Thursday, January 23, 2020

Essay --

Set in the ever changing world of the Industrial Revolution, Charles Dickens’ novel  Hard Times  begins with a description of a utilitarian paradise, a world that follows a prescribed set of logically laid-out facts, created by the illustrious and "eminently practical" Mr. Gradgrind. However, one soon realizes that Gradgrind's utopia is only a simulacrum, belied by the devastation of lives devoid of elements that "feed the heart and soul," as well as the mind. As the years fly by, the weaknesses of Gradgrind's carefully constructed system become painfully apparent, especially in the lives of his children Louisa and Tom, as well as in the poor workers employed by one Mr. Josiah Bounderby, a wealthy factory owner and a subscriber to Gradgrind's system. Dickens, through the shattering of Gradgrind's utilitarian world, tells us that no methods, not even constant oppression and abuse, can defeat and overcome two basic needs of humans, our fundamental needs for emotion and imagi nation. Louisa, Mr. Gradgrind's favorite child, the paragon of his factual regime, leads a broken and embittered life which ends in a showdown between the ideologies of facts and fancy. She is a prime example of a child "filled to the brim" with knowledge by her father's strictly scientific education. Confused by her coldhearted upbringing, Louisa feels disconnected from her emotions and alienated from others, yet she yearns to experience more than the hard scientific facts she has absorbed all her life. While she vaguely recognizes that her father’s system of education has deprived her childhood of all joy, she cannot avoid being coldly rational and emotionally blunted, unable to actively invoke her emotions. She would have been a curious, passionate person who ... ...olution; he believed in internal parity and the growth of the mind and the spirit. He demonstrated that the system that "grinds down," but never building up, will ultimately result in chaos and woe for all those subjected to it. Through Hard Times, Dickens argues that all humans have an unconquerable need for imagination, emotion, and love. He tells us that this need cannot be altered or thwarted by any method of education or economic oppression, no matter how strict and abusive it might be. Hard Times illustrates Dickens' belief that it does not matter whether one is born in a nurturing or an abusive and neglectful surroundings. What matters is how an individual's true nature responds, changes, asserts itself and molds his or her environment. In the end, whether one remains thwarted or strives to fulfill and complete their lives determines who each person becomes.

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