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An Analysis of the Five Major Themes in Charles Dickens's Novel Hard Times: The Wisdom of the Heart vs. the Wisdom of the Head, Exploitation of the Working Class, the Effects of the Industrial Revolution, the Failure of the Utilitarian Education and the A
Word Count: 632
Joanne Alfieri Professor Lanzetta Survey of World LiteratureNovember 8 1997 Hard Times by Charles Dickens There are five major themes in the novel Hard Times by Charles Dickens Its themes overlap as Dickens points an accusing finger at a specific time and place England during the time of the Industrial Revolution The wisdom of the heart vs the wisdom of the head Gradgrind represents the wisdom of the head His philosophy is based on utilitarianism which seeks to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number His philosophy is based on scientific laws that dictate that nothing else is important but profit and that profit is achieved by the pursuit of cold hard facts Everything that isnt fact is considered Fancy The wisdom of the heart is embodied in Sissy Jupe Simple considered uneducable Sissy brings goodness and purity to many of the characters including Gradgrind As he sees the products of his philosophy shattered around him particularly Louisa and Tom he begins to wonder if the wisdom of the heart that others have talked about really exists Sissy proves to him that it does and she salvages a great deal that might have been lost Closely related to this theme is mans need for amusement Sleary the circus owner insists that people cant work and learn all the time - an idea once odious to Gradgrind Exploitation of the working class We see this theme worked out through the character of Stephen Blackpool a factory worker Stephens life is a muddle in part because he and the other workers are exploited from all sides Their employer Bouderby thinks that their lives are easy and that their complaints stem from selfishness and greed The utilitarians who run the schools and government are interested only in profit The union organizers are driven by power-hungry self interest At one point Stephen indicates that the workers have bad leaders because only bad leaders are offered to
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