fancy altogether. You have nothing to do with it. You are not to have, in any object of use or ornament, what would be a contradiction in fact. You don't walk upon flowers in fact; you cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in carpets. You don't find that foreign birds and butterflies come and perch upon your crockery; you cannot be permitted to paint foreign birds and butterflies upon your crockery. You never meet with quadrupeds going up and down walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented upon walls. You must use,' said the gentleman, 'for all these purposes, combinations and modifications (in primary colours) of mathematical figures which are susceptible of proof and demonstration. This is the new discovery. This is fact. This is taste.' (1.2.44)

This is one of the few times when the novel ties logic and fact to aesthetics (which is the study of art and beauty and stuff). The effect is obviously very funny. Picture the world being described here as the new idea of beauty: a world where everything can only be painted yellow, red, or blue, and can only be decorated with squares, rectangles, or triangles.

Quote #2

No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in the moon before it could speak distinctly. No little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are! […] No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with the crumpled horn who tossed the dog who worried the cat who killed the rat who ate the malt, or with that yet more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb: it had never heard of those celebrities, and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous ruminating quadruped with several stomachs. (1.3.4)

The absence of fun from the Gradgrind children's childhoods forces us to try to analyze the importance of nursery rhymes and play in the way children learn about the world. Why is being deprived of these things such a horrifying way to grow up?

Quote #3

'People mutht be amuthed, Thquire, thomehow,' continued Sleary, rendered more pursy than ever, by so much talking; 'they can't be alwayth a working, nor yet they can't be alwayth a learning.' (1.6.103)

Sleary here summarizes another key point of the novel – everyone needs an escape from everyday drudgery.

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