RESEARCH ESSAY ON HARD TIMES
April 4, 2001
Hard Times was originally written as a weekly serial in a journal called Household Words. It was written in 1854 to depict what life was like during the industrial revolution and reflect the distinctions between the classes during that era. The novel centres around a theme of a convincing criticism of utilitarianism, and every character in the novel plays a role of reinforcing this theme. Utilitarianism doctrine reflects that the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people, should be the aim of all social and political institutions -- so it is ok for the working people to suffer, as long as the economy as a whole benefits. The novel uses its characters to expose the huge division between the rich and the poor of England and Dickens wanted to focus on the heartless views of the middle and upper classes.
Hard Times has been viewed in varied and even conflicting ways by different critics.
One critic of Dickens's work was E.M. Forster who saw Dickens characters as 'lovable' but merely 'two-dimensional'. Forster also stated that they were drawn in detail, but with no convincing relationship to the real world, and with no inner life. In my opinion, the majority of the characters in Hard Times are 'flat' as oppose to 'round' characters. The definition of a 'flat' character for the purpose of this essay is one that is lacking depth and maintains those characteristics throughout the story.
The characters in this novel are developed to reflect different aspects of humanity. Dickens uses his characters and their personalities to depict his moral themes. For example Tom Gradgrind Jr. represents all that Dickens felt was evil. Tom is only interested in looking after number one. He even goes so far as...