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Hard Times Themes
Little Words, Big Ideas
Philosophical Viewpoints: Utilitarianism and Classical Economics
In Hard Times, the ideas behind Utilitarianism, statistical economics, and the way they may shape government and educational policy all run together to present a bleak future for the children raise...
Philosophical Viewpoints: Creativity and the Imagination
Paradoxically, in Hard Times, play and pleasure turn out to be a kind of work that is just as difficult as factory labor. No job is more physically demanding than that of the circus performers, who...
There is a strong case made in Hard Times that education is not simply the classroom experience of memorizing facts. The novel expresses the view that having an emotional component to our education...
Hard Times definitely has a specific view on wealth. In this novel, the gulf between rich and poor is vast and cannot be crossed, despite the myth created by the rich that the poor can lift themsel...
Power comes in several forms in Hard Times. On the one hand, the numerous factory workers represent a tremendous force, both in terms of their ability to operate machinery and produce goods, and in...
Women and Femininity
In the Victorian ideal, a woman was the repository of family morality – the one who would not only nurture the bodies of her children and husband, but also their minds. The educational experi...
Hard Times expresses the opinion that even an ad hoc, somewhat messily organized family is the best kind of community structure, as long as there's love present. This is shown in the descriptions o...
In Hard Times, love itself can be a positive or negative emotion, regardless of whether it occurs between romantic partners or parents and children. There are examples of socially sanctioned and nu...
There are no happy marriages in Hard Times. In Stephen's case, it focuses instead on a missed opportunity for true companionship. In the case of the Gradgrinds, you've got an entirely intellectuall...
Morality and Ethics
In Hard Times, the key moral attributes that the villains lack are empathy, generosity, and altruism. For Dickens, these are the foundation of human relationships. There is no getting around them w...
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