Rosemary's Reviews > Hard Times

Hard Times by Charles Dickens
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Mar 09, 11

really liked it

Hard Times stands apart from other Dickens novels -- shorter in length, simpler in plot, and sadder in tone. The action is set in a mill town in the north of England and presents some expected social issues: working conditions, legal discrimination against the poor, labor unions. The main theme of the novel, however, is education. Thomas Gradgrind brings up his children and pupils without any recourse to imagination or emotion. In his household, "I wonder . . ." is a phrase that merits punishment. It is this attitude of Head versus Heart, and Facts versus Fancy that finds itself at the root of all the unhappiness of the book. And unlike most Dickens novels, that unhappiness is never quite overcome. Usually Dickens novels leave me gleefully glad to be alive, but I finished rereading Hard Times feeling sad and grown-up.
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